A subtle (or not) reframing – Groisman

July 13, 2016

With much in political (and policy) life, he who frames matters first – and robustly – often manages to win the day both politically among peers, and within the court of public opinion.

The 17th July sees 7 parliamentary seats, currently vacant due the assumption of other roles by their last incumbents – or in one case death – of which Solidarity (Poroshenko/Groisman) are defending 5 seats.  The outcome matters (together with the seat being defended by Will of the People, currently voting in line with the government when it truly matters) due to the slim coalition majority within the Verkhovna Rada.

The 22 July then sees the parliamentarians of the Verkhovna Rada wander off of holiday.  As such the ever-present chatter regarding early Verkhovna Rada elections will dissipate – at least until the parliamentarians reconvene, when it can be anticipated that such chatter becomes something of a rude cacophony.

Populist nonsense and policy-less constituency whoring in an effort to gather public opinion around new elections will probably take precedents over the matter of governing the nation and legislating for sensible reform progress.


Whilst far too late to influence the 17th July elections, a recent trend in public statements from Prime Minister Groisman has become apparent.  Those statements are clearly linking populist politics (and by default politicians) to corruption – particularly energy shenanigans.

The unambiguous inference being populist politics (and politicians) equate to the defence of, and continence of, corruption.

His notable “reframing” of the corruption issue around populist politics is clearly underway – beginning a few weeks ago, and likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

It is not exactly difficult to put corruption meat upon the populist political bones in order to make his case if the populists force the issue.  Names of populist politicians and links to corruption require little effort.  As stated in the opening paragraph – “With much in political (and policy) life, he who frames matters first – and robustly – often manages to win the day both politically and within the court of public opinion.”

Clearly not all corruption is linked to populist politicians – or those behind them.  Not all Ukrainian corruption has any political link – some is institution specific.  In other areas it is industry specific.

What is interesting regarding this reframing is the timing and the tone.

Quite obviously it is not intended to have much (if any) effect over the 7 seats subject to elections on Sunday.  The reframing began far too late for that, and has assumed a tone of attempting to calmly yet assertively state a “case” – rather than one of trying to immediately drown out competing populist discourse.

The timeline (and presumably crescendo) appears to be aimed toward the Autumn/Winter when new utilities tariffs will hit the Ukrainian consumer and the populists will attempt to galvanise public opinion behind calls for new elections (and the usual populist promises without providing policy options or outlining the effects on the nation should they prevail).

The question is whether PM Groisman’s reframing of corruption as being specifically linked to populist politics (and energy nefariousness) will find fertile soil with public discourse – and if it does, at what point it gains significant traction?

Will what is now being sown in the minds of the electorate, in tandem with a tangible move against corruption, reap the reward of avoiding overwhelming public support for early Verkhovna Rada elections and also curtail the participation of the public in the usual “call to the streets/gather at the Maidan” rallying cries that may very well be issued by the populist politicians once summer passes?

It is a subtle and rather clever attempt at reframing the corruption issue for clear and focused political ends – time will tell whether having reframed the corruption issue as he has, particularly with regard to energy shenanigans, PM Groisman will go on to win the day and head off early Verkhovna Rada elections via the clear political threat presented by the new utility tariffs hitting the constituency pocket.

In the meantime, expect the “populism-corruption-energy shenanigans” unholy trinity to become a mainstay of his public oratory.

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