Now that elections are over, what should Ukraine expect?
07 November, 2015
Ukraine’s Central Election Committee has published the final results of early elections to Verkhovna Rada (Parliament): 64 MPs belong to Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s party People’s Front, 63 MPs are members of Petro Poroshenko Bloc, 32 are from Lviv Mayor Andrii Sadovyi’s Self-Reliance party, 27 belong to the Opposition Bloc, 22 to Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party and 17 – to ex-President Yulia Timoshenko’s party of Batkivshchyna.

This list covers 225 MPs out of 423 available seats. Elections were not held
in Russian-occupied Crimea as well as breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Judging by preliminary results from single-seat electoral districts, the Central Commission estimates that members of Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc will occupy 132 seats, with the People’s Front occupying 82.

Georgian Journal interviewed members of observation mission organized by the Committee For Open Democracy. First one was Nodar Papuashvili, principal of Tbilisi Open University:

– How high was the voter turnout in the district you supervised? What can you tell us about the voting public in general?

– Odessa had three main candidates – Mayor Genady Trukhanov and ex-mayors Oleksandr Borovyk and Eduard Gurwits. The trick here is that Gurwits is a very “interesting” figure: He participates in all elections, spends a lot of money but never achieves any results due to not conducting classic election campaigns, not hiring consultants and not meeting with the very people who are supposed to vote for him.

As for Borovyk, he has a lot of resources and is an interesting person, but he simply did not have enough time to win. The group he represents was actually looking for a candidate not so long ago; Borovyk is late to the party, figuratively speaking, but his ratings were still high. Trukhanov, the third candidate, is from the group of ex-President Yanukovich. I oversaw precisely the district in which he has the most supporters, people kept saying that they were voting for him purely on his merit, but I have yet to find anything that was changed, built or reformed while Trukhanov was mayor, and I am a frequent visitor to Odessa.
However, views in society are divided, and not only on Trukhanov; some people are genuinely annoyed and angry.

Overall, If the trend of the opposition candidates winning – can be found in other regions alongside Odessa, it means that the Ukrainian revolutionary wave has passed.

– What changes or reforms may follow these elections?

– People here do not think or feel that these elections have actually changed something. Conducting radical, from-the-ground-up reforms in Ukraine like it was done in Georgia requires absolute political will, and I do not see this will in the current government – or the people. The latter simply do not believe that any powerful changes will come about. For example, it is impossible for them to imagine that after introduction of the recently formed Patrol Police, the law enforcement will stop taking bribes.

Brian Mefford, Chairman of the Committee for Open Democracy:– In Europe, the Ukrainian elections were called “well-organized and competitive”, but not without the “necessity of future reforms” part. In general, the October 25 elections had a couple of “surprises” concealed within – The powerful oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi financing all of the candidates except for Borovyk. To put it bluntly, he wanted anyone but him to become mayor of Odessa. This oligarch has a lot of business interest in Odessa, and I think that everyone knows that business and politics are inseparable not only in post-Soviet space, but in the entire world as well.

Odessan elections were particularly problematic, since the so-called Carousel Affair was (and still is) very hot there. Given the background, it was expected for acting Mayor Genady Trukhanov to be elected for the second term. Oleksandr Borovyk came in second, which is most likely a result of Mikheil Saakashvili’s popularity in Odessa. However, it should also be stated that Trukhanov’s re-election unties oligarch Kolomoyskyi’s hands in Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv, giving him additional ammo to fight against President Poroshenko.

The next political change after the local elections will most likely concern the prime minister, since Mr. Yatsenyuk’s popularity ratings have dropped sharply as of late, with his former supporters now siding with ex-PM Yulia Timoshenko. It is also clear that power will be redistributed among the political forces – for example, that same Timoshenko, despite being considered a political corpse not so long ago, is now rapidly gaining popularity again.