By Andrew Wilson
In my last update I spoke about a rogue poll that suggested prime minister Tymoshenko might not make it through to a second round of voting. That raised eyebrows but few here in Ukraine are taking it seriously. Instead, people are looking for more concrete signs of which way the Ukrainian wind is blowing. With this in mind, here’s my brief guide of what to watch out for when the polls close this Sunday at 8 pm (6 pm
GMT, 7 pm CET)
- The media may prematurely declare Yanukovych’s victory, but it’s the size of
the gap that counts. Less than 10% and Tymoshenko is confident she can close it
in the second round. 10-15% and the election will be close. More than 15% is
difficult. Of course this assumes a second round with Yanukovych and Tymoshenko, which brings us to the outsider that the rogue Russian poll suggested might edge into second place: Serhiy Tyhipko.
- Tyhipko may well end up as king- or queen-maker. Ukrainians are fed up with
their old leaders and his is a fresh face: an independent businessman who has
been out of politics since 2004. Tymoshenko is Prime Minister, so she has levers
to pull. No one really expects Tyhipko actually to overtake her. But other polls
have shown him approaching 10% or more – so he could easily tip the balance to
whomever promises him the premiership or his old job as head of the Central
Bank. His supporters are by definition new converts, however. They may not
necessarily do what he asks them in round two.
- The election could end up in the courts. The key decision would be taken by
the new High Administration Court. Funnily enough, the politicians have been
fighting to control it since 2008. It could be an interesting few weeks!
In Part One of Ukraine Decides, Andrew looks at what went wrong after 2004’s Orange Revolution. You can read Part One here
In Part Two of Ukraine Decides, Andrew examines why Europe should care about the Ukrainian election. You can read Part Two here
Andrew Wilson is available for press interviews and comment on the elections. Click here for our press advisory.
The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of its individual authors.