Analyzing Ukrainian Elections, Part 2

This is the second part of two posts analyzing Ukrainian elections. This second part will focus upon many factors that lead to Ukraine’s exceptional regional polarization. The first part can be found here.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

Two Ukraines

Modern Ukraine is a strange hybrid of two quite different regions. One part, composed of western and central Ukraine, is politically more aligned with the West; it favors, for instance, joining the European Union. This part includes the capital Kiev. The other part of Ukraine, consisting of the Black Sea coast and eastern Ukraine, remains more loyal to Russia and the memory of the Soviet Union. It includes Donetsk Oblast (formerly named Stalino Oblast), the most populous province in the country.

This division is reflected in Ukrainian politics. Take the 2004 presidential election, in which pro-Western candidate Viktor Yushchenko faced off against pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych:

Link to Map of 2004 Ukrainian Presidential Election, Round 3; Image Courtesy of ElectoralGeography

Few things better illustrate the boundary between east and west Ukraine than this election, which Mr. Yushchenko ended up winning by a seven-point margin.

These divisions have long-standing roots. During the 16th and 17th centuries, for instance, much of Ukraine was under the control of the Poland-Lithuania. This country, which at one point constituted the largest nation in Europe, declined in the 18th century and was eventually partitioned by its stronger neighbors Prussia, Russia, and Austria.

Here is a map of Poland-Lithuania at its peak:

Link to Map of Poland-Lithuania

As the map makes clear, there is a strong correlation between the parts of Ukraine once controlled by Poland-Lithuania and the parts of Ukraine that today vote for pro-Westerners such as Mr. Yushchenko. Although Poland-Lithuania is long gone, the vestiges of Polish influence still exist in these places, drawing western and central Ukraine closer to the West than eastern Ukraine and the Black Sea region.

These two parts of Ukraine differ in another, even more important aspect: language. Take a look at the most Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine:

Link to Map of Linguistic Division in Ukraine

The correlation between the percentage of Russian speakers and the vote for pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych is even stronger here. The three provinces with more than 60% of Russian-speakers gave Mr. Yanukovych’s his strongest support; Mr. Yanukovych managed to gain greater than 80% of the vote in each of them, despite losing the overall vote by 7%.

Language was a matter directly related to the Soviet Union. While on paper all languages were equal in the Soviet Union, in reality there was little question that speaking Russian was necessary to succeed. Today the situation is the opposite; the government encourages individuals to speak Ukrainian, although many in the country use Russian.

Ironically, Mr. Yanukovych himself is a native-born Russian-speaker. According to the Kiev Post, his Ukrainian remains imperfect to this day. The current president is reported to desire adding Russian to Ukraine’s list of official languages (which at the moment includes solely Ukrainian). This would be quite controversial if actually done.

Ukraine’s Future

Polarization, like that illustrated in the humorous picture above, is a disturbing phenomenon for any country. In Ukraine’s 2004 presidential election, all but one province gave more than 60% of the vote to a single candidate. This is the type of political division that sometimes leads to civil war, such as which occurred in Yugoslavia. That is one possible path for Ukraine to follow, unlikely as it may seem at the moment.

Yet polarization of this sort does not necessarily lead to separation. In the 2010 presidential election, polarization declined slightly; as memories fade, this trend may continue. And fortunately for Ukraine, the East-West division does not extend to ethnicity; Russian-speakers and Ukrainian-speakers may have a different language, but they look the same. It is a sad comment on the human condition that this makes a break-up of Ukraine less likely.

