A few days ago I rattled off some thoughts about Ukraine’s “united democratic opposition”. Aside from noting that not all opposition parties had signed up to a unity agreement, I also questioned why popular “third option” parties such as Yatseniuk’s Front For Change should join such a collective when the only unifying political ideal is the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
I questioned whether Front For Change liberal voters would vote for a unified opposition ticket if it also meant the anything but liberal, ultra right-wing Svoboda party would benefit equally from their vote. Since that post I have had several emails from Ukrainian readers (who preferred not to have their comments published) confirming that they will not vote at all if a vote for a combined Yatseniuk/Tymoshenko/Klitchko etc ticket also means a vote for putting more Svoboda politicians in power.
One can only assume that this will disadvantage the opposition on polling day if such boycotts occur on a fairly large scale, and also causes one to question whether the opposition parties are really following a sound policy. As I stated in the highlighted link above, there is a genuine and growing call for a choice other than the Yanukovych and Tymoshenko parties as displayed by plumetting PoR ratings but hardly any gains of equal number for Tymoshenko’s party.
Of course there is still time for the agreement between most opposition parties to fall apart when it comes to actually agreeing who will run for what seat at the parliamentary elections, although if a united single nomination opposition candidate is the policy they chose to follow, such public displays of disunity would be a disaster.
It is though, the only policy I have found that has been publicly aired by the opposition parties. Whether that is because they are a concoction of vastly differing political points on the left-right index of ideology and simply can’t agree on any other policies, as yet I am unsure.
Aside from the single announcement that the majority of opposition parties had united to run on a single candidate per seat ticket in an effort to consolidate the opposition vote, there has been nothing more. Not on party websites, not in the media (not even on the opposition owned media). – Nothing. No momentum since the “unity agreement” whatsoever.
All opposition media noise remains directed towards Yulia Tymoshenko’s imprisonment and nothing more, from various parties. Now obviously they don’t want her to be forgotten, but as a paltry 2000 demonstrators at her trial and judgement day should display to the opposition, very few Ukrainians care enough to get off their backsides to do anything about it.
The A-political tax code demonstrations and immediate and large scale reaction to the government taking down EX.UA file sharing website simply dwarfed the reaction to her imprisonment. On both occasions it should also be noted, the government ceded ground to the public.
One must start to question whether a “united democratic opposition” “Free Yulia” is a solid platform and singular policy to put before the Ukrainian voting public who prima facie don’t particularly seem to care. This will surely reach only those who would vote for the opposition anyway.
It seems the Ukrainian opposition have learned absolutely nothing from their opposition neighbours in Belarus.
Since the brutal and repulsive crackdown on Belorussian opposition supporters in 2010, the only issue the Belorussian opposition have pursued is a policy of continual highlighting of “political prisoners”, completely failing to take advantage of serious chances to promote alternative policies to the Belorussian regime when open goals such as economics, giving away the Belorussian gas companies to Gazprom asking Russia to fund the Belorussian army etc have presented themselves.
I fear the Ukrainian opposition will do exactly the same thing. They will simply miss all the alternative policy open goals and continue to talk, pretty much to themselves and the bureaucrats in the EU, about Yulia Tymoshenko, despite the prima facie apathetic attitude of the Ukrainian public over the issue (both at the time and ever since) that raised hardly any protests at all.
It seems to me that if the opposition want to engage in policies that all Ukrainian people care about, they need to at the very least starting talking about alternative policies to those the current government have over defence, the economy, agriculture, energy, health and on-going reforms etc. You know, all those things that affect all Ukrainians every day of every week of every month of every year. What that “governance stuff” is all about.
I am starting to have a very serious concern that the Ukrainian opposition will follow the Belorussian opposition and begin to be caught in a vortex where they are simply talking issues that fall way down the every day priority list of most Ukrainians.
There needs to be, and very quickly, a conversation with the Ukrainian public about their lives and ways to improve them, rather than a running commentary on Yulia Tymoshenko.
I still have serious concerns that any “third option” gains in the last elections will suffer after the October 2012 elections, namely those that follow in 2016/17, if they run on a “united ticket”. Particularly more so if the opposition win a parliamentary majority and it turns into a political farce similar to the last time they were all in coalition together. Lest we forget they failed to agree on anything, sacrificed position and principle for lowest common denominator compromise in a bid to hold the coalition together come what may, and displayed that power rather than principle and political ideology meant more to them than the platform voters put them into office on.
To be tarred with a failure brush a second time would be a disaster due to being in a coalition that flatters to deceive once again.
Surely somebody in the “united democratic opposition” must realise that a dual policy of the enemy of my enemy is my friend and “Free Yulia” are not the policies that Ukrainian voters are overly interested in. They are interested in alternative opposition policies that will affect their daily lives, hopefully for the better.
I have grave doubts about both the “single ticket” and “Free Yulia” policies as the only foundation of the united opposition movement. There simply needs to be more – much more! It seems they are in a parallel political universe talking only to themselves and are determined to fail to engage in a very necessary conversation with the Ukrainian public over things which really do matter each and every day to them.
If all real policy talk that effects peoples daily lives is left to the PoR, then they won’t even need to fix the elections, they will win anyway.
One can only hope that opposition sort themselves out fairly quickly and start talking about things affect the daily lives of those I live amongst. Maybe even more so as US Courts are gathering amongst the storm clouds for Yulia Tymoshenko without any help from the Ukrainian government.