Sour Gapes. Candidate’s cry wolf

November 30, 2009

Various statements by marginal presidential candidates about thelikely electoral fraud are aimed to create a background for theirpost-election information campaigns and lawsuits, the leader of theYedyny Tsentr Viktor Baloha said Nov. 24. Source 

Alarming declarations about the likely vote rigging directly point toorganizational weaknesses of some candidates as the law allows forreliable barriers against any electoral fraud. For instance, anypresidential candidate can send his 2 representatives to sit on localand regional electoral commissions, appoint observers to keep an eye onvoting and counting of ballots. Proxies of candidates who have wideauthority can also supervise the course of the voting.

“These representative must have absolute trust of their patron.Everything depends on the correct choice of a candidate andprofessional level of his team,” Baloha summed up.

Other effective barriers to electoral fraud are the Central ElectionCommission [whose members are appointed by major parliamentary partieson a quota principle] and numerous international observers. Mass mediaand NGOs, notably, the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, will also beeffective in helping to curb fraud.

Of great importance forestablishing the final tally are also exit polls run by respectedpolling companies.

“There are more than enough supervisory tools, as you see, and theywill all be used during the campaign. All the more so that there are 18presidential candidates, some having considerable weight. That is whyany declarations about the likely fraud are just attempts to justify adefeat of those who make them. Note that those candidates who areselling themselves as strong-willed and tough are most given to suchdeclarations. In fact, such declarations expose them as would-be losersand outsiders,” Baloha added. 

Yushchenko to abandon ship having sailed Arc Orange on to the rocks

November 28, 2009

Ukraine’s embattled and disgraced President, Viktor Yushchenko, having caused the collapse of the orange revolution, and betrayed all those who supported his election, has stated for the first time that he will bow out of politics following the next presidential election.

Yushchenko’s support rating is less then 4 percent and he is set to lose office in the first round of the election.

Many commentators believe he should have bowed out long ago and should not have re-nominated. By standing for a second term he is denying opportunity for those who support his candidacy to transfer their support to another candidate.  Those who will vote for Yushchenko in January will be throwing their vote away, they would be better off staying at home and not voting at all or voting “against all”.

In 2005 Yushchenko enjoyed the support of 52% of Ukraine and was even nominated for a Nobel prize.  His fall from grace could not be more dramatic. Where once he was the toast of the “free world” today the US President, Barack Obama, would not even meet with him during his visit to the United States.  The president of Russia has singled him out as the main cause for division and dissension in the region and the deteriorating relations between Russia and Ukraine. Four members of his own political party are running against him.

In losing the election Yushchenko will not only bring himself into disrepute but also the office of President.

History will record him as a failed president who betrayed Ukraine and democracy itself.  His term of office has been a complete disaster. What positives that may have existed have been overshadowed by his betrayal and deceit. Instead of supporting democracy Yushchenko sought to destroy it.  He betrayed his oath and all those around him by denying Ukraine the right to democratic governance.

Poll: Yanukovych set to win in second round

November 28, 2009

50 days to go and Yanukovych is set to win the second round of voting with over 50% of the vote

According to the lastest Research and Branding electoral poll also published on KyivPost

Under Ukraine’s flawed first-past-the-post voting system only the two highest polling candidates progress to the second round of voting. Yushchenko still remains the biggest loser stuck on 3.5% Lytvyn is holding ground doubling his last months rating. Yatseniuk is dropping by the week but still remains in third place ten percentage points below Tymoshenko.

On a  two candidate preferred basis Yanukovych is on 47.4% to Tymoshenko 28.1%   – adjusted for the expected turn out (87%) Yanukovych wins over 50% of the vote

Candidate Nov Oct Swing
V. Yanukovich 32.40% 31.00% 1.4%
Y. Timoshenko 16.30% 18.40% -2.1%
A. Yatsenyuk 6.10% 9.60% -3.5%
V. Litvin 4.50% 2.30% 2.2%
S. Tigipko 4.40% 3.50% 0.9%
P. Simonenko 3.80% 3.50% 0.3%
V. Yuschenko 3.50% 3.50% 0.0%

At a cost of over 1 billion dollars Ukraine would have been much better off if the parliament had elected the next head of state.  Another failure of Yushchenko.

Carrousel of clowns: Fresh Parliamentary elections to follow Presidential contest

November 27, 2009

In what has been a full on news day for Ukraine it has become obvious that Ukraine will face another fresh round of Parliamentary elections in the new year.