Moreover, a number of other countries contain similar electoral divisions without splitting up. Former East Germany votes quite differently from former West Germany (especially with regards to the Left Party, the ex-communist party), but Germany certainly will not break-up into pieces anytime soon. After the Civil War, the South unanimously supported one party for decades – parts of it still do, if one excludes blacks – but the idea of another national schism is unthinkable today. If things go well for Ukraine, the electoral divide in its voting patterns may remain nothing more than that.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

Analyzing Ukrainian Elections, Part 2

This is the second part of two posts analyzing Ukrainian elections. This second part will focus upon many factors that lead to Ukraine’s exceptional regional polarization. The first part can be found here.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

Two Ukraines

Modern Ukraine is a strange hybrid of two quite different regions. One part, composed of western and central Ukraine, is politically more aligned with the West; it favors, for instance, joining the European Union. This part includes the capital Kiev. The other part of Ukraine, consisting of the Black Sea coast and eastern Ukraine, remains more loyal to Russia and the memory of the Soviet Union. It includes Donetsk Oblast (formerly named Stalino Oblast), the most populous province in the country.

This division is reflected in Ukrainian politics. Take the 2004 presidential election, in which pro-Western candidate Viktor Yushchenko faced off against pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych:

Link to Map of 2004 Ukrainian Presidential Election, Round 3; Image Courtesy of ElectoralGeography

Few things better illustrate the boundary between east and west Ukraine than this election, which Mr. Yushchenko ended up winning by a seven-point margin.

These divisions have long-standing roots. During the 16th and 17th centuries, for instance, much of Ukraine was under the control of the Poland-Lithuania. This country, which at one point constituted the largest nation in Europe, declined in the 18th century and was eventually partitioned by its stronger neighbors Prussia, Russia, and Austria.

Here is a map of Poland-Lithuania at its peak:

Link to Map of Poland-Lithuania

As the map makes clear, there is a strong correlation between the parts of Ukraine once controlled by Poland-Lithuania and the parts of Ukraine that today vote for pro-Westerners such as Mr. Yushchenko. Although Poland-Lithuania is long gone, the vestiges of Polish influence still exist in these places, drawing western and central Ukraine closer to the West than eastern Ukraine and the Black Sea region.

These two parts of Ukraine differ in another, even more important aspect: language. Take a look at the most Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine:

Link to Map of Linguistic Division in Ukraine

The correlation between the percentage of Russian speakers and the vote for pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych is even stronger here. The three provinces with more than 60% of Russian-speakers gave Mr. Yanukovych’s his strongest support; Mr. Yanukovych managed to gain greater than 80% of the vote in each of them, despite losing the overall vote by 7%.

Language was a matter directly related to the Soviet Union. While on paper all languages were equal in the Soviet Union, in reality there was little question that speaking Russian was necessary to succeed. Today the situation is the opposite; the government encourages individuals to speak Ukrainian, although many in the country use Russian.

Ironically, Mr. Yanukovych himself is a native-born Russian-speaker. According to the Kiev Post, his Ukrainian remains imperfect to this day. The current president is reported to desire adding Russian to Ukraine’s list of official languages (which at the moment includes solely Ukrainian). This would be quite controversial if actually done.

Ukraine’s Future

Polarization, like that illustrated in the humorous picture above, is a disturbing phenomenon for any country. In Ukraine’s 2004 presidential election, all but one province gave more than 60% of the vote to a single candidate. This is the type of political division that sometimes leads to civil war, such as which occurred in Yugoslavia. That is one possible path for Ukraine to follow, unlikely as it may seem at the moment.

Yet polarization of this sort does not necessarily lead to separation. In the 2010 presidential election, polarization declined slightly; as memories fade, this trend may continue. And fortunately for Ukraine, the East-West division does not extend to ethnicity; Russian-speakers and Ukrainian-speakers may have a different language, but they look the same. It is a sad comment on the human condition that this makes a break-up of Ukraine less likely.

