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November 1, 1999
Lviv, Ukraine

Brama at the Scene: the '99 Presidential Elections in Ukraine

Election Day in Lviv
Lviv's Mayor Vasyl Stepanovych Kuybida casts his vote for President of Ukraine

With fall colors taking hold, Ukraine took part in its third set of presidential elections since achieving independence in 1991. Overall, the elections were orderly with little if any sort of disturbances at the polls. Unlike the previous elections of 1994 where issues of various alliances with Russia were in the forefront, this time around economic issues were paramount. Faced with overwhelming economic challenges -- an entrenched unenterprising peasantry, a collapsing military industrial complex , all punctuated with bright and remarkable entrepreneurial efforts -- candidates fell easily into two camps proposing either a return to supposed supra socialist/communist benevolent ways, or to move forward with difficult economic reform.

In the months preceding the election various polls and surveys attempted to throw some light on the possible outcome -- one survey showed Marchuk far in the lead; another showed a mixed field; still another that there would be a runoff between Kuchma and Symonenko. However, none were conclusive.

Election Day in Lviv
Voters read the presidential candidate profiles before voting in District 11.

Elections concluded Sunday night at 8. Speculations about the outcome were rampant. Notably, Ukraine's TV channel 1 + 1 put together a formidable hi-tech effort in reporting the results as they arrived. The broadcast continued late into the night and morning. Various panels of political experts alternating with groups of candidates presented their views and commentary -- Marchuk together with Moroz, Udovenko with Kostentko, foreign policy cognescenti, regional experts all offered their perspectives. Kuchma and Symonenko were absent. Exit poll statistics punctuated the talking heads -- as expected in the Western oblasts Kuchma took 56 percent of the votes with Marchuk taking 16 and the balance in the low numbers; exit polls in all other oblasts showed Kuchma taking 35% to 40% of the vote with Symonenko trailing in second place with about 25% of the vote.

Election Day in Lviv
Standing in line to register.

By morning results started falling into place: Kuchma 37%, Symonenko 25%, Moroz 11%, Vitrenko 11% Marchuk 6.5%, Kostenko 2%, Udovenko 1%, with the balance at 5%. Lviv's November 1st Vysokyj' Zamok carried the following healdine: Pyrih podilyly, ale sche ne zyily (The Pyrih has been cut, but not yet eaten). The outcome points to a runoff election between the top two candidates which should take place on November 14th with concern that votes for the leftists would throw the result into their camp.

Election Day in Lviv
Lviv resident compares his domestic passport to the discrict rosters as evidence of residency
Election Day in Lviv
Even Mayor Kuybida must present his credentials for vertification prior to voting.
Election Day in Lviv
Voters are assisted into the booth where the ballot slip is filled out.
Election Day in Lviv
Exiting the ballot booth
Election Day in Lviv
Lviv resident casts his ballot.
Election Day in Lviv
Political party representatives observe the proceedings.

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