Ukraine decides: the first exit polls come out

Viktor Yanukovych is ahead in exit polls after the first Ukrainian presidential election since the Orange Revolution. In his election blog, Andrew Wilson casts his eyes over the first figures

Senior Policy Fellow

Turnout May not be Enough to Save Tymoshenko

So the voting at least is over. The polls
in Ukraine closed at 8 pm Kiev time, 6 pm in London, 7 pm CET. The exit polls
came fast. Surprisingly, the first to be quoted was the ‘National Exit Poll’
which was drastically wrong in round one. It puts Yanukovych on 48.7%,
Tymoshenko on 45.5% and ‘Against All’ at 5.5%. Five other exit polls had a
similar message: all put Yanukovych ahead by 3-6%; none put Tymoshenko ahead
and none put the gap under 3%. But all put the number ‘against all’ between 5%
and 6%. Which means the abstainers decided the election; Tymoshenko could have
closed the gap with their votes.

Turnout is reported to be up on the first
round, maybe over 70%. This might still help Tymoshenko as the real votes are
counted; but she really needs turnout to be exceptionally high in the west and

Time will only tell whether this is the
worst of all possible results. The real count will take until late tomorrow at
least. There is a world of difference between a gap of 5% or 6% and one of less
than 3%. Every vote will count. But if the exit polls are right, not because
the count will determine who wins; Yanukovych is ahead. But the overnight count
will determine whether protest at the result will have a plausible narrative or
not. As will the drip feed of stories of voter infringement. This election was
conducted with vastly higher standards in round one. Round two was never going
to be perfect. Every incident will now be a news story. Judging its true import
is still vitally important.

                                                Yanukovych                        Tymoshenko                      Against all

National exit poll              48.7%                                    45.5%                                    5.5%

Inter/SOCIS                    49.6%                                    44.5%                                    5.9%

ICTV                              49.8%                                    44.5%                                    5.9%

Shuster Studio                48.7%                                    45.6%                                    5.7%

R&B (not the music)         50.3%                                    44%                                        5.5%

Inter/FOM/USS                49.7%                                    44.6%                                    5.6%

I’ll be back with more analysis on Monday, when we know a little bit more about what the final figures mean. As I’ve said in previous blogs, whoever looks like slipping behind is unlikely to take any defeat lying down…

For more…

Read Andrew’s previous blog post on why the loser might bring people onto the streets

Listen to his special podcast interview with two eminent Ukrainians, Olexiy Haran and Mykola Ryabchuk, here 

For the press…Andrew is available for interviews. 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.


Senior Policy Fellow