Monday, July 21, 2008

Difficulties for any political 'third force'

Some portions from an article in the latest 'Kommentarii' weekly, giving reasons why any 'third force' is unlikely to emerge in Ukrainian politics any time soon, even though the current polarized 'orange'-'white and blue' political set-up that sprung forth after the Orange Revolution has not produced much benefit to the country:

"One of the central problems for the forces who have pretentions to be a 'third alternative' is the absence in their structures of charismatic leaders. No matter how interesting their party program is, Ukrainian voters invariably make their choice according to personalities. Competent election campaigns with promotion of party leaders have proven to be decisive. Because Ukraine has been living in what can be described as a permanent election campaign race in recent times, new forces never have the opportunity to shine, and if they do, the main political heavyweights 'buy them up', and the existing organizational structures of any third force are merged or absorbed by the major players.

The second problem for 'third forces' is even more difficult — they do not propose practically any alternative ideological messages. At best they manage to develop creative ideas already instigated by the leading political players, and at worst they merely plagiarize them. The thesis, 'they are all bad, and only we care about the interests of the people', seldom finds an adequate response in the hearts of electorate, more likely, it creates even more scepticism. And Ukrainian votes tend to vote only for parties that have solid prospects for entering parliament.

Finally, the the third problem for 'third forces' is the bi-polarity of the Ukrainian politicum, looking either towards the West, or to Moscow, where there is simply no place for any alternative third view. The maximum that can be be hoped for by those entering the big game and who want to 'graze' on either Pro-Russian, or westernized electoral fields, is to steal votes from the true keepers of these two vectors. Moreover, while the definitive geopolitical choice for Ukraine is undecided, political struggles cannot turn to everyday matters, and the creation of an effective project geared to the needs of a certain social group, is simply unreal.

There are many examples in the country's contemporary history where movements based on agricultural workers, youth, feminists, and even ecological movements were only ever marginal. Besides, there have been separate sections for quite a while already for all these target audiences in the programs of the 'first' and 'second forces."

Also from 'Kommentarii', this:

Economic problems of Russia's Fifth column' in Ukraine.

In the light of a new wave of political, economic and informational pressure from Russia on Ukraine it is becoming clear that the Kremlin has no-one in Ukraine to promote its anti-Ukrainian messages. In earlier times Party of Regions would loyally repeat them, but now support for the Russian initiatives in the 'blue and white' camp can be heard only from isolated, withered voices.

Recent statements from Moscow have put 'Regionaly' in a rather uncomfortable position. This is revealed by the opinions of PoR leader Viktor Yanukovych who stated that the Russian State Duma statement on the possibility of revision of wide-ranging Russian-Ukrainian agreements were an unpleasant surprise. The declaration of the vice-premier of the Russian Federation Sergey Ivanov, that Russia will be compelled to respond to Ukraine's entry into NATO with the introduction of a visa regime for Ukrainians, was self-consciously called by Viktor Fedorovych, as "just a proposal".

It is clear that PoR has declined to make any firm statements, indicating an unstable internal situation exists inside 'Reginaly'. It's no secret that PoR's Ahmetov-Kolesnikov wing co-ordinates its activities in many matters with the Presidential Secretariat, which has its own views on the 'Russian vector'. Therefore it is not convenient for Regionaly right now to echo Moscow's opinions and enter into conflict with Viktor Yushchenko. In this context it is necessary to note that this conditionally"pro-presidential" wing of PoR controls a number of radically Pro-Russian organisations in Donbas, e.g the recently forbidden civic organisation 'Donetskaya Respublika', 'Svyatogora', and 'Union born by Revolution'. The Donetsk City Council Secretary Nikolai Levchenko who carefully cultivates an image of an ardent fighter with Ukrainian nationalism, is considered a protege of Boris Kolesnikov.

In Crimea there is a similar situation; 'Regionaly', having secured themselves at local authority level, do not see any economic reason for close co-operation with the Kremlin. If in earlier times financial assistance from Moscow was an attractive bonus for maintaining 'correct ideology', now there is less economic sense for the leaders of the Autonomous Republic to go into conflict with Kyiv. In order for the Kremlin to advance its policies in Ukraine it is compelled to work with political outcasts - The Progressive Socialists of Natalia Vitrenko, the Party Russian-Ukrainian Union, the Crimean Communist Leonid Grach and others. However these forces are only capable of making a lot of noise and creating an informational background, but cannot really help Russia in any way to lobby its interests in Ukraine.


UkrToday said...

Thanks again for your posts and analytical input. I tend to agree a third force is very difficult to generate. Its a bit like a lava lamp or the peloton in the Tour de France. I doubt that Baloha or Yushchenko can gender enough support in the community to build a notable alliance, let alone a faction that wields significant political influence or domination in any coalition. The divisions of politics in Ukraine are not along the standard lines of socialism versus capitalism. democratic Republic, Conservative versus Labour.

