After her defeat in Ukraine’s second round presidential run-off, Yulia Tymoschenko has declared her intention to contest the results of the election, despite international recognition of her rival’s victory.
Indeed, Commission President José Manuel Barroso has already congratulated Viktor Yanukovich on his win in the 7th February run-off vote, which he achieved with a slim 3.48% majority. Ms Tymoschenko remains adamant, however, that Mr Yanukovich’s win is not legal and that around one million crucial votes were invalid, a number which could potentially invalidate his victory.
There could be severe implications for the EU, for Mr Yanukovich is known for his pro-Russian stance in comparison to Ms Tymoschenko’s more European positioning.
During the election campaign in January, for instance, Tymoschenko vowed to do everything she could to bring about EU membership for Ukraine if she were elected as President. To this aim she also proposed negotiating a political association agreement with the EU and establishing an EU-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement.
Whether the accusation of fraud is legitimate or not, the very fact that the election is to some degree open to contention suggests that despite the supposedly groundbreaking Orange Revolution (or maybe because of it?) Ukraine is still haunted by the spectre of corruption. It implies that Tymoschenko’s time as Prime Minister did not significantly (or at all?) improve Ukraine’s democratic situation and thus raises questions about her ability to bring about significant change in the position of President.
It is clear that Ukraine still has a way to go when it comes to democratic stability, something that will not necessarily be helped even if Yanukovich is confirmed as President, however, for in this situation Tymoschenko would be expected to remain as Prime Minister, and such an impasse is unlikely to be conducive to stabilisation!
So we await the verdict of Ukraine’s Election Commission, which is likely to confirm Mr Yanukovich’s victory this week, and remain apprehensive about Ukraine’s prospects for progress either way…
One thing seems certain however: EU membership looks set to remain a speck on the horizon for a while yet.