Author Topic: Ukraine: Elections without the East  (Read 167 times)

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Ukraine: Elections without the East
« on: June 02, 2014, 03:13:27 AM »
On May 25, Ukrainians went to the ballot boxes to elect their fifth president. This time, unlike after the Orange Revolution ten years ago, little space was left for illusions and naive trust in "good politicians". Many of those who voted for Petro Poroshenko did it in the sober understanding that the country badly needs a legitimate president in order to move towards peace and stability.

These elections were quite unusual not only because they happened under the adverse conditions of an armed conflict. For the first time both leading candidates represented a pro-Western orientation, while pro-Russian politicians were marginalised. The traditional pattern of Ukrainian politics - East vs West - seems to be broken. Does this indicate the transformation of Ukrainian political culture and the emergence of a new pro-Western national consensus? Such a conclusion might, however, be too optimistic as long as in Donbas a peaceful political process is disrupted by separatist insurgency and the mistrust in Kiev remains high.

Overcoming the East-West divide?

The regular presidential elections in Ukraine were scheduled for March 2015, and there were little doubts that President Viktor Yanukovich was going to stay in office for a second term. With his main opponent Yulia Tymoshenko behind bars, the charismatic boxer Vitali Klitschko seemed to be the only hope of the pro-Western voters.

At the same time, the president's PR-specialists deliberately promoted the leader of the radical nationalist "Svoboda" party, Oleh Tyahnybok, who would have been the most convenient opponent for Yanukovich in the second round of elections. In other words, the usual "West vs East" game was the most probable scenario for the 2015 presidential elections.

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