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An ideology based political party? Ukraine

June 27, 2016

Innumerable are the entries over the many years the blog has been running that lament the lack of political ideology within Ukrainian political parties.

Plentiful are the entries stating that Ukrainian political parties (with a few exceptions within the far right and far left of the spectrum) that bemoan the fact that political parties have always been founded and used as a vehicle solely for its leader – and thus party policy being little more than the whim of that leader on any particular day.

Abundant are the historical entries that decry the fact that all leaders are bigger than their political party, rather than the party being bigger than the leader – and thus no party has ever controlled the fecklessness and irresponsible statements and actions of its leader.

Whatever hope there was for Samopomich as an oligarch-less party with an understanding of public responsibility and accountability, ideologically driven and with a holistic view of national politics have been more than somewhat tempered by an increasingly obvious move toward populism and also a belligerence that when now in opposition, it simply opposes – rather than supporting reasonable and/or occasional (if ever rare) good policy and legislation when it appears whilst rightly robustly and noisily opposing poor policy and legislation when it all too frequently is produced.

It is thus necessary to seek out the next attempt at a values and ideology based political entity – for they remain extremely scare.

29th June will see a gathering in Kyiv behind closed doors of many well known reform orientated politicians and civil society members.  Of those reformist public figures, Sergei Leshchenko, Mustafa Nayem, Svitlana Zalishchuk, Victoria Ptashnik, Deputy Economy Minister Maxim Nefodov, Deputy Minister of Ecology Svetlana Kolomiets, a former Deputy Minister of Education Oleg Derevyanko, the participants of the Civil Platform Valerii Pekar, Andrei Dligach and Taras Kozak, as well as Basil Gatsko and Maxim Cherkasenko are expected to attend.  Indeed a total of about 100 public reformist figures are expected to participate.

Prima facie it seems a very unlikely group for Governor Saakashvili (and his team) to lead in any political party machine going forward, for it is a group far more inclined to work by “committee” and horizontally – thus it would seem very likely that as/when/if Governor Saakashvili launches his election based political career upon the Ukrainian national stage within a national party (which will operate upon a vertical)  it will not be, indeed could not be, part of this group.

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To be blunt, the reformist church in Ukraine is not a church without schism among both High Chamberlains and/or within the reformist congregation.  The individual egos, (and potential clashes thereof) of reformist preachers aside, there will still be significant differences between left and right leaning members of the reformist congregation.  It would be extremely naive to think otherwise.  Care should be taken to recognise the nuances.

The outcome of the Kyiv conclave of 29th July when looking at the attendees, (whether there be an immediate formal announcement or a continuance of political and organisational powder being kept dry), seems likely to be an ideologically and values based political party with known and committed “ins” and “outs” ready to be launched at any moment deemed most politically expedient.

With Governor Saakashvili likely to lead (sooner or later) an ideologically “reformist centre right” political party that seems certain to gain at least 10% of the national vote, will this group become an ideologically “reformist centre left”?  It is a group that is also likely to garner at least 10% of the national vote too.

Should a clearly reform orientated Samopomich tone down its populist nonsense and become a responsible opposition voting both for and against policy more wisely, there is perhaps some sign of a possibly significant reformist, ideologically “centre” coalition emerging that has far less malignant oligarchical influence than at any other time in the history of an independent Ukraine.  The question then facing centre left and centre right is their ability to deal with the schims within.

The tone and timing of statements following this conclave of reformers on 29th June will be something to keep a watchful eye upon over the summer months.

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