Monday, October 1, 2007
Tymoshenko wins big in Ukraine?
IF the exit polls that are being reported out of Ukraine come anywhere close to reflecting the official vote count in today's parliamentary elections (never an assumed thing in Ukraine), then Yulia Tymoshenko is today's big winner, and likely Ukraine's next prime minister.
Exit polls, conducted by a trio of Ukraine's top firms, led by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation, show incumbent Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich's Party of Regions coming out on top, but with a narrower margin than expected. The exit poll gave the Regions 35.5 per cent, with the Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko right behind at 31.5 per cent.
The Regions result is roughly in line with expectations. But while opinion polls had Tymoshenko running second, most had her at around only 23 per cent.
According to the poll (you can see the full results here at the Orange Ukraine blog), President Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party finished, as predicted, a distant third at 13.4 per cent. But that's enough to make sure that a reconstituted "orange" alliance between he and Tymoshenko controls the next Rada.
Which means Tymoshenko, not Yanukovich, is likely the next premier. If the exit polls come anywhere close to matching the official results. If.
Already there are quite different numbers appearing on the homepage of the Central Election Commission, the much-maligned official body that was implicated in the 2004 presidential election fraud that fueled the Orange Revolution.
At last click, the CEC had Tymoshenko in front with about 34 per cent, followed by Regions with 27 per cent and Our Ukraine with just over 19. However, that was with less than 1 per cent of votes cast.
Any differences between the pre-election opinion polls, today's exit polls and the official results can potentially be used as fodder by the quarrelling camps. (It should be noted here that the Democratic Initiatives Foundation has received grants from the United States and other Western governments, making it untrustworthy in the eyes of Yanukovich's team and much of the Russified east of the country.)
As I noted yesterday, the followers of both Tymoshenko and Yanukovich are already camping (separately) in the streets, ready to begin rolling demonstrations at the first word from their leader.
According to the Kyiv Post Yanukovich's supporters have already alerted police that they intend to gather 150,000 people tonight for a demonstration "in support of democratic and transparent elections." AFP says a pro-Yanukovich protest is planned for tomorrow.