Nationalism thankfully is hard to build on without, as you have highlighted, a charismatic character.

But major parties grew in strength and also waiting.

The problem facing BYuT is that its foundation is based around one person. If that person leaves or suffers a fall in public opinion the fortunes of her party will fall also. The question that needs to be asked is who could pick up the pieces and support.

the Socialist Party is not yet dead in the water and if they can unite they will have a chance to regain a set on the center stage.

Statistics show that only 4-6% of voters actually change position. Analyses of the last two Parliamentary Elections and the various presidential ballots in 2004 show that very little change has occurred in he peoples political alliance.

Tymoshenko and party of Regions, The Communist Party of Ukraine and Lytvyn all increased their support base in terms of percentage of the vote. The main losers were the SPU and Our Ukraine. Analysis of the vote showed that there was a consolidation of the vote with support for minor parties on the decline. This explains the increase in both Yulia and Party or Regions vote. yes there was some minor shifting in the middle to lower ground but overall it did not influence the outcome of the 2007 election.

It is difficult seeing Balaoa and his centerist party finding common ground other then on fiscal policy. Their foriegn. Nationalist and ethentity policy will always prevent them from becoming a serious major force in Ukraine today

Ine thing for sure is that Ukraine is not a boring country and it's political development never ceases to amase and amuse.

A bolshoi paradox.

elmer said...

This is a very, very interesting article.

But I think it ignores a few things:

1) Why is a 'third force' needed? People voted for Yushchenko, and came out in masses to vote for him, because he articulated a clear goal - getting rid of Kuchmism, getting rid of corruption, implementing freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and clean elections. And getting rid of a hugely corrupt oligarchy firmly in the hands of corrupt oligarchs.

Unfortunately, he seems to have since abandoned the promise of the Orange Revolution.

2) I think the article ignores what a person can do when that person articultes clear goals and goes to the people - and bypasses the oligarchs.

Lutsenko is such an example, with his National Self-Defense movement.

Massive numbers of people came out to his see him, to attend his rallies. Lutsenko has consistently had as his top priority - clean government, fighting corruption.

His party aligned itself with Yushchenko's NUNS, and unfortunately, with Baloha steering Yushchenko, has been undermined.

Yushchenko even went to the extent of telling Lutsenko to "lay off the oligarchs" when Lutsenko started doing his job.

3) The article ignores, and does not explain, how assorted corrupt oligarchs manage to hold on to power. Knowing that Chernovetsky, the mayor of Kyiv is corrupt, people in Kyiv still re-elected him.

Knowing that Akhmetov acquired his $33 billion through corruption, people still voted him into parliament at the top of his party list - and Yanukovych's son as well, whose only qualification is that he plays billiards.

Why do people keep voting for these corrupt thugs? The article does not explain.

4) The article ignores all of the efforts of Tymoshenko to fight corruption, to implement clean government.

Here is yet another example of the tug-of-war that goes on, to the detriment of Ukraine and its people.

The Odessa-Brody pipeline, which was designed to increase Ukraine's dependence on Russia for oil, actually ended up pumping oil for Russia.

Now, Yushchenko wants to implement yet another corrupt deal for reversing the flow of oil, using oil supplies from Central Asia.

Who's the beneficiary? Another oligarch - Kolomoisky - who seems to switch his allegiances to whoever in government can enrich him.

And Yushchenko keeps looking for money men who can prop up a bid for his re-election as president.

Which seems to be the governing principle of government and politics in Ukraine, with the exception of a few people like Tymoshenko and Lustenko - which oligarch should the government please today?

He would be better off looking to the people, and keeping the promises he made during the Orange Revolution.

UkrToday said...

Elmer stated "I think the article ignores what a person can do when that person articultes clear goals and goes to the people - and bypasses the oligarchs."

I agree with the general thrust of your comments BUT I do not see Lutsenko or People's self Defence being the man or party to deliver any meaningful change. Yulia has shown more promise but fails to follow through with her commitments. The proposed constitutional changes is one such example.

Politics in Ukraine is not looking promising. Party of Regions being the most stable and professional in its approach. Problem with Poor is that they also have not made a strong commitment to policy and have left the door wide open to negotiation with Our Ukraine and Yushchenko.

From my observations Yushchenko and Our Ukraine are the main cause for concern and reason why Ukraine is falling behi9nd in all respects.

I agree that not much is being said about what is being done behind the scenes in terms of administrative change of culture.

Its evolution not revolution that Ukraine needs and its just a question of time and how fast things evolve. What is clear is that Yushchenko has removed or seriously harmed Ukraine's bid to become a member state of the EU.

DLW said...

I'd suggest that "third wave" cd be mini-parties that operate only at the local level and get their members to vote strategically together on alt criteria than personality....