Part III Stabilization following the destabilization: pre and post parliamentary election scenarios.
Everything has already been said, but since no one is listening, we are forced to go back and start all over again (Andre Jid)
Departure of Julia Timoshenko was quite logical, considering a rising tide of destabilizing trends on the economic and political plane. It did come too late, when most heights captured by the orange team were lost.
Overall, a number of trends can be highlighted, which marked a beginning of a significant change in the Ukrainian politics following the Orange revolution:
1. There was a persistent threat of stagnation, which facilitated the appointment of a new government headed by Yuri Ekhanurov. However, being confined within the framework of election campaign, Yuri Ekhanurov will be forced to pursue a populist policy, of the former government. Project of the 2006 budget indicates an extension of the suicidal Ukrainian roulette -increasing social pay outs, given to it by the government. Up to 60% of the population thinks that the government should redistribute national wealth. This trend does not come as a surprise, since the social benefits have consumed up to 80% of the budget. The danger lies in the fact that the real economy cannot cover all welfare costs, which can only be covered through privatization and borrowing. This put under question Ukraine’s ability to conduct an extensive modernization. According to father of modern economics, Adam Smith, nations predisposed to accumulations get rich, and developed, while nations which overspend their resources will become impoverished.
2. A new scandal between Yushchenko and Timoshenko in the autumn 2004, has weakened both of them while at the same time, happened something, that seemed impossible half a year ago- Donetzk clans came back into the big politics game. Victor Yanukovich unexpectedly returned in the role of Chinese ape, which was wisely watching from a distance a tiger fight. Reincarnation of the Donetzk players has proved the correctness of an ancient Chinese strategists’ rule, Suin-tzi, who used to say: only those succeed in a war that cannot be defeated and at the same time do not miss the opportunity to defeat the enemy. Unlike the Orange, the core of Yanukovich’s electorate has been preserved, furthermore, over the months and a half after the September crisis, the number of people who stated they would vote for the Party of Regions has increased approximately by 10 to 15 per cent. Yanukovich unwittingly became the leader of electoral sympathies; as a result Donetzk players’ ambitions have strengthened. Donetzk players fully understand their chance to become the major, if not only force, which would represent the South-East electorate in the Parliament. After the elections, there would remain de-facto two to three major political forces, occupying central political spectrum – Party of Regions, Lytvyn Block, and probably Social Democrats. Donetzk players have drawn several important conclusions from the last year’s defeat, while also conducting an assessment of all strengths and weaknesses of their rivalries’ strategies. This time round, they are rebuilding their Party of Regions as big political corporation, capable of swallowing up all small and center-left parties, with influential leaders and good organizational structures. Taking into account the imperative mandate which will be in the new Parliament, undoubtedly their faction will be one of the most monolithic and efficient.
3. Subsequently if someone is gaining strength, then someone must be getting weaker. Obviously, the most weakened by the crisis were Timoshenko and Yushchenko. Timoshenko has lost most of her popularity, but in return managed to acquire a reputation of a defender of revolutionary ideals- she is surrounded by extreme radical Orange electorate. However her resource is limited in character- firstly, she is despised by majority of industrial and financial elites, fearing a second PM term will result in socialism confined to only one country. Secondly, Timoshenko’s popularity is concentrated mostly in the Central Ukraine, ensuring a fierce fight for the electorate, competing against Moroz, Lytvyn and Yushchenko. In the west of Ukraine, Yushchenko managed to keep his positions while in the east, majority strongly dislikes the former PM.
4. Yushchenko has also lost most of the levers of power needed to control the situation in the country, which he had during the presidential cadence. Even less instruments of power will remain in his hands after the elections, when the new political reform takes force. President is therefore forced to play with his opponents – Donetzk players, who have become, by most characteristics less dangerous, than Timoshenko. Timoshenko is trying to play a similar game. Ultimately the fate of the country will be decided in that triangle- Donetzk players-Yushchenko-Timoshenko, plus, an important role will be played by Moroz and Lytvyn.
5. Yushchenko fids such as arrangement far from being desirable, neither Timoshenko is happy. Those are the two would rather avid becoming dependent on the Donetzk players, partly because they understand the implications when their relations with the former foes become public. This certainly does look like a betrayal of Maidan’s interests. It is because of that, a formal attempt is made to revive the context of last year’s campaign – directed at neutralizing Yanukovich. Elites also understand the necessity to make arrangements after the elections. It is only the ordinary population that fails to understand the situation, similarly to last year will be poured all over with dirt again, thus further widening the gap between the East and West.
6. Generally speaking, the issue of the prospect of split is becoming a determining factor for Ukraine in the near future. As has been mentioned earlier, 38% of the population thinks that the relations between East and West can be described as hostile. Considering that none of the political forces advances integration initiatives – a grim prospect for the country. Formula advanced by Yanukovich “one country – two languages” is applicable, but it does not have a conceptual underpinning which would outline the ways in which the interests of the East and West, as well as relevant elites, could be naturally integrated into the larger development project of Ukraine. It is possible however for such a project to be devised.
7. Another threatening trend is the future composition of the Parliament – 80% of the current MPs will remain. At the same time up to 50% of the population thinks that the current political elite are incapable of addressing the challenges posed to Ukraine. In other words, the Orange revolution created a new type of a human, simultaneously in the Orange and the White-Blue camps. The masses have become more advanced than the political elites, which creates pre-conditions for a classical revolution scenario – “top cannot do – bottom does not want to do”. If that situation is not resolved, Ukraine will explode with a new revolution- more radical and for sure bloody.
8. Considerably strengthened influence of the external players, realizing the weaknesses of the state prefer to play a straight game with political actor or another, depending on personal preference.
