The ukranian elections: a lesson for Europe?
KIEV, Ukraine. Just an hour after the polls closed, the results of Ukraine’s five rival exit polls had given a surprisingly unanimous message: Party of Regions Leader Viktor Yanukovich led by anything from 6.24 percent (according to a poll by the Research and Branding Group) to 3.1 percent (according to Savik Shuster Studio). Even The National Exit Poll by the Democratic Initiative Foundation, the most trusted by Western observers and in the words of Tymoshenko herself, “the only real exit-poll,” gave Yanukovich a 3.2 percent lead.
- The legal framework of the election.
In the opinion of international analysts, the first round of the 17 January presidential election in Ukraine was of high quality and showed significant progress over previous elections; this election met most OSCE and Council of Europe commitments. Civil and political rights were respected, including freedom of assembly, association and expression. Election day was conducted in an efficient and orderly manner. Quoting the OSCE report of the international observation mission, we could say that: «this election saw a diverse field of candidates representing alternative political views, offering a genuine choice to the electorate. Candidates were able to campaign freely across the country without impediment. The campaign period was generally calm and orderly […] By voting in large numbers and freely expressing their will, Ukrainians have shown the desire to decide on the course of the country».
Evidently, even more crucial was the evaluation of the second round’s fairness by the international organization system. From this point of view, although (until now) Yulia Tymoshenko has not conceded the victory to his rival (something that we will evaluate later), the most eloquent indications are the words of Matyas Eorsi, Head of the delegation of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly; considering that the international election observation mission (which consisted of representatives of the European Parliament, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe, and NATO) has evaluated that the second round of the Ukrainian presidential elections met democratic standards, Mr Eorsi said the Orange Revolution had successfully established democratic elections in Ukraine. As far as we will try to explain, the fact that the soundest achievements of the orange revolution are used to highlight the success of its most relentless enemy is just a seeming paradox of this fascinating country...