Thursday, November 11, 2004

A debate?

It has been reported today that there will be a debate between Yuschenko and Yanukovych on November 15. It will be a live broadcast which is significant because it prevents any type of manipulation in the editing room, unless of course there is some sort of delay that might allow for that.

It will be interesting to see if it is a real debate or a tlevised press conference like teh US presidential debates. The first would favor Yuschenko. The second, though not favoring Yanukovych, might at least prevent any potential for disaster.

This is a significant thing and a victory for Yuschenko. To have a chance to make his case in debate cannot but help to get him wider exposure and increase his support. Not very many have seen him unmediated by opposition spin. And this is a real risk for Yanukovych as far as public support goes. He has shown himself to be doing the work of the government and somewhat aloof from the contest and election. Now he will be in the middle of it having to respond to the opposition. If he doesn't do well in a face to face meeting that could hurt him in public opinion.

It is hard to know for sure what is responsible for this. Yuschenko challenged Yanukovych to it but to say that it is Yuschenko that forced him to it might not be correct. Europe and the US are watching--the OSCE called the election a step backwards which for here is pretty significant--and have made a lot of the lack of access to Yuschenko of state controlled and state influenced TV stations. Yanukovych may be running against any US influence in Ukraine, but he cannot ignore Europe, nor can he ignore the largest investor in the Ukraine which is the US.

In any event, this is for public consumption. Yanukovych still might be able to rely on "voting irregularities" on November 21. That is the trump card.

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