All of those create preconditions for a worsening of situation in Ukraine following Parliamentary elections.
Firstly, the Presidential institution has stopped fulfilling its functions of devising strategy, at the time when the country was on the verge of descending into crisis. In 10 months of presidency, Yushchenko and his team failed to devise any consistent strategy of Ukraine’s development in the next 10, 15, 20, and 50 years. Next six months will be a period of a hectic presidential race, and then probably will come a permanent clinch in the parliament under conditions of parliamentary-presidential republic. If Yushchenko- the president with current powers cannot occupy a set position, formulating some kind of a strategy in advance, why should he do it when his powers are limited? President is incapable of playing a sophisticated game, and this ability is needed more than ever.
Secondly, transition into the parliamentary-presidential model, in the current situation, threatens to cause a total paralysis of the executive verticals of power. We’ll try to predict the situation in the Parliament, based upon today’s realities. Three major forces will get into the Parliament – block of Yushchenko, block of Timoshenko and the block of Yanukovich, plus three smaller columns – SPU, block of Lytvyn and Communist Party of Ukraine. Mega blocks will get from 15 – 25% of seats, whereas smaller ones not more than 5 – 10%. It is possible than other smaller blocks will get into the Parliament. Since none of the blocks will get the majority of seats, the future government is doomed to be a coalition government. What would the configuration of the coalition be? It is clear that Yushchenko will not appoint Timoshenko as the PM; same would go for Timoshenko who will do everything within her power not to give Yushchenko his “puppet” government. Logical configuration would be to form a coalition consisting from the block of Yushchenko, the Donetzk clan, Lytvyn and Moroz. Very shaky combination indeed, especially if you take into account the worsening of the relations between Lytvyn and the Socialist Party. That is only one factor out of many. There are also the appetites of the Donetzk clan, while there is also a group of new-oligarchs such as Poroshenko and Zhvaniya.
The implications of this are those that regardless of more or less serious internal conflicts, the coalition is likely to fall apart, and along with it all hopes of stability. Even today, four months ahead of the election, the head of the electoral team for National UNI0N Our Ukraine, Roman Bezsmertniy, is saying that the new Parliament will be dissolved “unless there is an Orange majority”. It can be predicted that the crisis spiraling out of control will raise an issue for the need of a more authoritative leader. Population, already worn out by the post-revolutionary chaos, will sooner or later want some stability, which can only be [traditionally] restored by an authoritarian power. Today 60% of population supports the idea of “strong hands”. President should take into consideration those digits, as the future of his political career is in question, an in light with the developing situation a bleak future.
Thirdly, it is important to take into account the elite factor. Weakened Yushchenko is beneficial to the old and new oligarchs, who can continue splitting up the economy to a certain extent. Continually declining economy (will continue to dive, taking up a non-functional form of the power verticals) will eventually stop satisfying elite’s interests. Under the best case scenario, this will happen in a few years time, in the worst case, question of Yushchenko’s removal in one way or another, will be prompted immediately after the parliamentary elections. Question that should be asked is in what form the scenario for restoring strong presidential power will be realized. In our opinion there are two extreme scenarios from “Adolph” to “Charles de Gaulle”.
Fourthly, the worsening international economic conjuncture should not be overlooked, especially if you look at the inevitable rise of the price of Russian gas.
Option 1. “Yulia”. Currently, out of the public politicians the role of the “strong leader” can only be filled by Yulia Timoshenko. However, taking into account the above outlined facts, her arrival is possible only if the situation significantly deteriorates or if something happens to Yushchenko, whom she will replace as the president under the slogan “save the revolution”.
Option 2. “Italian”. If Timoshenko is stopped via the strong “Anti Julia” movement, then the destabilized second Ukrainian republic will survive for a few more years. Coalitions will be formed and just as quickly disintegrating, president will, from time tom time remind about his presence by building new monuments, geopolitical partners will openly make arrangements with leaders of factions, rather than with state bodies. Gradual federalization of Ukraine is taking place, initialized by party-financial groups controlling one or more regions. Since parties in Ukraine bear the characteristics of chief-centered parties, whereas unlike leaders unlike chiefs, do not tend to form the principles, but simply lead people after them, conditions for country divisions arise. Today be it Yanukovich’s or Yushchenko’s electorate is no susceptible to rational reasoning, all politics is conducted at the irrational level, which in effect narrows down the chance of a compromise. Subsequently, this increases the risk of Ukraine’s situation entering a period of half-life. Such situation would resemble the first Italian republic between yrs 1949-1992.
Under conditions of permanent political crisis and stagnation, crystallization of the new leaders will come about, leaders who would be able to meet public need of a stronger power verticals. The process of significant replacement of elites will be take place in 2010, unless the president dissolves the parliament before its term runs out, or in the case of a coup.
Option 3. “Enforced”. Under the conditions of total loss of credibility for both Blue and Orange a third force emerges, which could even be military that kept away from political battles. In the mass media there are already circulating a theme about the role of SBU – National Security Service, namely how it saved the revolution in November 2004. Assuming that within each army there is always an “officer Buendia Garcia” asleep, it can be presumed what the forces may try bring order, which could not be achieved by the politicians. The weakest point of such a scenario lies in the fact, that Ukrainian enforcing structures traditionally are very weak.
Option 4. “Stabilizing”. In the new parliament a stable coalition would be formed. Ekhanurov would remain the PM, after the election, and further supported by the coalition National UNI0N Our Ukraine, Lytvyn, Moroz, and the Donetzk clan. Elites will learn to reach compromises, and Ukraine in one and a half or two years will reach the positive trend.