The European Parliament, the European Commission, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly offered similar assessments. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that these elections constitute “a step backward for Ukrainian democracy.”
All this is true. But remarkably, President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions failed to secure a majority in spite of massive fraud. I visited Kyiv three days after the elections, when representatives of the opposition and non-governmental organizations rejoiced. Against all odds, they had stood up to the pervasively corrupt regime and won a popular majority.
These flawed elections might in fact mark a step toward renewed democratization, because they exposed just how unpopular the Yanukovych regime actually is. But future developments will depend on how the president, the opposition and the West proceed.