According to experts, the greatest achievement of Ukraine in the past six months has been the avoidance of early elections, while the main problem lies in a weakening Parliament.
Kyiv, July 22, 2016. The avoidance of early elections may be considered the greatest achievement of Ukraine over the past six months, while the weakening of Parliament and the actual absence of a parliamentary coalition is the most negative. This view was expressed by most of the 50 experts surveyed on political processes in Ukraine by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic initiatives Foundation. “We can see that a political crisis and its consequences have become the main political event. […] The experts are of opinion that dealing with the crisis, election of a new government and the avoidance of early elections have become the most positive developments. The political crisis, as such, and the low efficiency of the Parliament are among the top negative developments,” informed Andriy Sukharyna, junior analyst of Ilko Kucheriv Democratic initiatives Foundation, who presented the expert survey results during a discussion held at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Successful fights: corruption, judiciary and foreign policy
According to experts, among the greatest achievements is the intensification of anti-corruption efforts – with the first cases conducted by NABU and specialized anti-corruption prosecutors. “At the beginning of the year, corruption scandals had prevailed, but now we see anti-corruption arrests. With proper further developments, there should be sentences that will prove progress,” stated Volodymyr Fesenko, Head of the Board, Center for Applied Political Research “Penta”.
Experts consider that the start of judicial reform and the fact that the Parliament, in which no majority is formed, has managed to gain the required 2/3 of votes. They also consider certain economic stabilization and discommunization among successes.
In foreign policy, the continuation of sanctions against Russia is considered to be a success. “A big plus is the fact that Ukraine has not waived the principal issues. We have managed to bypass the issues of a special status and election law,” noted Oleksiy Garan, scientific director of Ilko Kucheriv Democratic initiatives Foundation, professor of political studies in the National University “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”. The fact that at the Warsaw NATO Summit a declaration was made that first security must be provided, and only then – a political settlement, also favors Ukraine. The Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement is another success.
Weakness – political speculations and escalation of the armed conflict
Among the negative trends, in experts’ opinion, the number one problem is the weakness and ineffectiveness of Parliament. “The worst thing is that Parliament, which should be the epicenter of the reforms, has been weakening. It’s absurd that there are two oppositions in the Parliament and there is no majority,” pointed out Victor Nebozhenko, expert in political sciences, director of sociological service “Ukrainian Barometer”. “We have no reason to talk about the coalition. The coalition should be formed by at least 226 people’s deputies, and we have only 223,” noted Kostyantyn Matvienko, publicist, activist, and political expert at the strategic consulting corporation “Gardarika”. Experts reminded about mass absenteeism of deputies, delayed consideration, or even sabotaging of the vital laws. For instance, the MPs failed to fulfill their budget process commitments and went into recess for the summer. Viktor Nebozhenko added that unlike similar situations before, all three branches of government have weakened. “The President seems to be the most energetic player. He has managed to weaken Parliament and create a technical Cabinet of Ministers. But it turns out that none of the reforms can be conducted. With all these challenges, it is a rather dangerous situation for Ukraine,” he stressed.
Another negative trend is the intensification of fighting in Donbas. “I think the escalation of fighting created by Russia is an obvious pressure on Ukraine and our Western partners to make us adopt a law on elections in the occupied territories on Putin’s terms. I do not exclude that in the fall this law can be adopted as part of the diplomatic maneuvering. The problem is to adopt a law on our terms and not on Putin’s terms. […] But if the security component is not provided, Parliament will pass no law,” said Oleksiy Garan. Among adverse developments, experts mention that the process of rewriting the law that enabled Yuri Lutsenko to be appointed Prosecutor General, as well as a sharp increase in tariffs, to which the vast majority of the population was unprepared. “The main interest this fall is on the tariff issue. Either the political forces seeking early elections will win or the government. If they use a program of social subsidies effectively, then they will slightly counteract the current social and political risks,” noted Volodymyr Fesenko. In experts’ opinion, a negative development is also the lack of adequate state policy regarding internally displaced persons particularly in regards to the abolition of payments until actual residence confirmation. Iryna Bekeshkina, director of Ilko Kucheriv Democratic initiatives Foundation, drew attention to the lack of effective communication. As a result, citizens do not always know about our real achievements.
Political ratings, reforms flow and society’s expectations
Analyzing the events defined as successes and defeats, the experts pointed out that in the results of the study, victories are often mentioned with defeats. For example, some of the interviewed experts believe that no real results have been achieved in fighting corruption and resistance of dishonest judges who now become more independent will negate the positive potential of the judicial reform. “Besides, tactical directions are primarily among our successes, while strategic directions are among our defeats. It’s a rather frightening trend because it indicates that the policy is reactionary, it lacks consistency and the situation remains in limbo. It looks like reforms take place, but actually they do not,” stressed Oleg Saakyan, leader of the United Coordination Center “Donbas.”
In general, noted Volodymyr Paniotto, general director of Kyiv International Institute of Sociology and professor of political studies in the National University “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy,” the situation became tenser, and trust in government as well as opinion of its effectiveness declined considerably. Accordingly, the ratings of various political forces changed. The ratings of the biggest political factions in the parliament “Narodnyi Front” and “Poroshenko’s Bloc” decreased most. At their expense, the political forces that position themselves as the opposition (especially Yulia Tymoshenko’s “Fatherland”) received more support because of a successful speculation on the energy and gas tariffs. “Our data show that Tymoshenko comes first in the party rating. There is a significant difference between her position and the 2nd position of the Pososhenko’s Bloc. Their rating is slightly higher, but the difference is insignificant,” noted Volodymyr Paniotto. The early election scenario is considered undesirable. “We understand that early elections in accordance with the effective law will not change essentially a qualitative composition of the Parliament. If the elections are held, we will have to agree on changes to the election law and to adopt it on the same pro rata basis as city councils do,” noted Kostyantyn Matvienko.
According to experts, among the optimistic social and political trends is a rather high activity of civil society, compared to the time after the Orange Revolution. Its most striking manifestation is through volunteer movement. Oleg Saakyan also noted political activities at regional and local levels. Besides, the events of 2014 evoked the political memory in Ukrainians. “People remember everything – Maidan, Heavenly Hundred and promises. Previously, they used to forgive everything and were ready again to vote for adventurers,” said Victor Nebozhenko. “The fact that after the revolution society has not relaxed and has kept its positions is very important. The loss of hope, optimism and faith in our strength is the most dangerous thing for society. Because if we start to fight, we will win,” said Iryna Bekeshkina.