It takes a 50% vote total to avoid a runoff election and if exit polls are accurate, Ukraine must prepare for round two on 7 February.
Voters came out in force and there was no shortage of advertising leading up to the balloting. A group of Ukrainians walk past a street with a poster of Ukraine’s Prime Minister and presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko, in Kiev.
Exit polls indicate that former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was the winner in the first round of Ukraine’s Saturday Presidential election. Yanukovych is the most pro-Russia candidate and seems likely to capture over 30% of the popular vote, according to a Channel 5/Razumkov Research Centre survey.
Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a populist politician running on an anti-corruption ticket, will receive around 27% per cent of the popular vote according to the same exit polls.
A total of six exit polls were conducted in the former Soviet republic, some giving slightly better results to either candidate. Of note was the lack of impressive results for Ukrainian businessman Sergei Tigipko, a latecomer to the race, but who had poured large amounts of money into advertising.
Not necessarily surpisingly, most American media outlets, ignorant of the process, seem to have already declared a winner. But we’re off to round two it would seem. If the exit polls are validated by official results, the top two finishers will face off in a final round of balloting.
Presidential elections in Ukraine are under way. This is the fifth time the country is electing a President since gaining independence. Polling stations are open to all voters from 9:00 a.m. till 20:00 p.m. The presidential campaign was officially launched on October 19, 2009.
The country’s Central Election Commission registered 18 out of the 65 people applying for candidacy. Among presidential contenders are the country’s Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko and Head of the Party of Regions Victor Yanukovich who also stood for the 2004 elections.
The country’s current leader Victor Yanukov ich is also fighting for a second term. Other candidates are ex-Speaker and leader of Front of Changes party Arseniy Yatsenyuk, ex-Chairman of Ukrainian National Bank Sergey Tigipko, as well as current Speaker Vladimir Litvin, Interfax reports.
“The presidential ballot will not be disrupted,” Head of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission Vladimir Shapoval told a briefing. Under the law on Presidential elections, the President of Ukraine is elected for the term of 5 years. For holding victory in the presidential ballot, the contender should receive over 50% of votes. Otherwise, the candidate with the maximum number of votes will run for a second round due in three week’s time (February 7).