There's an interesting piece of speculative commentary entitled 'The matter of Ukraine's Democracy', by Stanislav Byelkovsky, on Ukraine's upcoming presidential election in today's 'UP'
The main points are as follows:
Both Viktor Yanukovych's and Yulia Tymoshenko's attitude to democracy and civil liberties are the same: "Democracy and freedom are good when we are in opposition, but bad when we in power".
However it cannot be said that the consequences for Ukraine will be the same whichever of these two candidates becomes president.
In case of a Tymoshenko victory Byelkovsky proposes the following scenario:
Party of Regions falls apart or ceases to exist in its current form. As a 'quasi-political' structure created by a few big business groups it needs to be in power or have a good chance of acceeding to power quickly. Long spells in opposition are of no concern to them.
Yanukovych's possible successor as the political leader of the South and East parts of the country will not be fundamentally hostile to the Ukrainian authorities. Instead, he will try to find a compromise with Tymoshenko and lead a constructive opposition, possibly in the current Russian manner.
The ruling parliamentary coalition will grow due to the influx of defectors and will be stable. Any new Prime Minister will be totally loyal to Tymoshenko i.e. Tymoshenko will be at the same time a de facto president and head of government. The threat to democracy and freedom are obvious.
In the case of a Yanukovych victory Byelkovych predicts:
Yulia Tymoshenko will not disappear from the political scene. She is a true charismatic leader that can survive regardless of external circumstances.
Yanukovych's success especially, against the background of Yushchenko's departure, will lead to consolidation of lesser political groups around PM Tymoshenko. In the event of a Yanukovych victory the current parliamentary coalition is unlikely to collapse, on the contrary, it may rally. Obviously Tymoshenko will be against any strengthening of constitutional presidential powers. It will be difficult for Yanukovych to call for early parliamentary elections in such circumstances.
As a result President Yanukovych will have limited powers but will act as strong counterweight to the government and their parliamentary majority. In such a scenario democracy and freedom of speech will be preserved.
[Some BYuT , NUNS and Lytvyn bloc deputies might not 'run to matron' but could be enticed to defect to a re-energized PoR VR fraction. However most if not all of the 72 NUNS deputies would not get back into parliament in any fresh elections..same goes for BL..a powerful disincentive.. LEvko]
Byelkovsy concludes that, ironically, five years after the Orange Revolution, the interests of Ukrainian democracy may be best served by a Yanukovych victory.
He also downplays the chances of Ukraine being drawn into some kind of Russian Eurasian project 'that does not exist'. Ukraine, unlike Russia, does not need a tsar to legitimize the kleptocracy of the type that also exists in many third world countries having an abundance of mineral wealth to be plundered. In Ukraine there are no large stocks of such materials to provide an economic base. Under either future president, Ukraine's movement toward EU and NATO will continue.
p.s. FT is going with Yanik too but pities Ukraine that it has come to this..
The FT editorial should had mentioned economic policy in Ukraine is in the hands of the PM and her cabinet, not in the hands of the president.