Party of Regions, Viktor Yanukovych has indicated that they aim to secure both the presidency and the prime-ministership once the Presidential election is over. Effort will be made to form a new coalition to appoint a new government. If that fails the newly elected president will seek ways to dismiss the parliament and hold fresh elections.

Any possibility of meaningful long term constitutional reform will fall by the wayside as Ukraine becomes a one party state.

This is what’s at risk the most. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Yanukovych may soon forsake the ideal of Ukraine adopting a European Parliamentary system in favor of short-term power and control.

Yulia Tymoshenko has conceded as much.Parliamentary elections should not allowed to proceed without first addressing the fundamental issue of constitutional reform and the completion of Ukraine’s transition to a full European parliamentary model of governance.

As long as Ukraine remains subservient to the whim and will of the president wit will continue to falter as politicians sercombe to temptation and power. This all makes the current Presidential election look more and more like a revolving carrousel of clowns.

Yushchenko outlines his threats to democratic reform in his bid for a second term

November 25, 2009

Ukraine’s embattled President Viktor Yushchenko, has launched his bid for a second term of office promising a host of things he cannot deliver, He claims he will secure Ukraine the right to visa free travel within Europe and will dismiss Ukraine’s parliament if they do not conform to his demands and adopt his proposed new constitution which would see the President invested in absolute power and control.

His platform for a second term was presented to a less then packed audience of members of his staff and the remnants of his party Our Ukraine who have remained loyal and supportive of the president.

Yushchenko’s statements and reports in the media have demonstrated why he should not and will not be re-elected to a second term.

Yushchenko’s demands that the parliament must adopt his proposed constitutional reforms or face dismissal shows a complete lack of understanding of Ukraine’s laws and democratic values. Yushchenko attempts to force a referendum to impose constitutional change would be rejected by the courts as it is breach of constitutional order. This is not the first time Yushchenko has acted to usurp power unconstitutionally by seeking to impose his will over Ukraine’s democratically elected parliamentary representatives. Ukraine’s constitution cannot be amended by a simple majority voting at a referendum. It can only be amended with the support of two thirds of Ukraine’s parliament. Any proposal to try and force constitutional reform will be rejected by the Courts and the international community throwing Ukraine back into ongoing civil conflict

Yushchenko’s rhetoric is just that. Even if his attempts to turn the clock back and reinstate a presidential autocracy were presented to a referendum without wide support it would fail. His proposed reforms are undemocratic and unrepresentative. Under Yushchenko’s model the President would hold absolute control and power over all arms of government including the executive, the judiciary and the parliament. Ukraine would no longer be a democratic state with proper checks and balances but subject to arbitrary will of the president.

The fact is Yushchenko cannot and will not be able to deliver any of his “promises”. He has had five years in office and has failed to deliver stability or democracy. His actions have undermined Ukraine’s interests and in the process set back democratic reform and development in Ukraine by 10 to 15 years. The key to European integration is political stability. Yushchenko’s policies provides neither. With less than 4% support and with 83% of Ukrainians indicating that they will not vote for him Yushchenko will not be re-elected to a second term of office.

54 Days and counting

November 23, 2009

With less then eight weeks left before the next presidential election little has changed in terms of expected results.

Ukraine’s embattled President, Viktor Yushchenko, will launch his bid for a second termtoday, a bid that will surely fail.  Whilst the first set of officialopinion polls are yet to be published there is little change expectedin the overall outcome.

The two highest polling candidates remain Viktor Yanukovych and YuliaTymoshenko.  Yasteniuk comes in a distant third – 10 percentagepointed behind Yulia Tymoshenko with the rest of the flotilla laggingeven further behind. With little prospect of any significant changeoccurring in the next 8 weeks.

Yushchenko’s party Our Ukraine is floating four candidates in thiselection with each candidate competing against each other dividingtheir share of the overall vote.

With Yushchenko expected to lose outright in the first round his PartyOur Ukraine will soon after dissolve and split into two with onesection seeking sanction and support from Yulia Tymochenko and theremnants hoping to be taken under Yanukovych’s wing.  This in itselfwill cause some concern as to the constitutionality of a parliamentaryfaction that is no longer a united. Withy the demise of Our Ukrainewill come the consolidation of the two main factions.  A number ofcommentators expect that Our Ukraine supporters will transfer theresupport to Yulia Tymosehnko and give cause for a possible close finishin the final round.

