Archive for January 28th, 2012

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Ukraine’s next first lady of politics?

January 28, 2012

As is always the case in politics, the demise or difficult circumstances of a fellow politician, from your own party or another, presents itself as an opportunity for those of such a mindset.

Amongst Ms Tymoshenko’s party, prior to her incarceration, was a lady called Natalia Korolevska.  A stalwart Tymoshenko advocate as you would expect and seemingly loyal to the core.

However, since Ms Tymoshenko’s incarceration, Ms Korolevska has resigned from Ms Tymoshenko’s party and assumed the leadership of another opposition party called the Ukrainian Social Democrat Party (USDP).

Ms Tymoshenko and Ms Korolevska

That is not to say she has turned her back on Tymoshenko’s party entirely, the USDP will unite in opposition with them and put forward candidates for the next parliamentary election on a single united opposition ballet.  To be quite frank, the USDP has no real alternative as otherwise its current parliamentarians would probably fall foul of the new 5% voting threshold that easily passed through parliament with joint support from the ruling PoR and Ms Tymoshenko’s party.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, not all opposition parties have agreed or signed up to a single list of candidates for the opposition ballet at the next elections.  A united opposition still seems a long way off although things may change.

Also somewhat interestingly, Ms Korolevska has not been ostracized by her old party or disciplined at a time when they probably needed a female parliamentary face fighting for Ms Tymoshenko under her party banner more than any other.

Maybe an issue to be revisited in the future with political blow-back pending for now?

Anyway, Ms Korolevska has actually managed to say something quite bright recently.  To you and I it is of course obvious for any electoral campaign, but this is Ukraine where policies, platforms and manifestos barely register in what is a essentially a personality contest whether the election is party or individually based.  Essentially the amount of MPs any party gets in parliament has very little to do with their policies but the popularity of their leader, in effect no different from presidential elections which are no more than personality contests here.

Ms Korolevska has come up with the idea of a Ukrainian development plan, in simple terms for Ukrainians to understand (slightly condescending as she is no luminary herself) and have all the opposition parties who signed up to the single opposition candidate list (so not all opposition parties) agree it and sign it off.

Well bravo!  Regardless of whether such a plan ever actually occurs, regardless of whether the opposition actually win enough votes to become the majority and be able to implement such a plan, and regardless of whether they would be the first government to actually deliver a plan rather than just talking about one or holding up a single piece of an otherwise unknown puzzle to the masses every now and again, she actually thinks there should be a plan and that it should be shared with the Ukrainian public in full!

Of course the downside to that, is the Ukrainian public would know the plan and be able to hold the political elite to account should it fail to deliver on it.  Maybe that is far too radical and transparent for the rest of her colleagues in the opposition parties that have signed up to cooperate together at the parliamentary elections.

So how is Ms Korolevska going to raise her domestic and international profile?  Well she is currently at Davos where undoubtedly everyone is asking who she is, at least for now.  What seems quite obvious though is that Ms Korolevska sees a political opportunity somewhat at the expense of her old boss, Ms Tymoshenko, whilst retaining (publicly at least) good relations with her old party.  She has become an opposition party leader, she is currently hobnobbing at Davos and has been doing the rounds in Brussels.  On a purely aesthetic platform she looks very good on the television.

The longer Ms Tymoshenko remains incarcerated, the more Ms Korolevska will become the very attractive female face of Ukrainian politics.  Is this a case of the Queen is dead, long live the Queen, or a beginning to a quiet coup?

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