Moreover, a number of other countries contain similar electoral divisions without splitting up. Former East Germany votes quite differently from former West Germany (especially with regards to the Left Party, the ex-communist party), but Germany certainly will not break-up into pieces anytime soon. After the Civil War, the South unanimously supported one party for decades – parts of it still do, if one excludes blacks – but the idea of another national schism is unthinkable today. If things go well for Ukraine, the electoral divide in its voting patterns may remain nothing more than that.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

Mexican Immigrants and the 2012 Mexican Presidential Election

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

There are quite a number of Mexican citizens living in America. Much political attention has been paid to these people by both American political parties. Liberals hope that the votes of their children will carve out a new permanent Democratic majority. Conservatives, on the other hand, relentlessly campaign against undocumented immigrants and “amnesty.”

When immigrant rallies occur, conservative media frequently focus on immigrants from Mexico waving Mexican flags. The implication is that these people are more loyal to Mexico than the United States.

Let’s take this thought a bit further, to a subject which most conservatives don’t think about. Like the United States, Mexico will have a presidential election in 2012. There are a lot of Mexican citizens in the United States (whether documented or undocumented). What if they voted?

So far they have not. Before the 2006 presidential election, Mexicans living abroad had to physically be present in Mexico to vote. Given the difficulty and expense of doing this (for all expatriates, not just Mexican), this effectively disenfranchised the Mexican expatriate population.

Before the 2006 presidential election, a new law was passed. This allowed Mexicans living abroad to register for an “overseas” ballot. The expectations were quite high; imagine the power of Mexico’s enormous expatriate vote to affect domestic Mexican politics.

As it turns out, however, only 32,632 Mexican citizens living in America bothered to take the offer. Most of them probably didn’t know about the procedure, or perhaps found it too complex. Apparently Mexican immigrants are just as disconnected to Mexican politics as they are to American politics (or more disconnected, in all probability).

Whether turn-out will be just as low in 2012 is still a mystery. Still, it’s pretty fascinating to consider what might happen if expatriate voting actually went into high-gear. What if the current ban on campaigning abroad was overturned? Imagine the PRI holding a political rally in California (or better yet, Arizona!). How about the PAN running advertisements on Univision?

Probably nothing more would piss nativists off than having Mexican political parties physically campaigning in the United States for the Mexican immigrant vote. It’s a humorous, if slightly unrealistic, thought. 

 

Mexican Immigrants and the 2012 Mexican Presidential Election

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

There are quite a number of Mexican citizens living in America. Much political attention has been paid to these people by both American political parties. Liberals hope that the votes of their children will carve out a new permanent Democratic majority. Conservatives, on the other hand, relentlessly campaign against undocumented immigrants and “amnesty.”

When immigrant rallies occur, conservative media frequently focus on immigrants from Mexico waving Mexican flags. The implication is that these people are more loyal to Mexico than the United States.

Let’s take this thought a bit further, to a subject which most conservatives don’t think about. Like the United States, Mexico will have a presidential election in 2012. There are a lot of Mexican citizens in the United States (whether documented or undocumented). What if they voted?

So far they have not. Before the 2006 presidential election, Mexicans living abroad had to physically be present in Mexico to vote. Given the difficulty and expense of doing this (for all expatriates, not just Mexican), this effectively disenfranchised the Mexican expatriate population.

Before the 2006 presidential election, a new law was passed. This allowed Mexicans living abroad to register for an “overseas” ballot. The expectations were quite high; imagine the power of Mexico’s enormous expatriate vote to affect domestic Mexican politics.

As it turns out, however, only 32,632 Mexican citizens living in America bothered to take the offer. Most of them probably didn’t know about the procedure, or perhaps found it too complex. Apparently Mexican immigrants are just as disconnected to Mexican politics as they are to American politics (or more disconnected, in all probability).

Whether turn-out will be just as low in 2012 is still a mystery. Still, it’s pretty fascinating to consider what might happen if expatriate voting actually went into high-gear. What if the current ban on campaigning abroad was overturned? Imagine the PRI holding a political rally in California (or better yet, Arizona!). How about the PAN running advertisements on Univision?

Probably nothing more would piss nativists off than having Mexican political parties physically campaigning in the United States for the Mexican immigrant vote. It’s a humorous, if slightly unrealistic, thought. 

 

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