Posts Tagged ‘Svoboda’

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Election loyalties and tactical blunders – Odessa example

October 12, 2014

Not so very long ago, by and large the Ukrainian voting constituency could be divided into Orange and Blue – or Tymoshenko and Yanukovych.

Very much like other nations, many of those who voted Orange have never and would never vote Blue and vice versa.  No different to Americans who always vote Republican and never Democrat, or the British whom always vote Labour and never Conservative and vise versa.

Naturally onlookers may ponder such identity loyalty regardless of platform, policy or candidate – and many social and political scientists do.

The RADA elections in 3 weeks time, this year has no Blue running.  What is left of the official Party Regions is not running.  There is no party list for the party stalwarts to insure their RADA entry.  They are faced with first past the post, head to head electioneering for specific seats.  The exception to that may see Sergei Tigipko’s Strong Ukraine party pass the 5% electoral threshold.  The “Opposition Block” may very well struggle to overcome this hurdle.

Nobody would be surprised to see any of the old Regionaires who win any first past the post seats to coalesce within the “Opposition Block” in any new RADA formation – whether they have any current declared affiliation toward it or not.  It is unclear as yet whether Tigipko’s Strong Ukraine who whilst will certainly be in opposition, may shun any formal connections with the “Opposition Block”.  Time will tell.

However, the Orange vote is no longer Batkivshchyna or Ms Tymoshenko’s to dominate.  It too has been decimated.  The demise of Party Regions and Batkivshchyna long since predicted here.

Though Batkivshchyna and Ms Tymoshenko will enter the RADA passing the 5% party threshold, it is likely to lose a vast amount of votes to Block Poroshenko, Lyashko’s The Radical Party,  Hrytsenko’s Civil Position Party and Yatseniuk’s “People’s Front”.  Very vibrant, multi-party, democratic, and undoubtedly requiring coalition building to form a stable majority – a coalition from which we can expect Ms Tymoshenko and Batkivshchyna to be excluded.

So much for the party lists and 5% threshold – but what of those Regionaries who may win the first past the post seats for which the run and yet were uncomfortably close to the former President and were actively part of his corrupt pyramid?  In Odessa for example, the likes of Sergei Kivalov, Mykola Skoryk, and Eduard Matviychuk to name but 3.

Herein lies a problem for the traditional Orange vote and now displaced Blue vote from Odessa.

The Orange vote has numerous options and candidates for each seat to choose from as listed above – together with several others such as Svoboda who are unlikely to pass the 5% threshold but theoretically can win first past the post seats.  In short, the historical Orange vote will be distributed across numerous candidates.  All candidates will get votes, but none will get sufficient to be sure of victory.

And what of the Blue voters?  None will vote Orange per Batkivshchyna as stated at the very start of this entry, but some will vote for the Poroshenko candidates and perhaps the Yatseniuk candidates due to both leaders having history with Odessa – and history with Odessa counts when it comes to gaining votes.  Parachuted in candidates with no connection or history need not apply.  Others will vote for Strong Ukraine candidates in the belief it will be the only genuine opposition party to pass the 5% threshold.

Many however, will vote for those who used to be Blue – Kivalov, Skoryk and Matviychuk – based upon old loyalties, name recognition, the usual bribery, gift offering and local media bias.  This despite general acknowledgement they were far too closely involved with Yanukovych not have have been large beneficiaries of the Yanukovych system.

Very noticeably, there are no well known old Blues running against each other for any seat.  For example the Markov brothers or Evgene Tsarkov are not running for any seats, and thus the old Blue vote will not be as thinly distributed or split over a particular seat as it could have been.

It follows that although there may be some split of the Blue vote away from the Yanukovych loyalists and beneficiaries, Kivalov, Skoryk and Matviychuk – sufficient will remain to see them quite possibly become MPs due to the many Orange candidates sapping each others votes for each seat and failing to provide a more focused opposition.

As and when these nefarious individuals – and others from other towns and cities – are returned to the RADA, aside from onlookers pondering and decrying the misplaced/blind loyalty issues of some voters once again, perhaps there should be some recognition that had the non-Blue parties been more tactically aware, regarding certain seats against certain well known and corrupt/nefarious candidates, they may have chosen to field a single candidate to focus their voting constituency upon.

Maybe there is still time for parties to negotiate a single candidate to run against these men – maybe not.

All of that said, there is a definite need for an effective opposition in the RADA.  It is, however, a case of returning an effective and constructive opposition rather than returning a corrupt and nefarious body of people that are a hangover of the very worst of Ukrainian politics historically.  An effectively coercive and nefarious opposition may be as bad as a non-existent opposition.

