Saturday, January 14, 2006

TV and the Ukrainian Parliamentary election campaign

In the last few days the main players in Ukrainian politics have taken part in quite lengthy TV interviews. These can be seen via the Internet as follows: Tymoshenko and Yekhanurov here, and Yushchenko here . Yanukovych appeared on NTN TV - file 1137143820.wmv, but the interview it seems, has been 'pulled' after just one day.

For the first time in Ukraine's history the main protagonists' access to TV in March's VR elections will be equal, so presentations and performances in this medium will be critical. During the 2004 Presidential election campaign Yushchenko and the Orange movement were virtually shut out - this time it's different.

Perceptions of a Ukrainian viewer may be totally different from that of a casual Western viewer, like me, but nevertheless, for anyone interested in political presentation, PR, or even body language, these clips may be worth watching. My humble opinions of them are as follows:

Considering how little time Yekhanurov has spent in the political limelight, he strikes me as a self-confident, eloquent, intelligent, and charming performer. He looks as if he enjoys being interviewed - he's clearly a major asset for the NSNU, whose party list he leads. His Ukrainian is virtually perfect, even though he was born in the the Russian Federation, and is an ethnic Buryat, hence the oriental physiognomy. Yekhanurov seems a master of his brief, and, I imagine, would be difficult to wrongfoot in any debate - not at all the grey, technocrat he was made out to be.

As everyone already knows, Tymoshenko is impressive on TV, very eloquent in both Russian and Ukrainian, highly intelligent, and has a highly charged emotional and forthright manner. She dominates any conversation, frequently interrupting her interviewer, and 'handbagging' anyone who doesn't subscribe to her point of view. [Very reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher in her pomp - a French PM described her as having the lips of Marilyn Monroe...and the eyes of Caligula]. Just like a western politician, she knows the message she intends to present during the interview, and delivers it no matter what.

Yanukovych, in contrast, does not look at all comfortable in a TV studio. His replies to questions appear laboured, and his lack of fluency both is Russian and Ukrainian, all too apparent. He's for sure no 'proffessor'.

Yushchenko has the demeanour of a university tutor in conversation with undergrad students. In his interview he strikes me as being level-headed and confident, but possibly a little bored. His manner is presidential but I'm not sure whether he is capable of delivering destructive verbal blows to any political opponent.

There is quite a way to go before the March 26th elections - with everything to play for. The campaign, I'm sure will be lively, and primarily fought, as in most democratic countries, on TV screens.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bless you!
You are so, so, so right! The fate of the elections rests on image/appearance/spin etc.