Archive for June 4th, 2013

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GOPAC Ukraine

June 4, 2013

Heavens – Here is Lesya Orobets MP, going slightly overboard when stating the effect on corruption a new Ukrainian branch of “Global Organisation of Parliamentarians Against Corruption – GOPAC” will bring.  Welcome as it undoubtedly is – it is no panacea when it comes to Ukrainian corruption.  If it were, then it would have cured corruption in all the other nations in which it is already active – but it hasn’t.

Quite simply corruption cannot be eradicated in Ukraine – or anywhere else – but it can be made far more difficult to accomplish and thus controlled by creating coalitions for reform from below and within civil society, from within the political elite themselves, from above via government leadership and from without via the international community.

To raise expectations that GOPAC will have a significant impact upon Ukrainian corruption is to raise them far beyond the limits GOPAC has proven to have.

The facts are simple.  Independent Ukraine has been thoroughly corrupt within the political elite, business elite and state institutional hierarchy since the USSR collapsed.

The unfortunate, then President Kravchuk in 1991, was rather rudely thrown the very difficult problems of transitions to democracy, retaining the rule of law,  initiating horizontal accountability and all the other things that took many European nations hundreds of years, occasional civil wars and several attempts at democracy to successfully achieve – and events overtook Kravchuk’s ability to do much about any of them.

Thus events solidified corrupt relationships during the Kuchma years of dominant party politics, and continued unashamedly under the feckless politics Yushenko/Tymoshenko and on-going Yanukovych years.

It really doesn’t matter whether we identify the obvious cronyism that has miraculously turned the current president’s eldest son into the richest dentist on the planet, whether we identify the corrupt relationship between Lazarenko and Tymoshenko earning her the title “gas princess”, or a UDAR party list full of long-in-the tooth MPs such as Edward “six zeros” Gurvitz, once mayor of Odessa.  Not withstanding the current grubby little deals on-going between the opposition parties as to who gets to access what trough if they manage to regain power – Corruption is pervasive and endemic amongst the entire Ukrainian political class, respecting no party lines.

Ever since Ukrainian independence arrived, it has been, and remains, a predatory state run by a feckless political class.

When Putman described the predatory state in “Making Democracies Work” he stated “Corruption is widely regarded as the norm, political participation is mobilised from above, civic engagement is meager, compromise is scarce, and nearly everyone feels powerless, exploited or unhappy.”

I’m not sure his description missed anything in respect of Ukraine 1991 – 2013 (and counting).

When looking at some of the key features of a predatory state,  such as the government generating private goods for rulers, families, cronies, ruling party, security apparatus through a vertical patron-client relationship – and not public goods for development – low trust in public institutions, opportunistic and cynical decisions made against short-term horizons, a weak civil society undermined further by a lack of trust and ties amongst its horizontal counterparts – it is hard to argue Ukraine has ever been anything other than predatory during its recent history.

So just how much effect on that can GOPAC have?  Despite Ms Orobets overtures, quite obviously it will have limited impact, at most adding a strong player to civil society that has a political reach further than most.  A small bonus for those trying to enforce some vertical accountability, and a little additional weight to external accountability.

GOPAC will do nothing to address the two core issues that would have a tremendous effect upon corruption.  The first being the political will of the political elites themselves to actually deal with the issue effectively – thus asking turkey’s to vote for Christmas – and secondly in the absence of that political will,  it cannot create institutionalised (both overlapping/reciprocal oversight or independent ) horizontal state agencies to hold the vertical to account.

Until that happens, the only accountability available relating to the vertical is the chance of changing one corrupt leadership and political party for another every few years via the ballot box.

In short Ms Orobets, look not externally for the solutions to the problem, look to yourself and your colleges internally, as whilst external crutches maybe welcome, the fixing of the Ukrainian problem can only be done from within.

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