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Much ado about the predictable in the RADA

July 25, 2014

The deliberate collapsing of the coalitions in the RADA this afternoon, followed by resignations seems to have caught many – particular western – on-lookers by surprise.

Quite why so many on-lookers were surprised is – well, surprising.

This morning, this tweet contained within  today’s entry.  Not much warning perhaps.

So lets go back more than a month to this entry that explicitly predicted this occurrence and the reasons why.

Not a surprise when working to time lines – or perhaps better stated, when working backward from a certain date.  For months the goal has been to set new RADA elections at the same time that local elections are to occur.  That date is already set.  It is 26th October.

Thus is it necessary to work back from that date to understand today’s events.

The Constitution of Ukraine states:

The President of Ukraine may terminate the authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine prior to the expiration of term, if:
there is a failure to form within one month a coalition of parliamentary factions in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as provided for in Article 83 of this Constitution;
there is a failure, within sixty days following the resignation of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, to form the personal composition of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine;
the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine fails, within thirty days of a single regular session, to commence its plenary meetings.

So moving back from 26th October, adding together the one month required to allow for the forming any new coalition – which will deliberately not be formed – plus the 60 days required for electioneering, delivers us at 31st July as the very last possible day to legally fulfill the Constitutional requirements and simultaneously hold RADA and local elections on 26th October.

Therefore, that this happened on 24th July should come as no surprise to anybody.  That these matters have been engineered by way of dissolved coalitions when working toward 26th October as election day for a new RADA was clear.

It is a matter of math only, to realise that it was now or never if that goal was to be achieved.

It is also a step welcomed by President Poroshenko.

There may be a war on in a small part of Ukraine, but the rest of the nation expects new RADA elections – and will seemingly now get them – with the benefit of budgetary and organisational savings when holding the two elections on the same date.

Having voted in a president with a war on – why not a new RADA and local government too?

The only thing of particular note from today when looking forward is that Vice Prime Minister Groysman is now acting Prime Minister.

But that is predictable too.

Acting PM Groysman is a President Poroshenko man.  A very capable man it has to be said, but he is of the “right horse stable”.  Will Volodymyr Groysman remain Prime Minister after the elections?  There’s a good chance unless he drops the ball between now and 26th October.

 

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Politics or paramilitary – Svoboda need choose

June 11, 2014

Yesterday I tweeted:

There is no middle ground in a democratic nation for any political party that has its own paramilitary, as my quickly scrawled diagram below (I don’t have time to play with graphics today) illustrates.

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Svoboda, should it go through with creating свободівський батальйон (The Svoboda Battalion) can no longer sit in a parliament or political society of a democratic nation.  Svoboda will be consigned to the detached box of “uncivil groups” that a democratic society need necessarily shun until it moves entirely back within the law – in this instance having no paramilitary battalion.

Accepting that the party itself has passed its high tide mark during the 2012 RADA elections, and have been on a continual slide to irrelevance since due to mismanagement at the local government levels, dissipating once solid support in some regions ever since, combined with numerous acts of political stupidity as previous entries here outline, perhaps in the current circumstances such a move is to be both anticipated and expected.

However, Svoboda currently sit within the “political society” circles shown above.

The party has a very simple choice to make.  To stay within those influential circles of “political society” for as long as possible – or step into the “uncivil groups” box of those to be shunned with immediate effect.

It cannot have one foot in both places in a democratic nation – even in the current circumstances – as there is no place for those directly associated with paramilitaries in domestic democratic discourse.

 

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An eventful few days for Oleg Tsarov

June 4, 2014

Yesterday was Oleg Tsarov’s birthday.

Today, 235 RADA MPs voted to strip him of his deputies mandate – thus removing his immunity from prosecution – sanctioning his arrest and detention for “calls to commit violent regime change and overthrow the constitutional order in Ukraine” at the request of the out-going Prosecutor General.  (Let’s see how that comes into play in the future.)

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His Facebook page is an interesting read – and something to keep an eye over the coming days if his apprehension is less than swift.  Perhaps he will join what is a growing enclave of ex-Presidents in Rostov?  (Yanukovych and Ankvab.)

It is interesting that 235 RADA Mps voted to do so – for it is far more in number than Batkivshchyna, UDAR and Svoboda have amongst their number – and much less than the number of MPs present in the RADA today.  (Also today 300 voted to inaugurate persistent-elect Poroshenko at 10.00 on 7th June for example.)

