Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Comment on Ukrainian Candidates' Regional Ties

Candidate information is beginning to appear on Ukraine's Central Electoral Commission site. The re-introduction of the mixed system is likely to enhance the importance of candidate connections to regional constituencies as competitors seek ways to increase electability. Although the previous two elections used rules that de-emphasized local connections, parties appeared to be mindful of the importance of nominating candidates with regional ties on their national lists. The local capacity that parties and politicians have developed over the last few cycles should be especially useful in the upcoming election.

I generated the following maps using data collected from the Central Electoral Commission (in a collaboration with Nazar Boyko). The first map displays reported candidate residency from the 2007 snap elections for 1,899 candidates with clearly defined location data (apologies for the pie charts, but the BatchGeo platform uses them as a standard tool to display data. As a side note, pie charts have their detractors and proponents...).

View Ukraine Residency 2007 by Party in a full screen map

While more than a third of candidates declared Kyiv or its environs to be their place of residence, the remaining candidates were distributed in all corners of Ukraine. Regional divisions are unsurprisingly evident, with the Party of Regions and Communists offering a higher proportion of candidates claiming eastern residency than other parties, and Our Ukraine-People's Self Defense and the Bloc of Yuliya Tymoshenko offering a higher proportion of candidates claiming western residency. These data suggest that the major parties have developed local capacity across the country that could be valuable under the mixed system.

The picture from 2007 is a bit different when we look at winners: Kyiv residency is dominant, accounting for more than half of all elected deputies. The Party of Regions is better represented through the reported residency of its elected deputies in some eastern areas (e.g., Donetsk) and the opposition is better represented in western areas (e.g., BYuT in Galicia). But, parties can also claim elected deputies who report residency in "enemy" territory.

View Ukraine 2007 Residency by Party (Winners) in a full screen map

Of course, the party system has changed in important ways since 2007, especially for the opposition, with the decline of OU-PSD, the collaboration of BYuT and Yatseniuk's Front of Change, and the independent participation of UDAR. It is also important to note that residency and localness may not have been decisive the last time the mixed system was used. In 2002, two-thirds of candidates in single-member districts (2,133 of 3,086) claimed residency in or around the districts they contested. However, 126 of the 223 district deputies initially elected did not claim local ties, compared to 97 who did. I plan to do some additional analysis, taking into account various factors such as the choice set in the districts, the qualities of candidates, and so on. But, as we look toward the 2012 parliamentary election, it will be instructive to see how party nominations reflect regional connections.

Note: The maps have some missing values, generally due to coding (either information availability or geocoding problems). In some cases, the geocoder could not identify villages. I will explore these issues as they may be a function of transliteration choices.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Campaign is Underway

On July 30, 2012, Ukraine's election campaign officially kicked off, with many parties announcing their party lists and constituency nominations over the last couple of days. Once again, Ukraine will use a mixed electoral system after discarding the national-level proportional representation system used in the 2006 and 2007 elections. The details of the mixed system in the initial legislation indicated that it would function similarly to Ukraine's mixed system in 1998, but the election law was modified after adoption especially due to the judiciary's reaffirmation that dual candidacy violates the constitution. It now seems that the rules will be closer in form to the 2002 version of the mixed system.

Since President Yanukovych's victory in January 2010's presidential election, domestic and international observers of Ukraine's politics have criticized the deterioration in the quality of democracy. Following the 2010 local elections held in the fall, I collaborated with Nazar Boyko on a paper that is forthcoming in the Journal of East European and Asian Studies (pdf). We initially wrote the paper for a roundtable held at George Washington University in early 2011 to assess President Yanukovych's first year in office. As is often the case with academic publishing, it has taken time to get the paper to press.

In the article, we first evaluate the election results, noting that they underscore the consolidation of Party of Regions control in the east and south, and its expansion in the central regions. Results in the west are more varied, with some parties aligned with the regime winning local races (e.g., in Zakarpatska) and minor parties gaining footholds in other areas (e.g., Svoboda in L'viv). We discuss some of the possible reasons for these developments, and present implications for the parliamentary elections. Notably, we suggest that Svoboda's successes are likely to be short-term and induced by peculiarities of the election campaign in specific regions, and that the opposition was once again hampered by its inability to coalesce. Public opinion polls suggest that the former observation is on target and the behavior of the opposition suggests that it may have partially addressed the latter. We also outline variation in election administration, with some regions manifesting degradation in the quality of elections and others by-and-large showing no evidence of widespread, systematic, or decisive fraud. The parliamentary elections will be an important test of the Party of Region's cohesion (with the re-introduction of constituency races potentially undermining party centralization), the ability of the opposition to overcome collective action problems and coordinate campaigns on party lists and in the districts, and the commitment of the regime to hold free and fair elections.

Fall 2012 promises to be an interesting time for elections across the region, with parliamentary votes scheduled in Belarus (September 23), Georgia (October 1), Lithuania (October 14), and Ukraine (October 28). I will be writing more about Ukraine's election in the coming weeks, including a an election note for the journal Electoral Studies that will be cross-posted on the Monkey Cage, and will comment a bit on the other elections as well.