Taras Semenyuk

The scheduled OTG (united territorial communities) elections will take place in Ukraine on April 29, 2018. The three leaders are known: Batkivshchyna Party of Yulia Tymoshenko, “Petro Poroshenko Bloc” of the current President of Ukraine and the “Agrarian Party”. However, the leading pack might change. One cannot underestimate the Ukraine’s demand for politicians who could deliver a quality policy. There are few of them as of now.

 

The old political class is not ready, and the young one has not reached its adolescence yet. This is a brief description of the state of affairs in Ukrainian politics. Following the “Revolution of Dignity”, the half of Ukrainian parliament has been replenished by new deputies, but they have revealed themselves as a team. They are separated by parliamentary factions and this is the main reason why these politicians have little influence on the activity of their more experienced colleagues. This means qualitative changes are not enough.

 

Polls show that nearly 64% of Ukrainians would like to refresh the current MP list. This means that they do not trust both those who represent the ruling power and those who represent the opposition.

 

Therefore, changes are expected. Parliamentary elections in Ukraine are coming in a year. This is a chance for democratic societies to “reload” the authorities as elections are a kind of a gauge indicating whether a policy was successful or not.

 

Ukraine is undergoing a major decentralization reform now. It cannot happen in a day. It is a long and exhausting process. Its focus goes beyond changing the bureaucratic machine. It means changing the very philosophy of relations between the state and a citizen. All the decisions were made in the capital before the reform. Now Ukrainians are uniting in territorial communities and take responsibility for the development of their communities. It is not easy because people got used to have someone else solves their issues for them. They need to take on this task for themselves instead.

 

All this means that the parties already talking to the people locally will play a big role in shaping the post-election power. The fact of such sympathy was revealed by the previous elections to the united territorial communities. As of now, there are three leaders: Batkivshchyna (motherland) party of Yulia Tymoshenko, “Petro Poroshenko Bloc” of the current President of Ukraine and the “Agrarian Party”. The data differ from the recent polls. They show that the “Opposition Bloc”, a successor of the former “Party of Regions”, ranks third.

 

The contested third place of the “Agrarian Party” is not a coincidence, since it represents the interests of local communities. While decentralization is gaining momentum, communities will determine the future of power in the next elections.

 

In addition, Ukraine’s rankings of political forces include so-called “fake parties”. They are not focusing on working with people directly in the regions but rely heavily on the media presence. There is no secret that television plays an important role in shaping electoral sympathies. About 70% of Ukrainians make their choices based on the TV picture. Therefore, some parties direct most of their funds on political advertising.

 

Populists often use television for their propaganda. They promise quick solutions to complex problems, benefiting from the social and economic crisis.. Unfortunately, this is a fertile turf for them.

 

The recent elections in Italy are an example of how and why the populists win. But this is another story.

 

Instead, it is important for Ukraine to form its own quality political class. It could significantly strengthen the implementation of reforms and bring Ukraine closer to European standards.

 

It is fairly possible to reach those standards. However, there are three key rules to follow. First, quality policy is shaped by quality personnel training through education. Second, the fundamental law, the constitution aims to shape Ukraine as a rule of law state. Third, a quality administration means management on a new quality level. Individuals do not rule the processes, but capable institutions staffed with professional workers do.

 

The most problematic of these three rules is the second one. Every president of Ukraine could not resist the temptation to change the constitution “for himself”. It urges MPs to change the legislation according to the so-called “lobbying projects”. This benefits financial and industrial groups, whose interests MPs represent.

 

Breaking away from this vicious circle will be difficult. However, there is a hope that the power of local communities will prevail over the command of the central authority.

 

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