There is much to be said for symbolism.
It can be inspiring, it can be unifying, it can be a moment of hope or defiance that ignites the courage of others – in short, it can have impact.
It can also be completely empty of meaning, condescending, devoid of rationale and ultimately, pointless in the extreme.
And so, 18th May brought to an end the 2 month “Rise Ukraine” strategy of the United Opposition – Batkivshchyna, UDAR and Svoboda parties – in Kyiv.
After countless rallies in numerous (opposition friendly) cities drawing crowds of a few thousand people each time – worryingly low numbers if you are an opposition party leader to be blunt – the finale in Kyiv attracted a only few thousands people once again.
I would have expected for 10,000 – 15,000 after months of rallies leading up to a well publicised finale – and even that number would be disappointing.
All the issues I raised in the above link back in March have proven to come to fruition – not that it would take anybody with a modicum of common sense and even the most basic understanding of Ukrainian politics and society any effort to come to that same conclusion.
When adding all the reported attendance numbers from all the rallies over the past 2 months, it doesn’t even get close to the gate numbers of Manchester United playing an average team on a very wet and cold Tuesday night at Old Trafford.
To be quite honest I still have no idea why the opposition embarked on such a strategy that was so clearly doomed to failure. I still cannot deduce why I was asked to “rise” over the past 2 months just to now sit back down again – possibly until October 2015 when the next presidential elections are due.
There has certainly been no impact or identifiable causal effect from the “Rise Ukraine” campaign, other than to identify just how few people the opposition parties have managed to turn out during this time.
Anyway, back to today’s “Rise Ukraine” (anti)climax of the 2 month campaign, which saw the opposition party leaders sign a joint agreement in front of a pitiful crowd of about 4,ooo people relating to the presidential elections in 2015.
This agreement states that all opposition parties will support any opposition candidate that makes it to the second round of voting in the presidential elections.
That is a significant change in rhetoric from the past few months where is has been consistently claimed that a single nominee from the United Opposition would run.
Now it seems rather than a single opposition candidate to run against the current incumbent from the very beginning of any presidential election campaign (in the first round), the opposition leaders have failed (unsurprisingly) to agree on one of them running for the top job with the unified support of the others from the off.
Thus the plan after the least popular two have been eliminated in the first round of voting, leaving one to go head to head with Yanukovych, is to then unite behind their last man standing for the second round of voting. A cozy little agreement granted – but will the opposition voters turn out in sufficient number in the second round to vote for a candidate that is not the man they voted for, not from a party they voted for, and does not share the same ideology as the man and party they voted for in the first round only a few weeks previously?
As Klitschko never seems to tire of saying, there are ideological differences between himself, Yatseniuk and Tyahnybok, and the parties they lead. That is also true of their supporters differing ideologies.
Time will tell if opposition unification around a single presidential candidate after the first round of voting, rather than prior to any voting, will prove to be a sound strategy – I have serious doubts that it is a good strategy, although I also have serious doubts (at the time of writing), that Yatseniuk, Klitschko or Tyahnybok will beat Yanukovych anyway (even with full transparency and on a level playing field – which they may not get).
And so to the impact and underlying realities of the symbolic signing of the joint statement of opposition leaders, pledging to support each – other only when they themselves have been eliminated from the presidential race.
The underlying and sad reality is, there is little genuine unity amongst the opposition. The impact of this agreement is almost zero, given that when all is said and done, ultimately, the public will be faced with the choice between Yanukovych or another in the second round of voting – opposition agreement or not.
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On a completely different subject, there will probably be nothing from me tomorrow as I am doing something for the BBC – and their filming may take some time as I am not a great fan of being on camera, so single takes are very unlikely. Thus I doubt I will have the time or interest to blog after being “Beeb’d” all day.