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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

“Quantum leap” in society

Svitlana MASHAROVSKA: “The ongoing early elections signal Ukraine’s transition from the Yanukovych era to a modern state”
13 May, 2014 - 11:19
Sketch by Anatolii KAZANSKY from The Day’s archives, 1996

How can the situation in western and southern Ukraine be stabilized? This is by far the most crucial question in this country today. The early presidential elections on May 25 are an antivirus against Russian plans about our state. The list of candidates may be causing some doubt (it is a matter of special discussion), but if we want a full-fledged government, we need a legitimate president. This is a goal on which both the authorities and society must concentrate their efforts.

Judging by the Kremlin’s rhetoric, the Russian government does not in fact recognize the elections in Ukraine a priori and is doing its best to thwart them. Moscow needs chaos and uncertainty here. Conversely, the West almost daily insists that the elections be held and calls on Russia to stop destabilizing the situation in Ukraine. US Secretary of State John Kerry has already said that the US and the EU will impose additional sanctions on Russia if Moscow tries to wreck the Ukraine elections.

Of no lesser importance are the early parliamentary elections. It is the next, more remote, step to improve the quality of the political class. It is the change of the system that the Maidan fought for. We need a different kind of politicians – professional and young. To this end, we must open the locks and flush out corruption from politics. What the Russian government, which stands in the way of our development, fears most of all is this purification, the regaining of our roots, and the fight for our country.

The dangers and prospects of the Ukrainian elections is the central point of an interview with political scientist Svitlana MASHAROVSKA.

Svitlana, taking into account the current situation in Ukraine, what are the factors that pose a threat to the early presidential elections?

“Russia is doing its utmost to prevent the Ukraine presidential elections from being recognized as legitimate because the election of a new president will reduce to nothing the rhetoric about a ‘junta’ and a coup d’etat. Obviously, the new president will have a strong negotiating position about Russia’s actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. And, on the contrary, should the elections fail to be held, one way or another, we will enter a zone of turbulence and economic collapse. At least two regions will be running a fever due to Russian special services’ actions.

“Besides, international institutions wish to issue loans during at least a relative stability.”

Who is interested in thwarting the elections, particularly, among Ukrainian politicians? Maybe, not only Moscow wants to see the situation in this country’s east and south destabilized?

“It is an open secret that Yulia Tymoshenko viewed these presidential elections as revenge for the years in prison. As her rating is not so high, some observers presume that she may want to see these elections thwarted. Only Tymoshenko herself can confirm or deny this presumption with her actions or inaction.”

What do you think in general about the “candidate menu,” taking into account the Maidan events and the needs of society?

“The list of presidential candidates is apparently not final for certain reasons. In spite of Petro Poroshenko’s leading positions, many will again view this as zero choice or choice of the lesser evil.

“Societal requirement for a new quality and new political practices still remains an abstraction. Besides, eastern Ukraine is still smarting after a complete fiasco of Party of Regions politicians. This electoral niche will only be filled at a later stage. The rather high ratings of Poroshenko can be put down to the Ukrainians’ aspiration for peaceful and constructive development. Everybody is tired of negative trends, aggression, and fighting.”

Knowing the candidates’ ratings, do you think there will be one or two rounds? Who stands the best chance for victory?

“Judging by the latest ratings, Poroshenko is quite likely to win in the first round.”

Also of importance are the early parliamentary elections. What do you think is their likelihood? When?

“The parliamentary elections will be held in the fall provided no martial law has been imposed.”

Which political parties in Ukraine are interested in the early parliamentary elections and which are not?

“It is the new president who will be interested in the parliamentary elections because he or she will try to convert the support he gained into a powerful faction. The uninterested one is the Party of Regions which will suffer losses not only due to a dropped rating, but also because their former first-past-the-post and self-nominated MPs will be unable to win again. It is also an open question whether Svoboda will get into parliament. The autumnal parliamentary elections will be also difficult for the qualitatively new parties which will not have enough time to prepare.”

To what extent may the Verkhovna Rada’s composition change if the elections are held? How? Do the new forces, especially the ones that crystallized after the Maidan, stand a chance?

“After the Maidan events and the flight of Yanukovych, society has made a quantum leap of sorts in its development. Therefore, if the new post-revolutionary parties manage to prove their ability to organize, they will have a chance to enter parliament even in spite of a limited time. I think the next parliament, no matter when it is elected, will spring some surprises on us.”

If the early presidential and parliamentary elections are held successfully, will this be an instrument for purging the political class?

“The ongoing early elections signal Ukraine’s transition from the Yanukovych era to a modern state. So I would not pin unrealistic hopes on just one election cycle to carry out a sweeping purge.”

Do you think a third Maidan stage is possible?

“A new Maidan is very unlikely today. Society is tired and will be seeking a way to put its will across to politicians through the elections. Further on, everything will depend on whether they will hear the people.”

By Ivan KAPSAMUN, The Day