Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Disappointing, but not Surprising

Yulia Tymoshenko, the loser in Sunday's election, plans to challenge the results in court despite all the independent observers calling the election free and fair. I admit, I would have preferred her over the Mechanic, but she lost. She and the Orange coalition had five years to do something with the country and they blew it. That's what happens when you screw up governance--you get booted. 

What's actually sad, though, is that moves like this make Ukraine even less of a democracy than ever. It's not as if observers found wide-spread irregularities, or even that the results were contrary to expectations, exit polling, or pre-polling. People are frustrated. So they booted the incumbent president in the first round of voting and the standard-bearer of the ruling government in the second round. 

Does it suck that the financial crisis happened on the Orange watch? Yes, most definitely. Can Yaunkovych fix the economy? Not likely. Are both candidates in the pocket of powerful oligarchs? Definitely. But it seems to me that when the candidates reject the results of an election because they lose (and I think Yaunkovych would have done the same thing had the shoe been on the other foot), then the legitimacy of the entire system is in doubt. 

I can't help but think this is just a ploy for some kind of leverage with the new administration. Maybe she wants to hang on to her prime minister post, or maybe she wants a voice in some other way in the new administration, but it looks to me like the only way she wins is if the appropriate judges are in her pocket rather than Yaunkovych's. And maybe that's the deal. Either way, it is a sad day for democracy in Ukraine. 

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