The odds are still in Yanukovychs favor. But his support rating does not appear to be rising as fast as one would expect.

The period between now and December 21st will be crucial.  Candidateshave until December 21 to decide if they will see the election out. Ifthey pull out before then they have a chance of getting their deposit back, ifnot 16 will sure enough lose 2.5 Million hrivinias.

In a rather cynical and blatant statement Sergei Tigipkohas suggested that he might trade his support for a spot on theparliamentary front bench and he has pitched to both Yanukovych andTymoshenko his bid to become Prime Minister.  I guess it is similar tothe US primaries where the various players seek to secure a favorableposition in turn for delivering what could be a decisive and significantnumber of voters.
One commentator has suggested he might receive up to seven percent ofthe vote.  This assessment is a bit high and the seven percent wouldhave to come from somewhere.  One  poll had him level pegging Yushchenko on around 3.5%. Certainly not in a winning position. Tigipko’s support is unlikely to increase much beyondthat level. 

Those supporters who are disappointed at Yushchenko’s standing in thepolls have suggested that Ukraine might vote for the stooge candidate  Vasyl Protyvsikh. This is laughable as a vote for Portyvish will only entrench thepositions held by Tymoshenko and Yanukovych. A vote for Protyvish wouldbe a wasted vote, they would be better off not voting at all.

Living and dying in America: MoTown on the decline

November 21, 2009

Unburied bodies tell the tale of Detroit — a city in despair

by Tim Reid in Detroit 
The abandoned corpses, in white body bags with number tags tied toeach toe, lie one above the other on steel racks inside a giant freezerin Detroit’s central mortuary, like discarded shoes in the back of awardrobe.
Some have lain here for years, but in recent months the number ofunclaimed bodies has reached a record high. For in this city that oncesymbolised the American Dream many cannot even afford to bury theirdead.
“I have not seen this many unclaimed bodies in 13 years on the job,”said Albert Samuels, chief investigator at the mortuary. “It startedhappening when the economy went south last year. I have never seen thismany people struggling to give people their last resting place.”
Unburied bodies piling up in the city mortuary — it reached 70earlier this year — is the latest and perhaps most appalling indignityto be heaped on the people of Detroit. The motor city that once boastedthe highest median income and home ownership rate in the US is today inthe midst of a long and agonising death spiral.
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The murder rate is soaring. The school system is in receivership.The city treasury is $300 million (£182m) short of the funds needed toprovide the most basic services such as rubbish collection. In itspostwar heyday, when Detroit helped the US to dominate the world’s carmarket, it had 1.85 million people. Today, just over 900,000 remain. Itwas once America’s fourth-largest city. Today, it ranks eleventh, andwill continue to fall.

Thousands of houses are abandoned, roofs ripped off, windowssmashed. Block after block of shopping districts lie boarded up. Formermanufacturing plants, such as the giant Fisher body plant that madeBuicks and Cadillacs, but which was abandoned in 1991, are rotting.

Even Detroit’s NFL football team, the Lions, are one of the worst inthe country. Last season they lost all 16 games. This year they havelost eight, and won just a single gane.

Michigan’s Central Station, designed by the same people who gave NewYork its Grand Central Station, was abandoned 20 years ago. Onephotographer who produced a series of images for Time magazine said that he often felt, as he moved around parts of Detroit, as though he was in a post-apocalyptic disaster.
Then in June, the $21,000 annual county budget to bury Detroit’sunclaimed bodies ran out. Until then, if a family confirmed that theycould not afford to lay a loved one to rest, Wayne County — in whichDetroit sits — would, for $700, bury the body in a rough pine casket ata nearby cemetery, under a marker.

Darrell Vickers had to identify his aunt at the mortuary inSeptember but he could not afford to bury her as he was unemployed.When his grandmother recently died, Mr Vickers’s father paid for hercremation, but with a credit card at 21 per cent interest. He said atthe time it was “devastating” to not be able to bury his aunt.
What has alarmed medical examiners at the mortuary is that most ofthe dead died of natural causes. It is evidence, they believe, ofpeople who could not afford medical insurance and medicines and whosefamilies can now not afford to bury them.

Yet in recent weeks there have been signs of hope for Mr Samuelsthat he can reduce the backlog of bodies. Local philanthropists havedonated $8,000 to help to bury the dead. In the past month, Mr Samuelshas been able to bury 11 people. The number of unburied is now down to55.