Yesterday Ukrainians went to the polls to elect a new parliament. Exit polls showed seven parties entering parliament. With over 35% of the votes counted as this article was being written, President Petro Poroshenko’s bloc is going head to head with Arseniy Yatseniuk’s People’s Front, with at this point a slight lead for the latter of 0,16%.
Exit polls published last night show seven parties entering parliament: the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko (23%), Yasteniuk’s People’s Front (21.3%), party of Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovy Samopomich (13.2%), Opposition Bloc (7.6%), Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party (6.4%), nationalists Svoboda (6.3%) and Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna (5.6%). Based on this projection, President Poroshenko on Sunday declared that pro-Western parties won an overwhelming majority in parliament. It could even mean a constitutional majority. However, the elections also showed a historically low turnout: 52,42%, with the lowest turnouts understandibly registered in war-torn Luhansk (32.87%) and Donetsk (32.4%) regions, but also in other eastern and southern regions like Odessa, Kherson, Zaporizhya and Nikolayev. The low turnout marks the challenge for the new authorities (government and to-be-confirmed parliament) of regaining the trust in those regions.
Live counting: Poroshenko’s bloc vs. Yatseniuk’s People’s Front
With 50,08% of the votes counted, the struggle for leadership is between Petro Poroshenko’s bloc (21.45%) and Yatseniuk’s People’s Front (21.61%). The results at this point show 6 parties entering parliament: of those mentioned in the exit polls, only far right-wing Svoboda is still struggling to pass the threashold of 5%
Russian deputy Foreign Minister Grigori Karasin said Moscow accepts the legitimacy of the Ukrainian election despite the ‘rather harsh and dirty campaign.’
Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament, Elmar Brok, stated that the results (of the exit polls) are very significant for the Ukrainian democracy and building of the rule of law. He further said ‘the decisive fact is that democratic parties received a majority. The results of these elections is a refusal of extreme right left-wing parties, and a choice for pro-European forces and for democracy. This will end talks of fascism in Ukraine, as those parties do not play any role.’
US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Payatt and US Ambassador to the OSCE Daniel Baer called the vote ‘yet another step in Ukraine's democratic journey.’
The OSCE observers’ mission in its preliminary remarks said the election generally upheld democratic commitments and offered a real choice. Kent Harstedt, Special Coordinator for the OSCE in Europe, said "The elections marked an important step in Ukraine’s aspirations to consolidate democratic elections in line with its international commitments.” He said the voting and counting processes were transparent and the campaign was competitive, but there were some cases of intimation. Although the media environment was diverse, Harstedt noted a lack of autonomy for some media.