One wonders just how much another 20 MPs leaving the Party of Regions today affected any voting.

Anyway, an incredibly rare occasion whereby the RADA strips one of its own of immunity – but these are extraordinary times.

 

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Tomorrow’s parties – Where are they today?

May 26, 2014

Yesterday was one of those days my good lady hates – my day full of meetings with diplomats, representatives of international institutions and international NGOs, talking politics, policy and solutions – and she sat thoroughly bored throughout.

It was the sort of day that provides more than a weeks worth of blog entries if all that was discussed, debated and  agreed/disagreed upon was written about by unpacking it all into separate issues.

As always with such meetings, the Chatham House rule applies if I decide to write about any discussion. Of the numerous topics discussed with various people, I will concentrate upon a specific issue raised during several hours of discussion with those very clever people from Carnegie.

Having firstly thoroughly trashed the use of  the almost meaningless but en vogue term “decentralisation” in favour of “devolution”  for reasons of clarity of function and perception when it comes to the subject of moving power from the political and policy centre to the regions, we eventually, several stops later, reached the subject of this entry – the political party void on the horizon for Ukraine.

All acknowledged that Svoboda has peaked and will become little more than a regional party once more.

All agreed that Mr Akhmetov deliberately chose Mr Mikhail Dobkin to lead the Party Regions into oblivion, allowing the ballot box to kill it off rather than Mr Akhmetov simply withdrawing his funding prior to the public nod of approval to bury it.

There was no disagreement that Batkivshchyna will also split into 2 or 3 far less potent individual entities – in effect ceasing to exist as it does today.

UDAR, once Vitali Klitschko becomes Kyiv Mayor will also struggle to remain whole.

So much for the agreed consensus of opinion.

Our problem – and more specifically the problem for Ukraine, was what comes next?

The days of personality based parties in Ukraine are all but over, so where will the new parties come from to fill the void?  They will be ideologically driven if they are to capture the attention of the ever-growing post-Soviet electoral constituency.

Despite a particularly uncivil civil society predating EuroMaidan, the events in Kyiv from December to February created a civil society with clear purpose, enthusiasm and no shortage of previously missing traction with the public.

In a democracy civil society is normally a fertile breading ground for the civic minded to move through from lobbying and activism directly into politics and the legislature.

The current problem is that civil society sees the Ukrainian political class as corrupt, feckless and generally contemptible – which it is.  Therefore it intends to fight the good fight and try and keep the political class from straying from a righteous accountable and democratic path – fair enough, that is part of the role of a robust and vibrant civil society.

However, the most capable individuals within Ukrainian civil society display no desire to move into politics themselves, despite the fact that it seems clear the current party structures that have historically fought for power within Ukrainian politics are all about to fall apart at about the same time.

Of the very few unanswered questions of the evening, was how to move the better and untainted civil society individuals through from civic activist to the political class when they have no desire to do so, and how to generate ideologically founded political parties now, in preparation for the significant party void that will soon descend upon the RADA?

Whether such parties be ideologically centre-left, centre-right, or centre, and be they pro-European or pro-Eurasian, they will need to emerge to replace and/or resist what remains of the political vehicles/parties created 20 years ago simply for personality projection or interests protection.

Some new parties will be created from the splits amongst current parties that have already – or will very soon – manifest themselves.  Others will necessarily need to be born free from inherited political legacies – but from where with a reluctant civil society is a big question.

 

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A master of poor timing? – Miroshnichenko strikes again

May 22, 2014

At a time when southern and eastern Ukrainian sensibilities are very much in the spotlight – and ultimately the only solution going forward will be one of inclusiveness and tolerance within the parameters of any consolidated democracy with regard minority rights and more broadly societal perceptions – the actions of certain political actors seem ill-times at best and deliberately provocative at worst.

Ihor Miroshnichenko has been mentioned several times in this blog historically – and today he manages to get yet another mention – once again with questions raised about timings and the casual effects of actions.  A consistent theme as far as he seems to be concerned.

As an elected parliamentarian, naturally he has the right to raise legislation for consideration.  In that regard there is no issue.  However the latest resolution submitted by him will be considered by many ill-timed, if not deliberately inflammatory.

Mr Miroshnichenko has submitted a resolution to the RADA relating to the changing of names of some towns and cities in the Odessa Oblast – because these population centers are in Ukraine and are using “a borrowed name” – by which he means Russian names.

Thus he proposes changing certain names to Ukrainian names in his submitted resolution.

