Archive for June 16th, 2013

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Identity and ideology politics – Ukrainian Opposition

June 16, 2013

And so it has come to pass, as written a few days ago, that the “Grand Unification Congress” amongst the Ukrainian opposition has seen Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna Party assimilate Arseney Yatseniuk’s Front for Change Party and the Reform and Order Party of Serhiy Sobolev – Yatseniuk and Sobolev both unsurprisingly managing to find high ranking positions within Batkivshchyna – such is the necessary outcome of fractional power play with such individual ambition masked behind the party banners they fly – or rather flew with effect from today.

However the “United Opposition” remains fractional – and not without substantial internal friction – as 4 other parties that make up the United Opposition alliance were not assimilated.

That notwithstanding the obvious friction between the “United Opposition” parties, and those of Klitschko’s UDAR Party and Svoboda – which makes the congress meeting call by Yuri Lutsenko’s for Batkivshchyna to now take the lead amongst the opposition ranks about as likely as it was last week.

Yatseniuk now officially sits at the summit of Batkivshchyna – behind only Tymoshenko – and given his failure to instill discipline amongst its ranks for more than a year, to the point he cannot even get Batkivshchyna MPs to turn up to vote for Batkivshchyna bills in parliament, is that likely to change?

I strongly suspect not when statements like this appear on Facebook from Front for Change Party members who today swapped their ID cards for Batkivshchyna Party cards:

FFC ID Card

“Скажу відверто, не думав, що партійне посвідчення матиме термін дії”

To save you the trouble of translating, Yaroslav Demchenkov, obviously a Front for Change Party member from its creation with card number 4 issued in 2009, states “Frankly I did not think the party had a valid ID”.

What does that say about Yatseniuk, his leadership, ideology or ideology development within a party then deliberately formed by Yatseniuk to avoid being tarred with the Batkivshchyna Party brush – The very party of which he is now technically Second in Command – and de facto in command whilst Tymoshenko sits in jail?

You also have to ask questions about Demchenkov’s motivation not only to join and remain in a political party he felt had no political identity for 5 years until assimilation, but what his political ideology and motivation actually is if he feels relief at re-branding to Batkivshchyna – a party with a single identity that is nothing more than a vehicle for Yulia Tymoshenko.  It has been ideology-less politically, with party stance and policy contingent on Tymoshenko and how she felt on any particular day when she got out of bed – rather than identifiable left of centre, centre, or right of centre politics.

Will Batkivshchyna change for the better as a result of this “Grand Unification”? – No.

Will a miracle happen and Yatseniuk now become a leader capable of leading? – Of course not!

Glib references to democracy simply don’t cut it whether they be from Tymoshenko or Yatseniuk – (or Yanukovych) – as none have a politically identifiable anchored ideological position on the left to right spectrum.  Glib references to opportunism and populism would fit all three given their view of zero sum, winner takes all politics – which is hardly the inclusive and tolerant stance required for democracy.

Without the ideological anchors, how can anyone know in what areas a more inclusive and tolerant stance would be adopted by any parliamentary majority?  Ideology matters as it sets the parameters of just how far any party is prepared to drift from its position to reach compromise in a functioning democratic parliament in order to reach an inclusive consensus.

Tigipko has been sent into the bowels of Party Regions with a brief to create a party ideology – a thankless task amongst such a feckless party membership – but at least somebody within Party Regions has decided that some form of identifiable ideology matters and sent Tigipko to ferret about and find one – albeit such a search is undoubtedly a way to get Tigipko off the Party Regions top table where he made some people uncomfortable.

To be fair to both Svoboda and the Communist Party – whether they actually hold true to their ideology or not – it is at least identifiable.  Far right and far left respectively.

But how, in 5 years, did Front for Change fail to form a political identity as stated by Demchenkov?

The answer is found in the same dark, dank and septic corner where the missing ideology of Batkivshchyna can be found.

Both parties are not about democracy or ideology – both were created as political vehicles for their leaders in pursuit of the personalisation of power – and nothing more.  The only ideology required for that is the winner takes all, zero sum kind.

Strip away the veneer and rhetoric from the “Grand Unification Congress” and the shape and prospects of democracy in Ukraine has not changed – the outlook remains grim regardless of who is in power.

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