Correspondent's Choice

The following article about the Ukranian elections was published by EurActiv on Monday 18th January.

Ukraine faces a 7 February run-off vote between opposition leader Viktor Yanukovich and populist Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko after a presidential election produced no outright winner, early official results showed on Monday.

The election will define how Ukraine, a former Soviet republic of 46 million people, wedged between the European Union and Russia, handles relations with its powerful neighbours and may help unblock frozen IMF aid for its ailing economy.

Yanukovich led with 38% of the vote and Tymoshenko had 24%, the Central Election Commission said after 25% of the ballots from Sunday’s election had been counted. Counting was to continue through the night.

With 60% of ballots counted, outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko has 4.97% of the votes, according to the Ukrainian press.

Analysts expect Tymoshenko to pick up a higher proportion of second round votes from defeated candidates and say Yanukovich may struggle to extend his appeal beyond his support base in the Russian-speaking east of the country.

Tymoshenko, 49, helped lead the pro-Western Orange Revolution against Yanukovich’s rigged 2004 presidential election victory and is most popular in the European-leaning west of the country.

As exit polls were coming out on Sunday, Tymoshenko hailed the result as proof that Yanukovich had no chance in the second round on 7 February and called for talks with eliminated candidates.

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