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Election Shows That Ukraine Remains Completely Divided. The East Didn't Back the Maidanites

Disintegration of the pro-Russian parties, low voter turnout in East means the East is basically disenfranchised, and decidedly pro-Russian

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

The Parliamentary elections in Ukraine that were held this past Sunday have resulted in a sweeping win for the country's pro-Western parties.

The only pro-Russian party or coalition that surpassed electoral threshold and will take seats in the new legislature is Opposition Bloc, which polled at just 9 percent nationally.

<figcaption>Pro-Russian demonstrators in East Ukraine</figcaption>
Pro-Russian demonstrators in East Ukraine

A close reading of electoral results, however, suggests that despite scoring a major electoral victory the pro-Maidan parties have really failed to substantially increase their appeal in Ukraine's east since the toppling of Viktor Yanukovich eight months ago.

Most importantly, electoral data shows that the triumph of pro-European parties came amid above average voter turnout in the more pro-European western-central regions of the country and abysmal voter participation in the more pro-Russian south-east. Indeed, the more eastern the region, the lower the voter participation tended to be. Whereas more than 70% turned up to vote in Lviv oblast, just 32% cast their vote in Lugansk and Donetsk regions.

Clearly numerous former voters of the Party of Regions this time around felt the ballot offered no appealing options. In a position of being able to pick between pro-Maidan parties and the demoralized remnants of the Party of Regions south-easterners by and large simply stayed at home.

Even so the Opposition Block, nonetheless, scored regional victories in the eastern oblasts centered around Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov, Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporozhye where they won more votes than any other individual party. Moreover the Oppositionists and anti-Maidan independents made a sweep of single mandate districts in the east, so that they they will together control about 112 of 423 seats in the Rada.

Three quarters of the seats for pro-European parties is nonetheless a massive victory for them, but it is not a triumph that is built on their increased popularity, but instead on the lower participation of the south-east in the political process and its diminished influence in the legislature in Kyiv.

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