Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ukrainian presidential election, 2004
The presidential election held in November and December 2004 in Ukraine was mostly a political battle between Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and former Prime Minister and opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko. The election was held in a highly charged atmosphere, with allegations of media bias, intimidation and even a poisoning of Yushchenko that was later confirmed to be the result of the poison dioxin.
According to official results, announced on November 23, the election was won by Yanukovych, but Yushchenko and his supporters, as well as many international observers, denounced the election as rigged. This led to a serious political crisis, widespread acts of civil disobedience, dubbed the "Orange Revolution", which eventually led to the Ukrainian Supreme Court annulling the results and ordering a repeat of the second round.
The second vote was re-run on December 26. Observers reported a much fairer vote, and Viktor Yushchenko won with about 52% of the vote, to Yanukovych's 44%. Yushchenko was eventually declared the winner on January 10, 2005 after the failure of a legal action brought by Yanukovych.
For a timeline of events that followed the runoff, see Post-election developments in Ukraine, 2004.
The two major contenders were Viktor Yanukovych and Viktor Yushchenko. Yanukovych, Ukrainian prime minister since 2002, was supported by the out-going President Leonid Kuchma, as well as the Russian Federation and its president, Vladimir Putin.
In total, there were 26 candidates to the presidency, with other candidates receiving much fewer votes than the two leaders.
The initial vote of the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election was held on October 31, 2004. The results announced were a near-draw: official figures gave Yanukovych 39.32% and Yushchenko 39.87% of the votes cast. As no candidate reached the 50% margin required for outright victory, a runoff election was to be held on November 21. Although a 75% turnout was recorded in the initial vote, observers reported many irregularities, particularly in the regions where Yushchenko's support was seen to be strongest. It was unclear how much of an impact this had on the result.
27,897,559 voters participated. Results of the preliminary vote were as follows:
|Viktor Yanukovych||Party of Regions||39.32||10,969,579|
|Oleksander Moroz||Socialist Party of Ukraine||5.81||1,621,154|
|Petro Simonenko||Communist Party of Ukraine||4.97||1,388,045|
|Nataliya Vitrenko||Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine||1.53||426,897|
|Anatoliy Kinah||Party of Manufacturers and Entrepreneurs of Ukraine||0.93||260,890|
|Olaksander Yakovenko||Communist Party of Workers and Peasants||0.78||218,214|
|Oleksander Omelchenko||Unity Party||0.48||136,502|
|Yuriy Zbitnyev||New Power Party||0.05||16,249|
|Vasil Volga||non-governmental organization "Public Control "||0.04||12,874|
|Bohdan Boyko||Movement of Ukrainian Patriots||0.04||12,717|
|Oleksander Rzhavsky||United Family Party||0.03||10,664|
|Vladislav Krivobokov||People's Party of Depositors and Social Protection||0.03||9,280|
|Oleksander Bazilyuk||Slavic Party of Ukraine||0.03||8,917|
|Igor Dushin||Liberal Democratic Party of Ukraine||0.03||8,598|
|Roman Kozak||Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists in Ukraine||0.02||8,360|
|Grigoriy Chernish||Party of Rehabilitation of Infirm People||withdrew|
|Vitaly Kononov||Green Party of Ukraine||withdrew|
In the November 21 runoff, Ukraine's electoral commission declared Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych the winner. According to electoral commission data, Yanukovych had 49.42% and Yushchenko had 46.69% of the votes cast. Observers for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said the run-off vote "did not meet international standards" and U.S. senior election observer, Senator Richard Lugar, called it a "concerted and forceful program of election day fraud."
The geographic distribution of the votes showed a clear east-west division of Ukraine, which is rooted deeply in the country's history. The western, mostly agricultural, and central parts roughly correspond with the former territories of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 17th century. They are considered more pro-Western, with the population mostly Ukrainian-speaking and Ukrainian Greek Catholic (Uniate) in the west or Ukrainian Orthodox in the center, and have voted predominantly for Yushchenko. The industrial eastern part, including the Crimean Autonomous Republic, where the links with Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church are much stronger, and which contains many ethnic Russians and fewer Ukrainians, is a Yanukovych stronghold.
