Ukraine. The presidential battle

15 Jan 2010

 For the first time in many years the power is actually at stake in Kiev. Eighteen are the candidates at the first round of the presidential election. There are not really great ideological or ethnical differences among them. The image of the candidate will give him or her the victory. 20% of the electors are uncertain who to vote for. Some experts say that the central Ukrainian regions along the river Dnepr will be crucial in the second round runoff.

 Sunday’s election for president, the fifth since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, takes place amid deep economic gloom in Ukraine where the global recession has hit jobs, family budgets and pockets.

 According to several polls taken this week, Viktor Yanukovych will collect more than 30 percent of the vote Sunday, while prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko will get 15 percent to 20 percent. The outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko is supported by slightly more than 3 percent of the electorate. He is widespread considered the main responsible for the economic crisis and the political paralyze after 2006. For Russia’s VTsIOM the former CEO of the National Bank, Serhiy Tihipko, might be the surprise. Yushchenko may agree with him to knock out his prime minister and have better guarantees for the future.

A December 2009 poll found that 82 percent of Ukrainians expect vote rigging, as in 2004. These fears are shared by election observers, both international and domestic. The later also fearing the lack of an independent exit poll.

 Both Yanukovych and Tymoshenko have been accused of having close links with Russia. But Ukraine is not coming back under Kremlin’s supervision. National entrepreneurs have their own interests that are often in contrast with those of their Russian competitors. Kiev will continue its way towards a better integration with the European Union and one day will be a full EU member.

Yushchenko’s main mistake in foreign policy was to force this westwards direction and to want a fast membership in NATO at any cost. He forgot the historical roots of his mainland.  

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