President Poroshenko: victories and defeats of third year in office


May 25 marks the third anniversary in office of Ukraine’s 5th President Petro Poroshenko. A day before the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation presented at Ukraine Crisis Media Center the results of the research summarizing three years of Petro Poroshenko’s presidency.  

Achievements: sanctions and visa-free regime

Having assessed President Poroshenko’s activities over his third term in office experts assigned him the 4,7 scoring out of the 10 points possible. The scoring is lower than the average one in the first year of Poroshenko’s presidency (5,3) and is almost equal to the last year’s one (4,5). Foreign policy comes as President’s best accomplishment with the Ukraine-EU visa-free regime being at the core of achievements in the field. His other achievements include extension of sanctions against Russia, securing the anti-Russian coalition, enhancing the country’s defensive capacities, relative stabilization of the political situation as well as prevention of full-scale combat actions.

Defeats: domestic policy

Domestic policy remains Petro Poroshenko’s weak point. “Declared fight against corruption is not succeeding, reforms advance slowly, there seems to be no evident solution to the situation in Donbas. Staffing policy seems to be unsuccessful. This year the confrontation with the civil society has been added to the list,” said Andriy Sukharyna, political analyst at the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation.

Mounting tensions with the civil society may become a serious problem for President Poroshenko. “They are not only destroying the synergy that was formed after the Maidan, when best experts and the state worked together over reforms, when the influence of the civil society reached quite a high level. Some representatives of the authorities even use the term ‘class hatred’. We are seeing the return of some conflict elements that are typical for authoritarian regimes,” said Oleksandr Sushko, Research Director at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation. “It is alarming when instead of fighting corruption [authorities] start fighting the anti-corruption actors. Their voice is heard both within Ukraine and, most importantly, outside the country. That’s why they start being discredited,” emphasized Iryna Bekeshkina, Director of Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation.

Trust, rankings and the second term

According to the research, majority of Ukrainians do not trust the President, however in a similar way, neither do they trust other political actors. He remains on top of the rankings. “Majority of voters do not have full trust in the President but are ready to cast their votes for him. It’s a crisis of trust but he keeps a certain balance. […] This year, same as last year, Poroshenko succeeded to secure his status as the country’s most influential political actor,” said Volodymyr Fesenko, head of the board at the Center for applied political studies Penta. The actual situation when his leadership sees no competition gives Poroshenko grounds to aim at the second term. “Despite the unfavorable political circumstances Poroshenko has managed to remain on top of the list with no other visible alternatives. […] He can seriously consider the possibility of the second term. Lack of bright candidates creates a situation with no alternatives. A rare candidate can boast of successful cooperation with the civil society and public trust,” Oleksandr Sushko added.

Tasks for the President

Experts agree that the President’s main task in domestic policy is holding the actual fight against corruption. This priority stands for the third year in a row. Experts also advise the President to complete the judicial reform and initiate the election reform. “The staff of the Central Election Commission has been in office three years after their powers expired. There is hardly a reasonable explanation for that, it lies within the President’s constitutional powers. President Poroshenko has not implemented the election reform, moreover it is not even on his nearest agenda. Experts point at the fact that the President and his political party would not benefit from the proportional election system and open election lists, that’s why the reform is not there, despite it was promised at the election,” explained Ihor Koliushko, Head of the Center of Policy and Legal Reform.