Interesting discussion in tonight's 'Politklub' with Vitaliy Portnikov on the independent TVi channel.
Below is a summary of some of the comments made by journalists taking part:
On the topic of whether western observers should pull their punches in their election reports:
"We cannot expect [or demand] our decent west European friends to call black white just so Ukraine does not somehow drift eastwards...we should not expect them to compromise their principles.."
Not unexpectedly, there have been significant reports of election fraud during the counting of votes, but we should really scrutinise how seriously law enforcement agencies react and deal with these allegations...this will be the true test of fair elections..
The sentence for election fraud is 3-5 years in prison...and there is great suspicion of the bodies involved in running the election, because of bad experiences in the past...The ugly scenes and battles in several high-profile constituencies, particularly around Kyiv, over just a few seats, risks making things appear much worse that they were. It was therefore a bad mistake for the pro-ruling party candidates to so deliberately and openly attempt to cheat in these few seats. It was widely reported on the day immediately after polling day, that from what western observers saw, the results of elections would be acceptable to EU countries. This prompted a second wave of frauds, particularly in the single mandate, simple majority constituencies, where counting was being deliberately drawn out.
Some of these 'mazhorytarka' candidates are former Party of Regions' deputies who were excluded from their party lists, because they were deemed to be not important enough to figure on the higher rung positions where the likelihood of entering parliament on the party list would be higher. They were left to some degree to run and fund their own campaigns. There are some grounds to assume these guys will take their deputy responsibilities more seriously, having run their own campaigns, and they may even harbour some bitterness toward their party bosses who put them out in the cold to fight their own battles whilst favouring others having 'better connections'.
As a result, the fresh parliament will not be stable....the new boys will have their noses in the air [looking toward the 2015 presidential elections]...it will be difficult for authorities to maintain a solid majority...every law,..especially those linked to taxation and the economy and affecting the 'madzoritarshchyky;, most of whom are significant businessmen in the own right, will have to be negotiated. The 50% party list, 50% 'mazhorytarka' system that produced a 'tilted playing field' may well turn out to have weakened internal discipline inside Party of Regions.
'Svoboda' seem to be the only party not controlled by Ukraine's oligarchic political puppetmasters. They seem to be the only party ready to stand up for the common man against oligarch-controlled parties..including those of the opposition. [The stout defence of their candidates in disputed constituencies bears this out]. This may account for their success particularly in the Kyiv region where, until now, they have been nowhere.
The Communist party was the only realistic place where anti-PoR voters could go in the eastern part of the country, even though everyone was aware they could well side with PoR again. Inside their hearts, the Communists will be bitter that many of their votes were stolen by their probable allies. Their leader, Petro Symonenko may fancy one more shot at the presidency in 2015 - this will also affect his attitude to PoR inn the new parliament.
These views were not all held by the guests on Pornikov's programme, by any means, it's just I thought they seemed to be the most reasonable ones.
p.s. IMO Svoboda may have benefited from the imprisonment of Tymoshenko and Lutsenko. Voters who voted for Svoboda because they felt it was time to 'fight fire with fire', may well have voted otherwise - for Batkivshchyna - had the two opposition leaders been free. Their undoubted electioneering skills would have been most useful during the campaign, it is reasonable to assume therefore that their imprisonment did affect the result of Sunday's polls.
p.p.s. Polish periodical's estimate of how much was spent on the election campaign: