Monday, January 09, 2012

Gloomy assessment for 2012

In their last issue of 2011 'Dzerkalo Tyzhnya' asked 20 emminent Ukrainian journalists, political technologists, sociologists, writers, civic leaders etc. whether a change in government is possible in 2012.

Readers of the internet version could register whether they agree or disagree with any of the opinions expressed by any of the commenters.

In general the tone of the article is gloomy - the country seems to be in a state of deep malaise. Reader's assessments underscore this.

Here are a few [edited] comments:

Vitaliy Portnikov -TV journalist:
For me it is clear that post-Soviet system of governance and social division has exhausted itself - and not only in Ukraine. A [period of] global redistribution of power and a changes of elite approaching throughout the former Soviet Union. I would not like to be a prophet and say for certain that this redistribution will take place in Ukraine in 2012, but it is inevitable. And this will certainly not be just a banal regime change - the depths of the shocks experienced could easily be comparable to those of the early 90's.
2842 Agree, 149 Disagree

But journalist Mustafa Nayem considers any change is not possible at the the moment. Those who could potentially take over power are not capable of explaining why those currently in power are worse that they are. Agree 1827, Disagree 254

Nayem's TV colleague Mykola Knyazytskyi, considers a change is possible. If the country's basic democratic principles are neglected and there are no resources to fulfill the social needs of its citizens, mass protests may start any minute, and no one can predict when they could start. The Ukrainian political system was reformed by Viktor Yanukovych himself so he has taken the entire responsibility for what happens in the country onto himself. Sociological reports indicate that neither he nor his party command a majority of the electorate. Quite simply he is not liked as a leader. Dictators can retain power either by bayonets, or by the love of the people...And if there is no love, then Facebook and Twitter - are much more powerful weapons than bayonets. And an unloved and disarmed politician cannot retain power [for long periods]. Agree 2269, Disagree 84

And this, probably more sober analysis, from the writer Andriy Kurkov:
..Today, no real political rivals [ready to challenge] the party [of Regions] exist. If the nearest party to them [Tymoshenko's] "Batkivschyna", gain a majority in parliamentary elections, an interesting situation may arise when a lot of the MP's who deserted earlier to "Regiony"return. Then, together they could change the party leadership, and if necessary declare "Batkivshchyna" the reformed PoR. I, like many citizens do not see any ideological difference between these parties.

PoR has become knows as a "rough bulldozer" which clears all the best locations for construction sites for its close circle. However, it is difficult to believe that with the coming of the new political force anything would change suddenly. Ukraine remains a desert, not only in an economical but also in a political sense. There is an attitude of protest amonst the people - they are ready to vote "against". But they are more "against' that which exists than "for" what is to come. There is a catastrophic lack of ideological competition in the country...The ideology of the main parties is just money and desire to remain in power as long as possible, which means control of state and budgetary finances and control of the security forces and justice. With these you can continue to legalize the duration of the period in power.

But nothing eternal exists, and new names will be added to the list of parties of power. If these new parties are not created by politicians from other camp, they will be created by the Party of Regions itself in order to ensure a "peaceful transfer of power" to a younger generation, i.e. their children in the literal as well as figurative sense.

Ukrainians will have to wait a long time for a George Washington. Particularly as the Ukrainian political scene has been infected with another dangerous virus - a virus of corporate retaliation, which is the main reason, for example, for the imprisonment of Yuri Lutsenko. Agree 945, Disagree 238

p.s. The successful, award-winning Danish political television drama 'Borgen' has just started a run on British TV. The central character is Birgitte Nyborg, leader of the Moderate party, who comes from behind in parliamentary elections as the result of a scandal involving the incumbent prime minister. In the first episode he used a government credit card to pay for some accessories and clothes at Burberry's for his wife on a trip to London. The sum involved was 70,000 Danish Krone [about 7,000 Euro] . This was enough to bring him down.

Nyborg herself cycles to work. She puts on weight during the election campaign and some of her clothes don't fit well. On the night of the election she returns home in a taxi...
Ukrainians would consider such a plot prepostrous.


55North said...

And she doesn't have any servants, her husband taking the upper hand in looking after the children.

Anonymous said...

For me it is clear that post-Soviet system of governance and social division has exhausted itself - and not only in Ukraine

A good report and fair analysis.

Ukraine was on the right track be it slowed down to a grinding halt by the conductor, Yushchenko only later to back up in reverse and tale a wrong turn down the wrong track heading in the wrong direction.

The constitutional changes that were enacting in 2004 were a major step forward. Remove presidential power, and invest more control in the Parliament and reform it.

Problem is the opposition have no policy for any change they are remaining passengers trapped in a state of dominance by the presidential authorities. They have abandoned the principles that would have seen Ukraine become a true democracy. Like rabbits at night in a hunters spot light they just stop and stare waiting the sting of to hunters bullet.

With all the excitments of the football fair, major economic crirs on their doorstep and persecution of anyone who challenges the ruling elite it is hard to see what of any change will occur.

Minor parties will denied representation. Our Ukraine will cease to be. No longer able to impose a policy of division. Lytvyn block will have to decide whose side it is on as they will not survive on their own. The government will be consolidate its position given an advantage by election rules that the opposition allowed. Better the devil you know then the instability of of more division.

Ukraine has been denied the chance and rights to become a free independent state

Like slaves in a galley as long as it remains shackled to the soviet/US presidential system it will never be free independent or democratic.

Other former soviet states such as Estonia and Latvia abandoned the repressive soviet presidential system and embraced a modern European parliamentary governance. Ukraine had less than one year of democracy (between 2006 and 2007) before it was sailed into the rocks.

Now it is heading back to the abyss, chained to the orrs and told to row, row as hard as they can back to avoid the pending storm. Problem is they are sailing into deeper water where the storm will hit hardest with no sign of any change in the weather let alone direction.

There is no point in another revolution unless there is a clear policy of change. Change that will remove presidential authority and embrace democratic governance.

Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them.

I would not hold my breath that the 2012 elections will deliver a change of government. As long as absolute power remains with the President and the opposition undecided there will be no peace.

Like Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine will have to continue to endure persecution, imprisonment and presidential autocratic rule.

UkrToday said...

If the opposition wins the October Parliamentary (Unlikely given that the new electoral system is already working against them) then what?

The orange revolution achieved one major change and shift towards becoming a true democratic state. And that was the Constitutional amendments. Amendments that were in the right direction but did not go far enough.

Yanukovych has removed those democratic changes and is heading in the wrong direction in the endless "tug of war' of power, dragging the opposition with them.

The power struggle continues.

The President holds all the trump cards. The opposition has no policies for constitutional change and the games of division continue.

The only change is the faces in the revolving door that take turns in endless rotation.

Until Ukraine changes the system of governance and adopts a democratic Parliamentary representative system it will continue to be trapped in the abyss of time.

Democratic resolution denied.

Anonymous said...

If Yushchenko had not betrayed Ukraine and opposed Ukraine becoming a true democracy, Ukraine would not be in the position it is in today.

If the opposition can win the parliament they will still not be control. They will still be divided without direction or solutions.

The momentum of the revolving door will continue to spin like a ship without a rudder or an engine caught in a whirlpool and a storm as it is thrown onto the rocks.

If Ukraine wants to be a free independent democratic state it needs to adopt European values and European models of governance. It needs to follow in the foot steps of Estonia and Latvia and adopt a full Parliamentary system of government. Failing that there will be no change of fate or fortune.

Until then 2012-14 offers Ukraine little comfort or hope.