Saturday, January 14, 2006

Yanukovych leads

Some new polling figures are out and they show that Yuschenko did not benefit from the gas crisis with Russia at all. The figures are roughly

Yanukovych’s bloc –31%
Tymoshenko’s bloc—16%
Yuschenko’s bloc—13%

Yuschenko’s Our Ukraine is where it had been before the gas crisis. Tymoshenko has climbed up to pass him, them. Yanukovych, you might say, has surged. He has lapped Our Ukraine.

Yanukovych was smiling last night on TV. Looks like he has a lot to smile about. In an interview broadcast last night, he said that Akhmetov would make a good president. A good president for whom? Maybe he’ll appoint him if he becomes PM? Akhmetov, the über-oligarch from the east, is the real power behind Yanukovych and his Party of the Regions. It’s his money bankrolling it.

I made the argument a few weeks back to some friends that Yanukovych as PM would not be the threat he was because things have changed so much in Ukraine. I have my doubts about that now. Maybe because I am not so confident anymore things have really changed all that much. All it would take is for Yanukovych to fire everybody put in by Yuschenko’s government, bring back the cronies and you’ve got what you had before. The press is not so docile now, of course, but they also haven’t been leaned on in the past year. What would happen if they were? Would they cave? Say that inquiries are being made into the licenses of a number of stations—have you really been operating in the public interest?—send the tax police to the rest and they all might think again about their newfound liberty.

Would people put up with it? Some wouldn’t, but if the PM looked like he were doing things and especially if he stepped in to reduce prices, that would keep most people mollified and justify their vote for him. He might not have the cooperation of Moscow like he did last time to keep the whole economic Potemkin village standing, but he might point to the Yuschenko crew as the reason behind all the economic problems. Then again, he might just have the cooperation of the Kremlin. They seem to like Lukashenko in Belarus. But they ought to know that Russian business will not fare well in the crony capitalist climate that will come with Yanukovych. He might favor relations with Russia but not if it gets in the way of sweet deals to the faithful.

The point is a Yanukovych PMship could bring back the dark age. And it would eventually bring with it more economic problems. You cannot prop up economies with state control as has been the case in the past. It will not work. Tymoshenko’s stint should have shown that.

And it will bring back more oligarchic control over business and the economy, except there will be limited numbers of oligarchs involved this time—unless, of course, others are made from the new dole. Does anyone really believe that the great chasm between the rich and everyone else here is going to be bridged by Yanukovych? If we have a more affordable chicken in the pot, it doesn’t matter? That is understandable, but it isn’t wise. What will the country look like in the next few years as a result of the decisions made today? Ukrainians thought about big issues during the Orange Revolution. These issues are still there and need the people to be engaged with them. Democracy does not go by default. And it is not the default setting of government. It takes a vigilance to maintain it especially in this area of the world.

People ought to be listening and they ought to be remembering. Unfortunately, I think people have become so disenchanted with Yuschenko that they aren’t. It may all come down to pocketbook issues. Yuschenko and his government missed opportunities to have a positive effect there. The biggest problem though, I think, is that Yuschenko has not communicated with the people as he ought to have. I think they would have put up with a lot if he had told them how what they were experiencing would redound to their benefit eventually. And, if he made mistakes, he should have talked to them about that too. He tried in the OR celebration, but he got the script reversed and talked about the good he had done before he talked with them about the problems. They tuned out during the first part. It didn’t correspond to their experience. And by then it was a little late anyway.

It could be that they are remembering. He is down quite a bit from the 47% he had in the last election. Maybe that means the people are engaged and know. The problem is that he could have the most seats in the Rada even so. And that could mean being PM. It looks like déjà vu all over again. Make anybody else feel sick?

I, for the life of me, though, do not understand why no one is taking Yanukovych on. He is a man with the same defects he had before. Add to that the whole election theft and you’ve got someone who should be unelectable. But no one is taking him on.  How about now?


Anonymous said...

I do not think it is too early for predictions and speculations. Here is my forecast.
"Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory." (Victory referring to OR.)
Ukraine will be stuck in the mud, post March elections. Between Yanukovych and Tymoshenko they easily win majority in Rada. As a "weakened" (politically post Jan. 1) President, the PM and cabinet will be Yanukovych's people. Optimistically, things stay the same. Realistically, they will backslide (orders will resurface regarding for the press) and worsen (more corruption, more economic flight, etc.). And Ukraine will remain a "managed democracy" with the CES resurfacing.

And it ticks me off, no end!!!

DLW said...

Maybe part of Yusch's deal with Russia will be that Russia will take on Yanu?

Who better to undermine Yanu's support in Eastern Ukraine than the Russians?

It seems plausible, particularly given what an unsavory character and uncompelling public leader he seems to be and Russia's increasing concern for it's public image with Europe.