May the best manipulator win : 2004 and 2010 Ukrainian presidential elections revisited




Smith, Tony Lee

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Ukraine is currently in the throes of revolution. Will this popular uprising move Ukraine closer to the West and a democratic government or strengthen the country's ties to Putin and Russia? Viktor Yanukovich's second round victory in the 2004 presidential election was nullified by Ukraine's high court due to rampant electoral manipulation. Viktor Yushchenko, supported by hundreds of thousands of protesters in the 2004 Orange Revolution, became president and ushered in, what many hoped would be, a more democratic government. Infighting and competition among the Orange coalition soon rendered the Yushchenko government ineffective. Ukraine's progression towards democracy slowed and ties to Russia began to flourish once again when Yanukovich became Yushchenko's prime minister. In 2010, Yanukovich was elected president in another second round election against Yulia Tymoshenko that observers and academics deemed free and fair. Unfortunately, a new evaluation of both the 2004 and 2010 elections presents a much less encouraging view of Ukrainian politics. As shown in this paper, electoral manipulation was present in both the 2004 and 2010 elections. Additionally, both parties participated in manipulatory behavior in both elections. This finding challenges much of the academic literature to date on Ukrainian politics. In support of this finding of corruption by multiple candidates, a unique list experiment was administered to raion (county) level administrators in Ukraine. These administrators were asked about their views regarding electoral manipulation. The results of this experiment suggest that these administrators are still very influenced by and, arguably, willing to engage in electoral manipulation. The experiment shows that, at least at the raion level, Ukrainian governance has not become more democratic. Overall, the prognosis for democratization efforts in Ukraine is not good.




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