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Cablegate: Presidential Election First Round: Yanukovych

VZCZCXRO0916
PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHKV #0072/01 0181753
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181753Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9147
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KYIV 000072

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL UP
SUBJECT: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION FIRST ROUND: YANUKOVYCH
AHEAD BY TEN POINTS; OBSERVERS REPORT FREE AND FAIR

KYIV 00000072 001.2 OF 002


SUMMARY
--------

1. (SBU) Opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych has held on to
his ten point lead over PM Yuliya Tymoshenko with almost 99%
of votes counted in the January 17 presidential election.
Observers have called the election generally free and fair.
The OSCE ODIHR mission called the election "high quality,"
Ukrainian NGO the Committee of Voters of Ukraine said there
is no reason to question the accuracy of the results, and
ENEMO observers said it was a "significant improvement over
2004." Front runners Yanukovych and Tymoshenko will face off
in a second round match-up on February 7. Tymoshenko has
publicly called on the voters of other "democratic"
candidates to back her in the second round, but a number of
the candidates themselves have announced they will not
formally support her. Yanukovych asserted that his ten point
lead over Tymoshenko will assure him of a second round
victory. Privately some campaign advisors admit that the
results are closer than they expected and that the second
round will be a "real campaign." End Summary.


YANUKOVYCH UP BY TEN
--------------------

2. (U) With 98.99% of the vote counted the Central Election
Commission (CEC) is reporting the following results:

Viktor Yanukovych 35.39%
Yuliya Tymoshenko 25.01
Serhiy Tihipko 13.01
Arseniy Yatsenyuk 6.96
Viktor Yushchenko 5.48
Petro Symonenko 3.55
Volodymyr Lytvyn 2.34
Oleh Tyahnybok 1.43
Against All Candidates 2.2

The remaining ten candidates received less than one percent.
No candidate was able to garner more than 50 percent of the
vote, so a second round election will be held between
Yanukovych and Tymoshenko on February 7. Voter turnout was
66.7 percent. The CEC announced January 18 that they have
received no formal complaints from any presidential
candidates over the conduct of the election.


OBSERVERS: ELECTION WELL RUN, FREE AND FAIR
-------------------------------------------

3. (U) International and domestic observers reported a
generally well run election that meets international
standards. The OSCE ODIHR preliminary report calls the
elections "high quality" and that they "met most OSCE and
Council of Europe commitments." ODIHR called election day
"efficient and orderly," but noted that Ukraine needs to
improve the quality of its national voter registry and
clarify the regulations on home voting prior to the February
7 runoff. The European Network of Election Monitoring
Organizations (ENEMO) observation mission, funded by USAID
through the National Democratic Institute, said that the
election was a "significant improvement over 2004" and that
election violations were "isolated." ENEMO highlighted
widespread "procedural and organizational problems" with
voter lists and "at home" voting.

4. (U) The International Republican Institute (IRI) said
that the election "broadly met international standards" and
is a "positive step forward in building democratic
institutions in Ukraine." IRI also criticized the quality of
voter lists generated by the national voter registry and the
lack of clear instructions to election precincts on how to
amend lists on election day. The Committee of Voters of
Ukraine (CVU), the country's largest election NGO, noted that
while there were some procedural problems, specifically
confusion over the regulations for home voting and making
changes to the voter rolls on election day, they observed
nothing that would call in to question the official results.


CANDIDATES SPEAK OUT, NEXT STEPS
--------------------------------

5. (SBU) Prime Minister Tymoshenko, after the announcement
of exit polls, welcomed the election results and assured her
supporters that she was well positioned for a second round
victory. She called on the supporters of "fellow democratic
candidates" Serhiy Tihipko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, President
Viktor Yushchenko and Anatoliy Hrytsenko to back her

KYIV 00000072 002.2 OF 002


candidacy in the February 7 runoff to avoid having a
"convict" as a president. First Deputy Prime Minister and
Tymoshenko campaign chairman Oleksandr Turchynov announced
January 18 that his team would not file any appeals with the
courts over first round voting. He alleged, however, that
three percent attributed to Yanukovych was due to fraud.

6. (SBU) Yanukovych campaign spokesperson and MP Hanna
Herman told an election night press conference that the
election results showed that voters rejected the "orange
revolution" and want stability and economic growth. She said
that Yanukovych's margin of victory in the first round meant
that he would easily best Tymoshenko in the runoff.
Privately, however, some Yanukovych campaign advisors tell us
that the margin of victory is smaller than their internal
numbers predicted and that the second round "will be a
battle" and a "real campaign." Yanukovych's Party of Regions
January 18 gathered about three thousand supporters in front
of the CEC to celebrate his victory and "ensure there is no
repeat of 2004" when Yanukovych's victory was thrown out by
the courts. Embassy attended the rally, which was peaceful
and orchestrated.


EMBASSY OBSERVERS
-----------------

7. (SBU) Embassy dispatched 17 teams of observers--five in
Kyiv and 12 to various cities and regions in Ukraine.
Reports by Embassy observers generally supported the ODIHR,
IRI, ENEMO and CVU conclusions. There was confusion in many
precincts over the rules regarding changes to the voter list
on election day and for home voting. Much of this confusion
was driven by contradictory public pronouncements from the
Tymoshenko and Yanukovych campaigns of how the CEC or courts
had interpreted the rules.


COMMENT
-------

8. (SBU) The ten percent difference between the two
candidates is enough to keep the race competitive for the
second round. Tymoshenko's primary challenge will be to
rally disaffected 2004 Orange voters. Centrist candidate
Tigipko's 13 percent exceeded predictions; both candidates
will make a major play to appeal to these voters.
Significant court challenges are more likely after the second
round, especially if results are close. However, the
generally free and fair verdict rendered by international
observers, if replicated in the second round, may constrain
that option. We expect Tymoshenko to continue to go negative
against Yanukovych as a way to rally Orange voters.
TEFFT

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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