Archive for June 17th, 2018


“A New Course for Ukraine” – or not!

June 17, 2018

Following along fairly seamlessly from the last entry, an entry that pondered how “old faces” can create cross-cutting cleavages across the 20s-40s Ukrainian demographic from which they are more or less politically disavowed, and that concluded “Simply rebranding (again) will not work.  Ms Tymoshenko has been, remains, and will continue to be a disaster for Ukraine – however she may rebrand herself.  The current president is still an oligarch.  Boiko is still a Firtash man.  Lyashko is a populist (increasing on Akhmetov’s payroll).  And so it goes on whether the potential candidate be current or historically a Ukrainian politician who held (reasonably) high office.  Those perceptions have not and will not change.  None are “new faces”.

To get into the 30s-40s demographic, cross-cutting cleavages will have to be created – and that requires understanding just how these people understand their own identity, their needs, their wants, and their desires – and for the “old faces” named above, any attempt to do that now will very likely to be far too little,  and certainly far too late.

In fact 20 or more years too late for most of the “old faces” to be blunt.”  it seems Ms Tymoshenko is the first to come overtly out of the blocks with this very problem in mind.

As every man/woman and his/her dog will be attempting to target the SME/entrepreneurial 20-40 something voter to boost their otherwise very narrow loyalist voters bases, all will therefore need to be a little more clever than that.

Clearly the previous entry infers that President Poroshenko and The Bankova are attempting to create their own cross-cutting cleavages with the “Pink Vote”.  The 17th June, reasonably incident free “Kyiv Pride” march that appears to have been well policed, will no doubt be used to try and underscore the “pink vote” demographic in conjunction with the intent outlined in the aforementioned previous entry.

However, all “old faces” are going to need to create a large amount of cross-cutting cleavages across all the lines of identity to which to 20s-40s voter demographic relate.  Neither individual “pink” nor “SME/entrepreneur” flirtations will be sufficient to secure voter percentage points from this demographic that has long since shunned “old faces”.  A culmination of sources will be required.

On 15th June Ms Tymoshenko launched “New Course for Ukraine” – timely insomuch as it almost immediately followed the previous blog entry, and was seemingly aimed at creating fertile ground for new cross-cutting cleavages across demographic groups – and “New Course for Ukraine” is unmistakably aimed at the 20-40 somethings with no time for “old faces” such as Ms Tymoshenko.

This entry will not delve into the specifics of what appears to be mostly undeliverable policy prose and “suggestions” from Ms Tymoshenko during the “launch” (beginning of her overt presidential campaign).

Nor will it ponder what was almost a male stripper appearing on stage with Ms Tymoshenko.

Neither is the “new look” Ms Tymoshenko (minus peasant braids) worthy of comment.

The first noticeable error of her launch of this project was that she waffled on and on for about two hours.

Although not quite in the style of “Soviet monologue” attributable to many of her male peers, nevertheless it had the “Soviet timetable” of “far too long”.  Very few, if any 20-40 somethings will be prepared to sit and listen to an “old face” known for her estrangement from truth and gross warping of statistics, for that long.

To be blunt, she (like any “old face”) would be very fortunate to keep their attention for 20 minutes.  10-15 minutes is perhaps more likely.

Another point that was noticeable looking at the audience of gathered party faithful and apparatchiks, was that there were very few of the demographic “New Course for Ukraine” is targeting within the audience.  She employed a lexicon that will have been fairly alien to those gathered.  Her prose was littered with words and name-drops that most of those present would have had to Google to understand.

Her speech therefore, was clearly not intended for those of the party faithful gathered – but for the 20-40 something voters across Ukraine who she wants to convert (but almost certainly won’t).   It will take more than a speech or project littered with “Buzz-Word Bingo” for that demographic to forget that Ms Tymoshenko is a leopard with an “old face” who has never changed her spots throughout the duration of her political career.

Indeed neither are the 20-40 something demographic blind to the fact that the very well established Batkivshchyna party tentacles in every city, town and large village across Ukraine is replete with names that appear as much a crime syndicate as a political party.

In fact what was required of her to deliver was much less of a speech.  About 100 minutes less.  “New Course for Ukraine” will have to find some serious traction to undo her “anti-rating” and/or attract percentage points from the voter demographic she is clearly targeting.  Thus less is more as far as Ms Tymoshenko is concerned.

Ergo for the “old faces” targeting the 20-40 somethings, there is about 15 minutes of audience capture with that demographic, during which no more than five resonating policy points should be delivered – for by the end of the day few will remember all five policy points.  By the end of the week, fewer will remember three of those policy points.  By the end of a fortnight, most may recall only one policy point – that which they felt was most relevant to their needs, wants, desires and individual (and perhaps community) identity.

This is why new cross-cutting cleavages are so important for the “old faces” with no other method of influence over, or penetration within this demographic when it comes to vote capture.

Identity is a very complex thing.  It is made up of layers like an onion.  An individual may identify with themselves and their immediate family first and foremost.  Perhaps then their town, village or city.  Then perhaps their profession and hobbies. Religion – or not.  Their taste in music, and/or a sports team.  A penchant for dressing like a woman on Wednesday evenings and only answering to the name Doreen – whatever.  So the layers go upon layers that go upon yet more layers, until we all arrive at our individual and complex identities that make for a very busy Zen diagram that is very alien to the “old faces”.

An effective cross-cutting cleavage aims to pull a voter into the political fold via one (or preferably several) layers of their identity, as well as needs, wants and desires.  Yet to be effective that cross-cutting cleavage has to have sizable potential capture across many individuals within those demographic layers.  It also has to be attractive to the voter –  at least long enough for them to pay attention for 15 minutes..

This is most important for Ms Tymoshenko, as “New Course for Ukraine” is apparently (and wisely framed) not about Ms Tymoshenko – or at least prima facie that is what a voter is supposed to believe.

New Course for Ukraine” will be a success if the voters tell Ms Tymoshenko what they want – for she will then endeavor to make it part of a deliverable manifesto.   A thin veil over her ingrained populism perhaps – for governance is not always about delivering what the electorate want – sometimes it is about doing what they need (as unpopular as that can be).

Naturally the facade of the Ukrainian people writing Ms Tymoshenko’s policies is not what the party loyalists and faithful are used to.  They are used to the “work for Yulia” or “work against Yulia” for you can never “work with Yulia” perception that surrounds her (and is historically proven).

The age and rural demographics of the Tymoshenko voter are not necessarily that well aligned or understanding of this notional “e-policy making”, and the cynical will view this as nothing more than “on-line populism” and/or a way to fill social media with Ms Tymoshenko and the “New Course for Ukraine” – even if most of the social media content and comment turn out to be critical and/or satirical humour.

Nevertheless, some well-known names may play her game.  (Some no doubt will go on the payroll too).  Most however are likely to refuse invitations – after all 2024 is not that far away when “new faces” will certainly being timing their arrival and will be a far more appealing “ticket” to hold.

The first issue then, is whether “New Course for Ukraine” will gain any traction (beyond satire and social media mirth) and manage to create a voter delivering cross-cutting cleavage – and whether or not it does, just how soon Ms Tymoshenko reverts to type.

The second question will be whether any “peers” decide to follow her lead – or not.

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