Friday, January 7, 2011

Yanukovych's Year

The anniversary of Viktor Yanukovych's presidential election win is drawing near. The February 2011 edition of East European Politics & Societies is dedicated to this topic and includes my article assessing Yanukovych's victory. The article evaluates two of the dominant narratives in the election: that they were largely free of fraud, and that they reflect the traditional spatial divides. I find evidence supporting both narratives.

The paper was originally presented at the conference "Ukraine's 2010 Presidential Election: What We Learned" held at George Washington University in March 2010. I streamlined the paper for publication, cutting several maps and tables. They are available here as supplements to the published article.

In the article, I also note a third narrative: Yanukovych's victory signaled a defeat of the Orange Revolution. At the time I composed the article, it was too early to assess that narrative. The intervening months have demonstrated strong efforts by the new administration to consolidate power and restrict competition. Most notably, local elections in some areas of the country showed evidence of significant abuses of power. I participated in election observation in Odesa as a representative of the Committee for Open Democracy and witnessed strong evidence of fraud that I discussed in a press conference. The local elections were followed by challenges to opposition leaders, including prominent politicians like Yuliya Tymoshenko and Yuriy Lutsenko, including recent jailing of the latter. These events, and others in the last year, bode ill for democratic processes in Ukraine.