Happy Ever After

KIEV, Ukraine -- The main question in the second round of elections "He or she?" can be stricken from the agenda. Both Yanukovych and Tymoshenko now might be interested in the answer "they"

Ukrainian Presidential candidates Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yanukovich will hold a run-off in February.

The first round of the presidential race did not detract the intrigue from the second round. Despite optimistic speeches in the headquarters of the two frontrunners, both candidates cannot guarantee their victory in the second round.

Meanwhile, Yanukovych and Tymoshenko are jealously examining their former opponents. The fight for the votes of those candidates that pulled out of the race will be tooth and nail. If the fight is unsuccessful, Tymoshenko and Yanukovych will have to combine forces in order to remain in power

Plus forward, minus backward

Tymoshenko lost the first round of the elections to Yanukovych by slightly over 10% according to the Central Election Commission reports. This gap cannot be considered small and Yanukovych´s chances look better. At the same time, Tymoshenko managed to narrow the gap against her main rival. Moreover, not one of the sociological services forecast 25% of the votes in her favor.

The resources of Viktor Yanukovych are very limited. With almost a 100% probability in the second round, Yanukovych could count only on the votes of the communist electorate. It seems the headquarters of Yanukovych, which estimated the surplus in votes for their leader at around 3%, understands this quite well. As such, the predicted outcome of the favorite in the race for the president´s office in the second round should be around 38% of the votes.

Tymoshenko has greater chances. The votes of Arseniy Yatsenyuk in the first round (around 7%), Viktor Yushchenko (around 5.5%), Volodymyr Lytvyn (more than 2%), Oleh Tyahnybok (almost 1.5%) and Anatoliy Hrytsenko (1.2%) can contribute to Tymoshenko´s results in the second round.

This additional 17% of the votes can guarantee Tymoshenko a victory in the second round. On the other hand, the aforementioned politicians are in no hurry to support Tymoshenko, despite her call to create a broad democratic front.

If the rest of the runners in the election race remain neutral, of the 17% of the votes of the western and central electorates targeted at patriotic attitudes Tymoshenko will get no more than half, which will not secure her a victory over Yanukovych in the second round.

In a comparative analysis, more than 13% of the votes went in favor of Tihipko, whose electorate is quite sophisticated. Some of his votes can go to Tymoshenko, while some may go to Yanukovych.

Obviously, it is impossible to add the votes for the former banker, currently an unemployed, to either candidate. Tihipko himself prefers not to express his own preferences for one or the other candidate, apparently waiting for a generous offer.

Where to go, what to choose?

In the second round more than 30% of voters may face a very difficult choice: vote for one of the finalists on the principle of "the lesser of two evils", not show up to vote at all or vote "against all".

The first scenario is favorable for Tymoshenko. Obviously, she has mastered the ability to invent spooky stories for the voter. Given this, prior to the second round we can expect to see a massive advertising campaign aimed at discrediting Yanukovych.

If this campaign succeeds and at least half of the voters whose preferred candidate dropped out of the race supports Tymoshenko then the half will be passive. This would be enough for Tymoshenko to win the election (Tymoshenko - 40% versus Yanukovych - 38%).

Yanukovych, whose potential to attract additional votes is lower, will be interested in the "suspicious electorate" staying at home or voting "against all" in the second round.

So, between the first round of the elections and the run-off we are in for a highly entertaining spectacle flavored with the tricks of spin doctors entangled with a massive smear campaign.

Whatever, only the official support of one of the leaders of the race offered by former candidates will guarantee a victory in the run-off. As it was mentioned above, the dropouts are in no hurry to give their support against the favorite and they have their reasons for this.

Urgent snap elections

Another interesting fact is that all the politicians that for the presidential office that came in 3rd, 4th and 5th (Tihipko, Yatsenyuk and Yushchenko) are extremely interested in snap parliamentary elections. Yushchenko and Yatsenyuk, both former people's favorites, are perfectly aware of the ever-changing nature of the electorate.

During the first round Tihipko showed his ability to captivate the voters' moods and meet their expectations. The hiatus between election rounds could only complicate their way to the big league in Ukrainian politics by forming their personal factions in the parliament. The sponsors of their political projects are urging them to do so.

Clearly, the main prize the semi-finalists of the presidential race will demand from one of the leaders in exchange for his support is immediately setting the snap parliamentary elections. There is another important factor.

Even if Yatsenyuk and Yushchenko are made such an offer by Yanukovych, neither will be able to pass on their votes to him as their voters will not support Yanukovych on any condition. The situation with Tihipko is not that ambiguous. Furthermore, open support of Yanukovych is not likely to earn the young and prospective politician extra points.

It seems that in this case it is Tymoshenko that can guarantee all three politicians the snap elections they desperately need. However, things are not that straightforward seeing as Tymoshenko is the least interested in early elections. The growing budget problems and another election on the backdrop of the complicated economic situation in the country will not make BYT more popular.

It is possible that after the snap elections initiated by "President Tymoshenko" her majority could be turned into minority in the parliament, while her opponents will form the majority.

At the same time, Tymoshenko has always had the spirit of adventurism. Given this, we will know her decision and closely follow her talks with Tihipko and even Yatsenyuk during the next few days. It is worth noting that the official support of Tihipko in the second round of the elections will guarantee Tymoshenko a victory in the presidential marathon.

Yanukovych is also not interested in snap elections. Of course, if he should win the election race the PoR is likely to find much more supporters and form its own government. Still, the problem is the campaign will be held on the backdrop of a worsening social and economic climate in the country. In this particular case the burden of negative consequences will fall on Yanukovych's shoulders.

Hence, none of the finalists of the election campaign are interested on early parliamentary elections on a large scale. This means Tihipko, Yatsenyuk and Yushchenko can only dream about holding an election campaign and having their own factions in the parliament.

Marriage of convenience?

The shadow of the PoR/BYT alliance is hanging over the country once again. No matter how desperately Yanukovych and Tymoshenko oppose it and no matter how many times each one runs away from the altar, it seems as though they are destined to divide the country between themselves.

It is highly probable that long-term negotiations (as much as are possible until the second round of the elections on February 7) between all politicians, Tymoshenko's attempt to hammer out a semblance of a "democratic camp" and so on and so forth will precede all this. However, it is doubtful that any anti-Yanukovych coalition will be formed.

This implies that the endless talks between representatives of the Yanukovych and Tymoshenko teams will be accelerated and their parties will apply the following formula in their relations: "Winner of the race becomes president, loser is appointed premier and a new coalition will be formed in the VR. The seats in the new government will be divided according to the annex to a coalition agreement."

Strangely enough, the chances of such an outcome are pretty high, provided the president does not dissolve the current parliament in the next few days.

Source: proUA