Friday, March 10, 2006

TV debates

The plodding Ukrainian Parliamentary election campaign may perhaps be enlivened by a series of debates scheduled to take place on Channel 5 TV, but I'm sure they will not resemble in any way the truly memorable, incredibly tense and rivetting Yanukovych-Yushchenko duels during the 2004 Presidential campaign.

The debates with be head-to-heads between pairs of parties - with Socialists up against Lytvyn's bloc on 12th March, Communists against BYuT 18th March, and PRU against NSNU, [probably featuring Yanukovych vs Yekhanurov], on the 19th.

Whether you love her or hate her Tymoshenko is a class act on TV, and the others do not like being 'handbagged' by her. Much better to have had a three-way debate between the three largest parties. PR, NSNU, and BYuT, who currently lead the ratings.

Robotic Yanukovych against the more suave Yekhanurov could be interesting, but with other members' of their respective political parties also taking part, and the possibility of them 'pulling their punches' because of 'under-the-table' coalition deals, may mean that these confrontations may not be the show-downs viewers would like to see.

There was an interesting OP conducted in in the easternmost Ukrainian city of Lugansk showing PR at 31%, BYuT 9%, Vitrenko's bloc 8%, Ne Tak 6%, Socialists 5%, Communists 3%, NSNU 3%. PR are not as strong as perhaps would have been expected here. A significant degree of apathy of some of those questioned was also present, so across the country, there is still plenty to play for in this campaign.

There has been some talk by commentators of grand coalitions, while others have spoken of a 'technical' cabinet after the elections. 'Technical' is sometimes used by Ukrainian politicians to 'fudge' explanations, [e.g. political deals fail to be clinched for 'technical' reasons, or 'disappeared' gas is euphemistically called 'tekhnichniy haz'], so to me 'technical cabinet' has a whiff of informal deals made by oligarchic groups pulling the strings. PR #1 Yanukovych has been described as a 'parovoznik' - just the engine-driver or 'front-man' who will get PR into the VR, and then will be demoted by the oligarchic power-brokers.

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