Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

A Comparative Analysis of the 1994, 1998, and 2002 Election Campaigns for the Nikolayev City Council

Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

A Comparative Analysis of the 1994, 1998, and 2002 Election Campaigns for the Nikolayev City Council

Article excerpt

the level of representative politics. For this reason, people such as teachers, doctors, journalists, students, and pensioners are categorized as representatives of special interest groups.

It is clear from figure 2 that over the past eight years the backgrounds of candidates for the city council have changed significantly. For example, since 1994 the number of candidates representing the government administrative sector has decreased by 9.1 percent. That has certainly been influenced by the socioeconomic situation in Ukraine. Today the majority of the electorate has realized that the existence of the nomenklatura economy only deepens the crisis in the country.

Representation of the financial-industrial sector in the Nikolayev City Council has remained constant since 1994. The representatives of this sector include directors of large firms, whose success at the polls is essentially guaranteed. In their arsenal they have large staffs of employees-a socalled solid electorate-who will vote for their bosses no matter how their businesses are run.

It must be noted that in the latest elections the representation of interest groups in the council decreased by a factor of 1.7, while the number of representatives of the business elite increased by 16.8 percent. Unlike teachers, doctors, and other state employees, business people are not dependent on the city budget and executive committee for their salaries. After the 1998 elections, 14 percent of delegates to the council were doctors, and one-fourth were teachers.3 Finally, the number of candidates representing various political parties has nearly doubled. In 1994 and 1998 partisan representatives to the council were primarily members of the opposition, but the success of propresidential parties in the 2002 elections has begun a process of "partisanization" of the majority of delegates.

Nikolayev is generally considered an agricultural region and a part of Ukraine's "Red Belt." Although a very large number of political parties and unions have run candidates in both local and national elections, the Communist Party has maintained its traditionally strong position. It is the only political party that succeeded in getting its delegates elected in each of the three elections.

The 2002 elections brought about a change in the political landscape of Nikolayev, as we see from an analysis of the party preferences of Nikolayev residents in both the city council elections and the elections to the national parliament (see figure 3; only parties that passed the 4 percent barrier in the Verkhovnaia Rada were included in this comparison). The Communist Party, which won the largest number of votes in the elections to the Verkhovnaia Rada, was not the most popular party in the local elections. It was surpassed, for the first time, by the propresidential bloc "For a United Ukraine!"

Because elections to local government bodies were again conducted in the shadow of elections to the national legislature, some races were more heavily campaigned than others and therefore drew more attention from voters. The races can be ranked in terms of intensity as follows: election of the mayor; election of delegates to the Verkhovnaia Rada in majority districts; election of delegates to the Verkhovnaia Rada by proportional representation; and election of the city council. It is also worth noting that the city council elections received much less coverage in the local media than did the national elections.

All of this resulted in voters not being able to familiarize themselves with the city council candidates and their platforms. Due to the large number of candidates, the majority of voters decided whom to support based on one or more of the following superficial principles: "Delegates should be nonpartisan"; "vote for the party, not the person"; or "delegates must have good character." In addition, the gender of the candidate was also an important deciding factor. This is essentially the same situation that existed in 1998. …

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