Friday, January 01, 2010

What does 2010 hold in store for Ukraine?

In a previous blog I mentioned an excellent in-depth analytic article in 'Leviy Bereg' that followed a seminar held jointly by the publication and the Kyiv Horshenin Institute, to predict what 2010 will bring to Ukraine.

The article makes the following conclusions, which I've loosely translated below:

The battle between Viktor Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko will continue, not only during the election campaign, but also after it. Interrelations between these two politicians will determine the state of Ukrainian politics for at least a year - this will be not a battle of ideas, platforms or concepts, but rather an interpersonal fight.

Next year the prerequisites for the formation of a wide coalition and for instilling order in the country will be actualized. The only question at the moment is who is to be the moderator of this process - Yanukovych or Tymoshenko. The style of moderation will depend on which of those two becomes President, as well as what diplomatic moves are made, and what the main subject of negotiations will be, but the result will be one and the same, whatever the scenario. A broad parliamentary coalition with a high ability to co-operate with the president would improve conditions for effective realization of presidential authority.

On February 7th 2010, [the date of the final round of the presidential elections] it will not be just the president that is chosen, but also the prime minister. The result of the election will be decided by the extent one or other main candidate can garner the support of the candidate who comes third in the first round.

Everyone understands well the conditionality of any pledges made to any future prime minister because it is not the President that designates the PM. However, it is obvious that the appearance of a 'tandem' would give either of the two presidential candidates numerous electoral benefits. It appears, at the moment, that most desired partner, both for Yanukovych and for Tymoshenko, is Serhiy Tihipko.

Next year will be a year of rotation of elites. Serious processes with disintegration and the regrouping of large party formations will occur inside political parties. Next year will be the year when new political realities will be conceived.

Whoever becomes president, Ukraine will be fated to reboot its relations with the Russian Federation, but it will not be possible to avoid conflicts. From a predominantly humanitarian plane they will be transferred to an economic plane and will not be limited exclusively to questions of the price of gas.

Whoever becomes President in Ukraine, under the pretext of restoration of order, a roll-back to authoritarianism and curbs to freedom of speech in its current form, will unavoidably occur.

It is unlikely next year will become a year of breakthrough in the economic sphere. The economic crisis will not have been overcome, and political processes (including frequent election campaigns) will only contribute to its deepening.

The primary task of the new president will be to obtain an obedient and loyal parliament, and for the duration of the next year we could see a complete neutralization of the system of parliamentarism in Ukraine - the Verkhovna Rada's role gradually reduced to purely nominal functions.

The role of local self-governance will grow - regional elections will become the third stage of the presidential campaign and either they will make it possible for the new president to consolidate victory, or they will lead to weakening of his, or her, position and will create preconditions for the loosening of the foundations of presidential authority. The elected President will not be able to ignore the interests of regional elites and it will have to build new relations with the regions.

p.s. Happy New Year to visitors of this blog! I'll try and post more regularly in the weeks to come!


Hans said...

Hi LEvko, thanks for summarizing the article and laying out its conclusions. I think Kostya Bondarenko and his Horshenin Institute generally do a good job with their analysis, so good to see it in English as well.

Happy New Year, should be an exciting early 2010 for Ukraine certainly...

I finally got my blog back up -- and am hoping to chip in some things as well soon. Thanks for keeping up with things!


UkrToday said...

Back to the Future

With less then 10 days remaining until the first round ballot there are only two candidates that can progress to the second round.

According to a survey conducted by U.S.-based International Foundation for Electoral Systems and financed by the United States Agency for International Development
Viktor Yanukovych (31.2%) and Yulia Tymoshenko (19.1%) will face off in a final ballot expected to be held on February 7. The next highest candidate Sergei Tigipko (4.8%) is more then 14 percentage points behind Tymoshenko, followed by Arseni Yanteniuk (4.7%), Petro Symonenko (3.8%) and Incumbent president Victor Yushchenko with just 3.5%.

The odds are in Yanukovych favour with Yulia Tymoshenko fighting on multiple fronts with Yushchenko actively campaign against her.

Yushchenko set to lose

17 candidates in total, four from his own political party, are running against Yushchenko who has the highest negative rating (83%) of all the candidates.

Viktor Yushchenko is desperate and is now trying to force Hrytsenko, Kostenko, Tyahnybok and Yatseniuk to pull out of the race and support his candidacy.

Combined with Yushchenko's vote they represent less then 12% in total.

Yushchenko claims he is in discussions with them yet they have denied they are in negotiations.

All 17 candidates have paid their 2.5 million nomination deposit.

They all stood in opposition to Yushchenko not support. Why should they pull out? Yatseniuk, Hrytsenko and Tyahnybok have a better chance of surviving the ballot if Yushchenko withdraw.

Two weeks out from the election is leaving it a bit late. The ballot papers have been printed and voters will not take kindly to last minute withdrawals.

preferential voting missed opportunity

Had Ukraine adopted a preferential voting system then there would be no need for such discussions.

Voters would have the right to nominate a second or third preference for a candidate of their choosing. There vote would not be wasted.

The election would be decided in a single round of voting saving Ukraine 100's of millions of dollars and candidates could if so desired advocate support for alternative candidates as a second choice should they not be elected.

Presidential election is a farce costing Ukraine dearly

At an estimated campaign cost of over one billion dollars one has to seriously question the value of the direct election of a head of state.

Ukraine would have been better off if its head of state was elected by a constitutional majority Ukraine's parliament as is the case with Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Moldova, Switzerland, Greece, Czech Republic and even the EU.

The Future bebate

With Yushchenko removed from office and the presidential election out of the way, there is an opportunity for constructive debate and consideration.

Hopefully whoever wins the presidential election, will continue to support constitutional reform and Ukraine becoming a true democratic state who will act in the best interest of Ukraine and not sercombe to the temptation of presidential power and abuse its authority.

Who ever wins the election will have the upper hand in any negotiations. with Yushchenko out of the equation it can only be positive and back on track.

UkrToday said...

Thank you,

I tend to agree with the content of the analysis.

The big unknown is what form of government will Ukraine pursue under either candidate.

Once in office will they be tempted to wield more power or will they allow the parliament to govern as should be the case.

Power is like a magnet and it can influence attack and repel.

Fresh parliamentary elections on May or Autumn could see Party of Regions secure a majority in their own right or fall short by 5 votes. In which case they will be able to form a coalition government of their choosing.

This could be with Yushchenko and his breakaway faction if they can muster enough support to cross the 3% barrier. A Coalition with Yushchenko will not be as advantageous as a coalition with Tymoshenko BUT can the two find common ground. All indications are that they can not. Mind your having Yushchenko on your side does not instill confidence either.

What is clear is that if Yanukovych wins then he will hold all the trump cards. if Tymoshenko can scape over the line the Ukraine will be treading a fine line which could fall either way.

Ukraine would be much better off it is did aways with the President altogether and elected its head of state by a constitutional vote of the Parliament as is the cae with Estonuia, Latvia, Hungary, Moldova, Greece, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and the EU.

Power should not be invested in the hands of one individual. Ukraine can go without a President but it can not survive without a parliament.