Helpful in the current circumstances – or likely to further undermine the support for the current interim administration in Kyiv?

Some may perhaps wonder just whose interests Mr Mishnichenko serves – for this latest resolution seems unlikely to be particularly helpful for some Svoboda colleagues sitting within the current interim administration trying to hold Ukraine together.

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Mouth engaged before brain again – Yulia Tymoshenko

March 26, 2014

As is very well known, Russian espionage tradecraft is alive and working very well – as US Ambassador Geoffery Pyatt and Assistant Secretary Nuland are well aware.  Nobody in the EU will forget her publicised “F*ck the EU” statement not long ago made publicly available thanks to Russia.

It should therefore come as no surprise to any of the top Ukrainian politicians, “persons of interest” and “interesting people” – not the same thing – that they too would be subject to such tradecraft, especially so in the current circumstances.

But stupid is as stupid does – and there is nobody in Ukraine better at engaging their rhetorical mouth before engaging their brain than Yulia Tymoshenko when it comes to “persons of interest” to The Kremlin.

Thus the content of this leaked telephone call of Ms Tymoshenko, where she states it’s “time to take up arms and whack those damned Russkis and their leader.”  I shall refrain from translating it all, other than to say that this is by far the mildest of the comments made.  Think scorched earth, flattened Russia, machine guns fired in Russian heads and such.

Blimey how that will help deescalate matters

As I have written time and time again “Ms Tymoshenko knows only autocratic and oligarchical politics. She knows seedy opaque deals. She understands zero sum, conflict and division.”

She later confirmed the authenticity of the telephone conversation in the above tweet – but claimed it had been edited to mislead.

Given the sheer number of so many incredibly stupid statements she has made as a public figure – such as going on television in 2008 stating the global economic crisis would not affect Ukraine – belief in her statements and subsequent spin is somewhat thin.  Thus few will believe her story of the conversation being edited – if it was.

Regardless of any truth in the tale of the conversation being edited – or not – it has very little relevance.  It’s not what you say, but what people hear that counts.

Due to her complete lack of thought of both what she was saying and the medium she was using when she said it, what people will hear in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Kherson, and Odessa, are words from a presidential candidate – and woman widely believed to be very corrupt, far from honest in her oratory, and whom is already thought to be running the country from the shadows – making statements that will only further fuel their Kremlin planted/cultivated anxieties.

Alternatively, it may further spur secessionist sentiment amongst the hard core in western Ukraine to leave the rest of the nation behind if it is seen to be moving too slowly – or not at all.  (At least such sentiment amongst the hard core nationalists that remain alive that is – some even manage to predict their own demise.)

Considering Kremlin attempts to mobilise the south and east of Ukraine must be very disappointing from their point of view thus far, perhaps they will now see a lever that can be engineered to push the west of Ukraine away instead.  Or try both simultaneously.  (The option of pushing western Ukraine away, as pulling southern and eastern Ukraine in seems to be currently failing miserably, is something I wrote about elsewhere a few days ago).

Perhaps once it was leaked, her swift confirmation of authenticity was to make the best of a bad situation.  A swift spin into an attempt to win voters in western Ukraine from the nationalist ranks and such a strong rhetoric may also appeal to the millions of Russian speakers who do not want rescuing by Russia in preparation for the forthcoming presidential elections.  A Ukrainian Boudica of imagery if not action at least?

Whatever the case, it seems there is a competition between Svoboda and Ms Tymoshenko to legitimise everything President Putin wants to plant in the minds of the ethnic and Russian speaking constituency in Ukraine.  Why not just ask these regions to roll out the red carpet for Russian intervention to save them – not from fascists or anti-Russian sentiment – but from unbelievable Ukrainian political stupidity, whilst simultaneously further whipping up any secessionist sentiment in western Ukraine to leave the rest behind.

Considering there is little more divisive in Ukrainian politics than Yulia Tymoshenko – and the ideology of Svoboda – just how incredibly stupid and self-defeating can the current Svoboda/Batkivshchyna Party interim government be?  There seems to be no limits!

Still, a timely reminder for the Europeans, western orientated nations and institutions intent upon supporting Ukraine in the years ahead, of just how very difficult that will be with the incredibly feckless Ukrainian political class and the likelihood of further public unrest  – notwithstanding any Russian attempts to undermine any assistance given along the way.

Although I doubt any within the EU will have forgotten what became known as “Tymoshenko fatigue” a few years ago when she was last in power – if ever they needed a reminder – Yulia Tymoshenko is bound to provide it……time and time again!

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