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27-10-2014

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Parliamentary Elections. Party Environment: The Main Party Groups and Their Positioning

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Parliamentary Elections. Party Environment: The Main Party Groups and Their Positioning

This Issue №5 of Your Choice-2014: Parliamentary Electionspresents information on the main party groups supported by voters with regard to their ideological self-identification. The Issue also provides data on the share of women on party lists (the gender element), which under the law “On Political Parties”, should not be less than 30%.  Analysis of program and party positioning in the election campaign makes it possible to conclude that after the upcoming elections, a stable parliamentary majority will be formed around a pro-presidential and, consequently, pro-governmental political force.  For this reason, differences, which have traditionally served as a basis for self-identification of parliamentary parties, will remain, although mixed.  Right political forces will dominate in the parliament, though left parties will strongly impact the content and pace of market reforms.
 
The Ukrainian version of our Bulletin is available at:
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UKRAINE: WORK ON ITSELF
 

The time has shrunk for Ukraine. No one could say what may lie ahead in two, three or five years.

 

If the spring has been coiled for almost 25 years, it will come uncoiled like hell.

 

Ukrainians are moving to the front of the political scene.

 

Some go into politics to reap the rewards from high political offices and distribution of resources and to dominate but new rules of co-existence and political order have already started to shape a new political culture. It could be called the culture of resistance. It is based on understanding by the public of its inclusion in the process of changes and self-realization.

 

This resistance is different and heterogeneous.

 

The public is a problem for itself. The revolution has stirred up different as-yet unheard environments that would search for their identity, conflict, communicate and oppose each other.

 

Under the revolutionary winds, political circles are attempting to catch new trends and keep up with the times.

 

Corruption, stability, prosperity, preferential terms and the second national language have been the main calls at the recent elections, whereas the current campaign makes an emphasis on anti-corruption, decentralization, lustration, security and peace.

 

Ironically, but there is yet another word consolidating the electoral discourse of 2010 (the beginning of the Yanukovych regime) and 2014 (the beginning of new changes under the new President and the new parliament); this word is “reforms”.

 

In 2010, the reforms died because of the desire of dominant political and financial groups to maintain the status-quo and ties with Russia needed for this.

 

Now, the window of opportunities is open. And it is very important for Ukrainians not to look through this closed window at countries, where the governments are really open and accountable to the society and where decisions are not made in favor of those in power. To that end, Ukraine has to become a society that wants to attain this goal. The country has already sacrificed too many lives for the society’s inaction and indifference to itself.

 

However, parties do not only want to express the breath of changes in their programs but also not to let them happen.

 

The demand for another power was that of the Maidan. The demand for elections of a new President and a new parliament has symbolized the dissatisfaction with the corrupt system of public administration eroding the social trust and weakening the sovereignty. These elections would have to legitimate political transformations and accelerate a change in power elites. Yet, they have only regrouped. 

 

The first mistake of Ukraine was the preservation of the rules of the game, under which political actors select the composition of future parliament. In compliance with programs of more or less stable parties, they all want elections to be held on the basis of proportional representation by single transferable vote. However, over six month, none of them, including the President of Ukraine, has launched a public dialogue on this issue.  Having no intention to reach a common position on the problem, political actors “solved” it through the huge number of proposals on voting models submitted to the parliament.

 

In respect of the alignment of political forces, the mixed representation will result in the formation of a parliamentary majority based on the orientation towards the presidential resource rather than on the distribution of votes. In different periods, such majority will be subjected to different influences. In turn, this may provoke permanent “manipulations” of the government composition and corrupt influences.  

 

Besides, the closed-list proportional representation deprives citizens of the opportunity to vote for candidates, to whom they are going to delegate the representation right. Taking into account the fact that most parties are not institutionalized, their composition is formed not by parties but by individuals intended to use them for personal goals, which, in turn, makes party lists the lists of representatives of political actors. From election to election, candidates “migrate” from party to party and parties change their identity, assimilating to election campaign of their leaders. In the long run, this can be compared with touch-and-go game, with the only difference that “numbers” of Ukrainian politicians are constantly changing. Say, Serhiy Tihipko’s Mighty Ukraine and the Opposition Bloc temporarily led by Yuriy Boyko differ only in their leaders. Lists of both parties consist of former officials of the Yanukovych government. There are no other differences between them or their programs as they both have common interests, common past and common desire to retain business. 

 

The Fatherland’s pet project, the People’s Front of Yatsenyuk-Turchynov, stresses serious difficulties inside Ukrainian parties, which are founded on leader personalities and which lack internal procedures.

 

In this context, political technologists of the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko, who stake on here-and-now victory are easy to understand but the stability of this party is dubious, at least, in the context of two election cycles. The same holds true about parties of Serhiy Tihipko and Anatoliy Hrytsenko. 

 

The old procedures for power formation conserve the old power groups under the new “covers”. Although 2/3 of parties will run for parliamentary seats for the first time, 50% of them have intentionally rebranded for the presidential (the Right Sector) or parliamentary elections. The Bloc of Petro Poroshenko, the Opposition Bloc and the Mighty Ukraine actually serve as “political umbrellas” for many groups. This time, the new “party in power” will be victorious over the old one.

 

The history of every Ukrainian party deserves a novel concerning how it was founded, what party it joined and for what purposes, what it “sacrificed” and when. It is evident that the party policy and conditions for the functioning of these electoral subjects need changes promoting their institutionalization, openness, identification and a responsible government policy. Although current politicians have opinions on any issue, one may not rely on them as demonstrated by the Maidan events and the war in Donbas.

 

Analysis of party election programs indicates that parties lag behind the changes and do not trouble themselves to develop strategies, even for the short-term period. Their actions have narrowed to the function of the election machinery, which is not sufficient.

 

Parties will definitely never create ideas but in this situation, they will be forced to adapt and express ideas generated by the public. For the time being, many people have not yet decided whom to support[1]. People cannot identify parties by any marker (ideological or organizational), except for the leader one, and therefore assess party activities and build their expectations on party positions in the power (current-future).

 

There two basic preconditions for enhancing the level of party identification and responsibility: a move to the proportional representation by single transferable vote and party-list voting. As a result, this will encourage the formation of program-based rather than leader-centered parties. The reduction of opportunities for corruption, adherence to clear and reasonable rules of transparent political funding along with party opportunities to raise funds for development and activities will increase competition between parties. 

 

Parties impede changes inside themselves. Specifically, actively exploiting images of women heroes and women leaders, most of them have disregarded the principle of equal rights of men and women in the election process. Only 3% of 29 political parties have the share of women of 30% and more on their lists. Probably, only hermeneutists could say whether the amount of quotas for minimum gender representation (not less than 30%) in party statutes has to be identical to that in party lists. Yet, it has to be mentioned that the patriarchal nature of party-building does not yet correspond to the role of women in social transformations.  

 

Yet, given unprecedented challenges and general transformations going on in Ukraine, they could not be allowed to exist as they are. The new times call for a democratic and responsible government to be formed as a result of party democratization.

 



[1] According to survey data, a week before the elections, 32% of voters have not determined their party preferences; the survey on “Electoral Attitudes of Population One Month before the Elections” has been carried out by Ilko Kucherov Democratic Initiates Foundation on 9-18 October, 2014 // http://www.dif.org.ua/ua/events/elektoralni-nastroi-naselennja-naperedodni-viboriv.htm 

The Ukrainian version of our Bulletin is available at:
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The issue is prepared under the Project on “Promoting Transparency in Political Processes” funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (USA).



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