Ukraine to Re-Run Election

News on the Ukrainian election crisis: Ukraine_revolution is reporting that their Supreme Court has declared the previous election invalid and has ordered a new election to be held on Dec. 26.

CNN confirms the report, and adds that outgoing President Leonid Kuchma is not going to stand in the way of the new election, which is a blessing. He could have simply ignored the ruling and escalated the crisis.

If he had done so, he would have been following the historical example of our own President Andrew Jackson, who ignored our Supreme Court when it tried to stop him from removing the last Indian tribes from east of the Mississippi along the “Trail of Tears”. (The Supreme Court had much less power in that era than it does today.) When the Supreme Court’s ruling came down, Jackson is reported to have had a tart response for Chief Justice John Marshall: “John Marshall has made his decision. Now let him enforce it!”

Such a decision in Ukraine would almost certainly have led to civil unrest. Kuchma’s decision to take a more conciliatory path is therefore very important.

UPDATE: The NY Times reports that Kuchma may not have backed away from his candidate, Viktor Yanukovych, quite as much as we thought. After announcing that he would not oppose a new election, he apparently tried to get Ukraine’s parliament to swallow changes in the law that would strip the Presidency of much of its power — ensuring, in effect, that when the new election was held the winner would inherit a crippled office. Since Kuchma’s man, Yanukovych, is universally expected to lose in a fair election to opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko, it’s not hard to read this as a sly attempt to stab Yushchenko in the back even while making nice with him in public. So far the parliament has not approved the measure.

Also in the Times: Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed off his earlier vociferous support for Yanukovych, saying now that he will support whoever the people of Ukraine elect. That’s got to be a serious blow to the hopes of Yanukovych…