BRAMA, February 17, 2010, 9:00 AM ET
Tymoshenko Stands Up for Ukraine, Yushchenko Jumps Fence, Diaspora Mostly in Fool's Land
By Boris Danik
With the remnants of the Orange Coalition as her base, Yulia Tymoshenko
came close to winning the runoff election in Ukraine on February 7. She
was hampered by a swing vote of a few percent that went for Viktor
Yanukovych, mainly as a result of collapsed economy in a world wide
Despite apparently losing the election, Ms. Tymoshenko has reunited the
people for a Ukrainian agenda, at least for a moment, by pulling together
essentially the same constituency, in the same regions, that voted for
Viktor Yushchenko in 2004.
President Yushchenko's antics after the round-one voting seem to have had
little impact. "[The president] sees [Mr] Yanukovich as the lesser of evils for Ukraine," said Vadim Karasiov, an adviser to Mr. Yushchenko (Financial
Times, February 5). The next day: "President Yushchenko is so angry with
Ms. Tymoshenko that he is urging the public to cast the ballot, "Against
all" (The New York Times, February 6).
When push came to shove, as in the this presidential runoff, the
patriotically conscious Ukrainians the national democrats, the
nationalists, the socialists of the Orange stripe, and others rallied
for Yulia Tymoshenko, as they did for the Orange cause in 2004.
With a 25 percent vote in the first round, Ms. Tymoshenko was trailing the
combined Yanukovych and Symonenko (the Communist Party candidate) vote by
13.8 percent. That's the gap she had to overcome in the runoff (the
Communist vote would almost certainly end up for pro-Russian Yanukovych).
The "Against all" ballot would take 5.5 percent of the total, shrinking
the source of additional votes for the two finalists. Tymoshenko had to
get 73.6 percent of the remainder to break event with Yanukovych (The vote
turnout was about the same in both rounds).
By pulling to within 3 percent in the runoff, she got 68 percent of that
Where did it come from? According to exit polls, the Tihipko basket
became divided equally. The sum vote of nuisance candidates (about 6
percent) split equally and/or took up part of "Against all."
That's why Tymoshenko's gain toward closing the gap had to come from
voters who in the first round went for Yatseniuk, Yushchenko, and
Tiahnybok. And they went for Tymoshenko, despite the cold shoulder from
their first round preferred candidates, because they understood the
The Prime Minister advanced with within 3 percent of a tie in the runoff
by getting 88.5 percent of that group's vote. To close the gap, she would
have to get almost 100 percent.
That's not what the Diaspora would produce for Ms. Tymoshenko even if it
did matter. Its post-DP era curators usually suffer a culture shock when
her name is mentioned. The Diaspora's political maturity shines at
anniversary celebrations and medal presentations, and is less agile in
election politics, socioeconomic and ethnic conflict resolution issues
that often determine the outcomes.
The Ukrainian Weekly, after editorially denouncing Ms. Tymoshenko last
summer (June 24, 2009), has now parsimoniously endorsed her candidacy, one
week before the runoff.
On the other hand, the January 29 editorial of Svoboda's rarified
atmosphere has equivocated, and dwelled on perceptions rather than the
Svoboda's inability to grasp the substantive (in contrast to the
declarative faзade) is no surprise. It always downplayed President
Yushchenko's decisions that ignited the demolition of the Orange
His own personality traits were the probable cause of the obsessive
antagonism toward Ms. Tymoshenko and the putdown of Oleksandr Moroz, the
Socialist Party's Orange partner who could (and did) tip the balance of
power, but was treated like flunky by the president.
That was a textbook exhibit of a failed leadership at the very top. It
erased the Orange parliamentary victory of April 2006 and scuttled
President George Bush's planned visit to Kyiv that summer. It was not the
kind of decorum acceptable to NATO's gate keepers. And yet, "Ukraine will
not have a better president", editorialized Svoboda (January 1, 2010).
Instead of whining about NATO's deference to Moscow, the Diaspora should
try to think.
Recent reports have it that Mr. Yushchenko is now angling for the
parliament speaker's job. That would be another disaster.
Dr. Boris Danik
North Caldwell, NJ
January 31, 2010
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