Introduction

Article excerpt

When Oleh Ilnytzkyj invited me to edit a special issue of Canadian Slavonic Papers devoted to the 2004 presidential election in Ukraine, no one anticipated that this event would turn out to be of historic significance. It just seemed like a good topic for a theme issue. So notices went out soliciting manuscripts and the processes of adjudication and editing began. Due to the specialized nature of the papers, referees scattered far and wide around the world were contacted and, thanks to email, responded admirably. As events unfolded, however, deadlines had to be extended while contributors toiled over their analyses. These were no ordinary elections. Originally planned for late spring or early summer, this issue had to be rescheduled for late in 2005.

Of the several aspects and approaches available for the study of elections, our contributors independently of one another by and large settled on analyzing media coverage of the event. Perhaps this might have been expected, since the Canadian Association of Slavists itself is a multidisciplinary learned society where students of language, history and culture predominate, and with only a minority of its members political scientists. The same could be said for its journal. Therefore the reader should not anticipate a collection of articles featuring heavily quantitative, political science-style psephology, with statistical tables, correlations, and regressions. Yet for all their commonality each article has something unique and valuable to say about the event. Together they offer an original contribution to the study of the "Orange Revolution," quite distinctive from and complementary to some of the earlier articles appearing in other journals this year.1 With contributions from North American and European scholars, this special issue goes beyond mere numbers to explore the less tangible aspects of democracy in Ukraine, including communications, perceptions, campaign strategies, and the influence of the mass media.

A year after the "Orange Revolution"-as the events of November-December 2004 surrounding the presidential election were quickly and indelibly dubbed-the extent to which politics in Ukraine have really changed from authoritarian to democratic is still disputed. Certainly the willingness of hundreds of thousands of people to fill the wintry streets and squares of the country's major cities in protest against the second round of voting was an unprecedented demonstration of civic-mindedness, the awakening of civil society. …