Between the two rounds of the election, dramatic increases in turnout were recorded in Yanukovych-supporting regions, while Yushchenko-supporting regions recorded the same turnout or lower than recorded in the first round. This effect was most marked in eastern Ukraine and especially in Yanukovych's stronghold of Donetsk, where a turnout of 98.5% was reportedly claimed—more than 40% up from the first round. In some districts, turnout was claimed to be more than 100%, with one district reported by observers to have claimed a 127% turnout. According to election observers and opposition figures, pro-Yanukovych activists traveled around the region and voted many times as absentees. Some groups dependent on government assistance, such as students, hospital patients and prisoners, were reportedly told to vote for the government candidate. Many other irregularities were reported, including ballot-stuffing, intimidation at voting booths and huge numbers of new voters appearing on the electoral rolls—in Donetsk alone, half a million more voters were registered for the runoff election. Yanukovych won all but one of the regions where significant increases in turnout were claimed. It was later determined by the Ukrainian Supreme Court that this was in fact due to widespread falsification of the results.
International influence and reaction
Many commentators saw the elections as being influenced by outside powers, notably the United States, the European Union and Russia, with the US backing Yushchenko (sending former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and Senator John McCain to visit with Yushchenko), and Russian president Vladimir Putin publicly backing Yanukovych. In the media the two candidates were contrasted, with Yushchenko representing both the pro-Western Kiev residents as well as the rural Ukrainians, whereas Yanukovych represents the Eastern, pro-Russian industrial laborers.
More specifically it was believed that a Yushchenko victory would represent a halt of Ukraine's integration with the rest of the Commonwealth of Independent States, and possibly a cancellation of the Common Economic Space between Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan that had already been agreed to by the Ukrainian parliament; he would instead be likely to increase attempts at further integration with Europe and a possible membership in the EU and NATO. On the other hand Yanukovych had already promised to make Russian an official language for Ukraine, as is already the case in fellow CIS member states Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
Russia and the CIS
President Vladimir Putin had twice visited Ukraine before the election to show his support for Yanukovych and congratulated him on his victory before official election results. CIS election observers praised the second round of the elections as "legitimate and of a nature that reflected democratic standards", a view in direct contradiction to other monitoring organizations such as the ENEMO , the Civic Voters Committee in Ukraine and the IEOM . 
Prominent hardliners in Russia cast the election as opposition to renewed Western imperialism. Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, for example, blames the West for interfering in the situation in Ukraine in the run-up to the October 31 presidential election:
- "I have been in Kiev for a third day and I see for myself that the numerous actions of local opposition bear the earmarks of those groups that at different times tried to destabilize Prague, Budapest and Bucharest - the earmarks of U.S. special services." 
On November 28th, Yuri Luzhkov, the Mayor of Moscow, gave a speech denouncing the Ukrainian opposition, calling its members a "sabbath of witches" pretending to "represent the whole of the nation" . Russian newspapers have printed increasingly shrill warnings, with the Communist party paper Pravda claiming: "Nato troops in Hungary and Poland are preparing to move, and Romanian and Slovakian military units have been put on alert. Ukrainian towns are in their sights."
Several other CIS countries lined up behind Russia in supporting Yanukovych. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko phoned Yanukovych to offer his own congratulations before the results had been officially declared. Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev wrote to Yanukovych that "Your victory shows that the Ukrainian people have made a choice in favour of the unity of the nation, of democratic development and economic progress." The presidents of Kyrgyzstan (Askar Akayev) and of Uzbekistan (Islam Karimov) likewise sent their congratulations. However, later Karimov criticized Russia's involvement in the Ukrainian election, saying that "Russia’s excessive demonstration of its willingness to see a certain outcome in the vote has done more harm than good." 
In contrast, the Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili indicated his support for the supporters of Yushchenko, saying that "What is happening in Ukraine today clearly attests to the importance of Georgia's example for the rest of the world" . This was a reference to the Rose Revolution of late 2003. Indeed, Georgians have been highly visible in the demonstrations in Kiev and the flag of Georgia has been among those on display in the city's Independence Square, while Yushchenko himself held up a rose in a seeming reference to the Rose Revolution.
