DIASPORA WASTES OPPORTUNITY TO INFLUENCE ELECTION OUTCOME

01.11.12



Ukraine election 2012: Result of votes cast in London

The attention of everyone following the election in Ukraine held last Sunday centred on whether the polls were free and fair.  On past experiences, this in itself was not completely unreasonable.

On the other hand, perhaps this was the red herring of red herrings. 

With the benefit of hindsight, it seems clear that the ruling party did not dare to try to replicate the scale of falsification which it implemented in 2004 and which then led to the Orange Revolution.  

What all the politicians did manage to succeed in, however, was to breed an element of almost total indifference into one significant section of the electorate that could have had a major say in the outcome of the election. The political landscape in Ukraine today could have looked very different.

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Sergiy Burnus is a very bright and motivated young man who arrived in this country last year and works for a leading UK company. He expended no small amount of time and energy in a bid to try and get as many eligible Ukrainian voters in the UK to vote last Sunday. He should be wholeheartedly commended for his efforts and he, and others like him, will continue to receive our unequivocal support in the future.

He has analysed the results of the votes cast at the London polling station (Embassy of Ukraine).  Of the 961 registered voters, only 352 people actually cast their votes. The result of this poll was as follows: Freedom (Свобода) - 126, UDAR - 77, Fatherland (Батьківщина) - 99, Regions (Регіони) - 41, Others - 9.  The table above translates these figures into percentage votes.

There may be reasons for the small turnout (see Dumka no.19).  What cannot be overlooked, however, is the fact that there are many more Ukrainian citizens living in the UK who do not register and, even when registered, do not exercise their right to vote. 

Now let’s expand this point a little further and look at the total number of registered voters beyond the boundaries of Ukraine. 

According to Ukraine’s Central Election Commission, there were a total of 424,536 Ukrainians who registered to vote abroad. Of these, only 20,570 cast their vote.  Yes, read that again, that is 20,570 votes worldwide out of an estimated 5 million Ukrainians that have emigrated from Ukraine since 1991.  Across Ukraine as a whole, voter turnout was between [47-60%], which would have translated into a minimum of 2 million diaspora votes. Instead, the diaspora turnout was less than 0.5%.

Just in case anyone thinks we are inflating figures here, we were reliably informed a couple of weeks ago that at least 800,000 Ukrainians recently settled in Italy and that there are at least as many Ukrainians living in Spain and Portugal.  Greece has no shortage of Ukrainians and then there is, of course, Canada and America…

Now look at the voting statistics for the top two parties in the category of proportional votes as listed on the website of the Central Election Committee with 99% of the votes counted.  The Party of the Regions amassed a total of 6,091,690 (30.07% of 225 parliamentary seats) with Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna Party coming second with 5,160,782 (which equates to 25.47% of the 225 parliamentary seats up for grabs).  Udar, in third place collected a total of 2,822,105 votes – that’s 13.93% of the 225 seats).

We are not suggesting that the proportional outcome would have been different if all 5,000,000 Ukrainians living abroad (or even 50% of them) would have voted, but the margins are small enough for their votes to have made a difference.  

We are alarmed that there is such apathy. Politicians in Ukraine need to examine the reasons: are diaspora voters wary of registering for some reason? Are the diaspora electoral commissions doing enough to encourage registration and postal voting given the distances involved in voting in person? Are the political parties doing enough to provide information and encouragement to the diaspora electorate?

This large section of the electorate needs to be given priority consideration before the Presidential elections in 2014. The voting diaspora could make a massive difference to future election results.  It is too big a problem to ignore.

AUGB General Council

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