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Early parliamentary elections unlikely to end Ukraine’s crisis - expert

August 26, 2014, 17:00 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© ITAR-TASS/Maxim Nikitin

MOSCOW, August 26./ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine’s early parliamentary elections, to be held amid the turmoil of the on-going civil war, promise very slim chances of ending the political and economic crisis, if at all, Russian and Ukrainian analysts have been saying.

President Petro Poroshenko on Monday dissolved the national parliament - Verkhovna Rada. The collapse of the European Choice coalition, created after the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, was the main official reason for terminating the parliament’s powers ahead of time. Under the Ukrainian Constitution the head of state is free to disband parliament if a new coalition fails to take shape within a 30-day deadline. The election campaign will last 60 days and the elections proper are due on October 26.

Ukraine’s latest opinion polls indicate that the parliament’s composition may undergo fundamental change. According to the research group Rating, the top two places will be taken by parties not represented in the just-dissolved Verkhovna Rada - Petro Poroshenko’s Solidarity, which may receive 17.5% of the votes, and Oleg Lyashko’s Radical Party.

Poroshenko has led the Solidarity party for the past 13 years but done little to convert it into a major political force so far. In fact, Solidarity stepped into the limelight again a year ago. Number two in the popularity rating, scandalous and controversial Verkhovna Rada member Oleg Lyashko, placed third in the presidential race with more than 1.5 million votes. Bellow the two favourites there follow Yulia Timoshenko’s Batkivshchina party (8.5%), UDAR (Punch) under Kiev’s Mayor Vitaly Klitschko (5.7%), and Civic Position, under former Defense Minister Anatoly Gritsenko (3.7%).

Whatever the outcome of the forthcoming elections, the millions of people in Ukraine’s southeast, in particular, those in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where the violent crackdown (anti-terrorist operation in Kiev’s parlance) on self-proclaimed republics is continuing, will be unable to exercise their will.

“If we hold the election but a considerable segment of the Ukrainian electorate is unable to participate, there will be no chance to expect Ukraine’s territorial integrity, because too many people will be stripped of the right to have a say in shaping the future of their own country,” Ukrainian political scientist Konstantin Matvienko has told the daily Kommersant.

“Seven million voters will in fact be barred from electing a new legislature. This can be used for fuelling separatism for many years: Donbass will position itself as a humiliated outcast, because it has no representation in the Verkhovna Rada at all,” says the director of the sociological service Ukrainian Barometer, Viktor Nebozhenko.

“Parliamentary elections amid a civil war can never ever be legitimate. And illegitimate elections by no means eliminate a political crisis, but merely aggravate it,” the director of the Globalization Problems Institute, Mikhail Delyagin, has told ITAR-TASS.

Whatever the composition of the previous Verkhovna Rada, there were some responsible politicians in it. It was not accidental that the new authorities in Kiev have forced the Communists out of parliament for protesting civilian massacres by the Ukrainian army and National Guard in the east of Ukraine. Parliamentary seats may go to Dmitry Yarosh’s Right Sector natrionalists and Oleg Lyashko’s Radical Party. The parliament will then turn insane,” Nebozhenko said.

“Petro Poroshenko will certainly enjoy support from the new parliament, but this will not help do away with the economic crisis in Ukraine,” Delyagin warns.

“Ukraine was one of the most successful republics in the former Soviet Union. At the moment of the USSR’s breakup it was one of the East European leaders in terms of its potential. But over the years of independence Ukraine’s population has dwindled by 10 million. One in three Ukrainians is below the poverty line. In the first quarter of 2014 unemployment stood at 9.3% Yearend inflation is forecast at 19% Ukraine’s foreign debt in 2014 reached $151 billion. No elections will ever be able to bridge that gap,” Delyagin said.

“The Ukrainian economy had relied on four pillars: farming, iron and steel production, chemical industry and engineering, which could have served as powerful economic growth engines. The sole remedy that can let the Ukrainian economy survive is integration with Russia and further industrial cooperation that had taken decades to build. If Poroshenko comes to realize this fundamental truth, Russia will be able to meet him halfway,” Delyagin believes.

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