On December 2, one day before the Supreme Court decided in favour of repeating the runoff election, President Kuchma visited Moscow to discuss the crisis with Vladimir Putin. Putin supported Kuchma's position of desiring wholly new elections, rather than just a repeat of the second round.
The EU has made it clear that they would not recognize the results of the election. All 25 member countries of the EU have summoned their ambassadors from Ukraine in order to register a sharp protest against what is seen as election fraud.
The European Union has disputed the election process in Ukraine, with European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso warning of consequences if there is no review of the election. During a meeting between Putin and EU officials in the Hague, the Russian president opposed the EU reaction by saying that he was "deeply convinced that we have no moral right to push a big European state to any kind of massive disorder."
Among EU member states, Ukraine's western neighbors were most concerned about the situation in Ukraine. In Poland, Ukraine's largest western neighbor, politicians, the media and ordinary citizens enthusiastically supported Yushchenko and opposed the election fraud. Polish deputies to the European Parliament have called for giving Ukraine the prospect of future EU membership provided the country obeyed democratic standards. Western EU members are however more reluctant with the idea of Ukrainian membership in the EU, which results in Polish media accusing them of being more interested in the integration process with Turkey and maintaining good relations with Russia.
On November 25, former Ukrainian foreign minister and a close collaborator of Yushchenko, Borys Tarasyuk delivered a speech before the Polish Sejm, urging Poland not to recognize the election result and help solve the political crisis. On the same day former Polish President Lech Wałęsa went to Kiev to publicly express his support for a democratic Ukraine. He was later followed by a number of Polish MPs from different parties.
The United States government has also decided not to recognize the election, and has expressed dissatisfaction with the current situation—the outgoing US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, quite unequivocally stated that the result announced could not be accepted as legitimate by the United States. President George W. Bush and various members of Congress have also made statements disclosing their concern over the legitimacy of the polling. Prominent former Cold War hawk Zbigniew Brzezinski casts the election as an opposition to renewed Russian imperialism:
- "Russia is more likely to make a break with its imperial past if the newly independent post-Soviet states are vital and stable. Their vitality will temper any residual Russian imperial temptations. Political and economic support for the new states must be an integral part of a broader strategy for integrating Russia into a cooperative transcontinental system. A sovereign Ukraine is a critically important component of such a policy, as is support for such strategically pivotal states as Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan."'
On December 3 the Supreme Court declared the results of the runoff election to be invalid. A rerun of the runoff vote was held December 26. Exit polls suggested that opposition leader Yushchenko had won the poll with a majority of the votes, and Yushchenko publicly declared victory when around half of the votes had been counted.
The vote counting has now been completed, and Viktor Yushchenko received 51.99% of the votes, while Viktor Yanukovych got 44.19%; Yanukovych finally conceded defeat on December 31, 2004, resigning as Ukraine's Prime Minister the same day. The regional voting patterns were largely unchanged from the first one, with many southern and eastern provinces going largely for Yanukovych, with the west and central regions again favoring Yushchenko.
Ukraine's supreme court rejected Yanukovych's appeal against the electoral commission's handling of the results on January 6.
On January 10 the Ukrainian Electoral Commission officially declared Yushchenko as the winner and on January 11 published the final election results, clearing the way for Yushchenko to be inaugurated as President. The official ceremonies took place on Sunday, January 23 at about noon, when Yushchenko was sworn in as President.
- Central Election Commission (official results, in English)
- Russian Information Agency (russian POV)
- Elections in Ukraine (Pro-Yanukovych biased)
- European Parliament resolution
- OSCE Statement
- Christian Science Monitor: One election, two Viktors
- International Support for Ukrainian Democracy
- Ukrainian Presidential Elections - 2nd Round Preliminary Report
- PINR - Ukrainian Presidential Elections: To East or West?
- Ukrainian Election Observer Blogs
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details