30th September 2007
Today was the voting day in the snap parliament elections-2007 in Ukraine.
Early in the morning, I heard from my wife’s sister that some of her friends were offered 100 UAH (20 USD) for promising to vote for the Lytvyn’s political block (based on his People’s party – “Narodna partiya“, in Ukrainian only). I said “that’s ugly, and they could just take the money and vote for whomever they want, as it’s impossible to enforce them to vote exactly for Lytvyn”. But that was it as for my reaction in the morning.
Later in the day – when I voted – I learned that my grandma was approached by her neighbour pensioner and offered 50 UAH (10 USD) to vote for Lytvyn’s block. My grandma didn’t know that the “true offer” is at least twice as big, and agreed. Clearly, that neighbour pensioner decided to earn some extra by robbing her fellow pensioners for at least 50 UAH each when offering to sell their votes (offering 50 UAH to just a hundred pensioners gives 1000 USD of pure profit; there are at least 150 pensioners in my grandma’s house).
After paying the “half-price”, that neighbour pensioner woman wrote down my grandma’s passport number and the serial number of the invitation sent by the local elections committee. She also asked to report to her the number of the bulletin after voting, so that they can check if my grandma really voted for Lytvyn. (This is yet another violation of the law, as it is supposed that voting is anonymous. It also indicates that the local committee’s representatives of the Lytvyn block, instead of just counting the votes, may also keep record of all the bulletins, which is also clearly illegal.)
But the worst thing in all this is that my grandma actually… voted for Lytvyn’s block, because she’s honest and she has promised to do so! (Clearly, the Lytvyn block didn’t go far enough to actually check if the bought voters really voted for Lytvyn, as my grandma wasn’t asked about the bulletin number after the voting.)
I can only guess how many honest pensioners were simply bought by Lytvyn to help his party/block jump over the minimal barrier for parliament representation. I strongly doubt that Lytvyn will make into the parliament: his chances were slightly below marginal, based on pre-election polling.
I must say that the practice of buying votes (either with money, goods or some privileges) is quite widespread during elections to local governance bodies; the recent example was the election of Igor Balenko in 2006 to the Kyiv city council. I do remember that a number of 10% discount cards valid in the “Furshet” supermarkets chain (established and owned by Balenko) were distributed among the pensioners all over the city before the elections; there is no doubt that it helped Igor Balenko to enter the city council as people’s deputy.
However, for pan-Ukraine parliamentary or presidential elections, most of the money is put into advertising and agitation tours, not into buying individual votes. If someone’s buying voters, this indicates the disbelief of the corrupted political force in it’s own victory unless marginal and unethical measures are taken.
I believe this is exactly the case with Lytvyn’s block. They do not believe they will make into the new parliament, and try to primitively buy votes.
Frankly speaking, I would expect the Socialist party (headed by Oleksandr Moroz) to do something of the kind, taking into account several critically unfavourable steps undertaken by Moroz, which were (correctly, I presume) interpreted as treachery by his electorate. After the highly successful previous elections, Moroz did everything he could (but shouldn’t, really) to stay in the power. This led to the Socialist party losing 90% of electorate (based on pre-snap-elections polling). Another factor pushing socialists rankings down is that Yuri Lutsenko, the highly charismatic and honest-image minister, left Socialist for his own party, but didn’t have eough time before snap elections and had to join some well-established political party to make it into the parliament. I’m sure this was the second factor for decreasing the ratings of Socialist party.
Finally, I won’t dare predicting the results of the elections, but I think there will be nothing vividly unexpected. The three leader blocks will clearly pass the barrier, also with probably two of the smaller parties (hope not the socialists and not Lytvyn’s block). I leave it to political analysts to predict who will form the coalition with whom in the new government.
Generally, I think these elections were necessary. The least they do is stimulating the development and purification of the Ukraine’s political system.