Thursday, November 25, 2004

Mapping the Ukrainian vote 

There has been at least one naysayer in the blogosphere about the protests over the Ukrainian election. Mark Brady (who thinks elsewhere that the U.S. should butt out of Ukraine) writes about the findings of the British Helsinki Human Rights Group, whose report has this note:
The election featured a genuine choice of candidates, active pre-election campaigns, and high voter participation. It is clear that Ukrainian opinion was highly polarized. That meant many people backing a losing candidate would find it difficult to accept a defeat.
This is in fact a feature of all Ukrainian elections since independence. You can draw a map of Ukraine and slice it down the middle passing through Kyiv. (That's an oversimplification, but sufficient for the purposes.)The western half will vote for nationalist, reformist, Ukrainian and western leaning candidates, while the eastern half contains more Russophilic people with greater attachment to the Soviet-era industries of coal and steel production. Interested readers can visit these maps by Prof. John O'Loughlin at U. Colorado to see the turnout and voting patterns of the 1999 elections between Kuchma and the communist candidate Symonenko. In the current election, the western provinces or oblasts are for Yushchenko and the eastern for Yanukovych. But the report goes on,
Foreigners should not encourage civil conflict because the candidate on whom they have lavished expensive support turned out to be a loser.
That's an odd comment, since it is pretty clear that the "winner" received "expensive support" from Russia. The map of the turnout in this election seems pretty clear that something fishy was up. In the eastern provinces, votes jumped over 40% in three weeks time (from the first round.) This is highly unusual. Moreover, the division of the vote there was 96-2 for Yanukovych in Donets'k, where he was governor before he was prime minister. That's Stalin-style figures. (I've been looking for a map of this, but can't find it right now. When I do, I'll post it. )

The Supreme Court, unlike the CEC, is taking the claims of vote fraud more seriously.