Three reasons behind Opposition’s alliance
Ukraine’s strongest Opposition forces, Yatseniuk’s Front zmin (Front for Change) and Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna (Fatherland), have made an alliance, as evidenced by their leaders’ statements, considering that any other option at this stage would spell political death for both.
The Opposition’s motives are clearly apparent. Most likely, Fatherland with Yatseniuk at the helm will top the next parliamentary roster, but purely arithmetically. This Opposition alliance is a definite political brand that will make most Ukrainian voters choose between the “upstairs” and “downstairs” candidates, regardless of nuances. Proceeding from the current electoral situation, the proportionate joint Opposition roster will win at least 30 percent of ballots. This opposition alliance will make loud media reverberations that will last for a couple of months before the election date. This alliance will offer an actual alternative to the current regime, allowing local potential supporters to figure out the situation and join this alliance.
Apparently, the main reason behind this alliance is an understanding that Ukraine’s two major political forces can become a very serious power player by combining efforts, rather than playing separately. Most importantly, this alliance is a serious contestant in the next election race.
The latest poll, carried out by KMIS [Ukrainian acronym for Kyiv International Institute of Sociology], shows that President Yanukovych isn’t fully trusted anywhere in Ukraine; that almost twice as many respondents distrust rather than trust him in the east of Ukraine (57.4 percent vs. 30.6 percent), that his ratings are the lowest in the central regions, compared to the west of Ukraine (12.5 percent and 14.6 percent trust him in the central regions and in the west of Ukraine; 77.4 percent and 69.4 percent do not, accordingly). Interestingly, the Cossack Haidamak Center [in the south of Ukraine] shows a more radical attitude than any organization in the west of Ukraine.
Well organized, Ukraine’s Opposition may well collect more votes than the Party of Regions, and then question the status of the current Cabinet. Despite the differences between the Opposition forces and leadership, the fact remains that this alliance appears to be truly effective, what with its numerous shortcomings, including the absence of reform, anti-corruption action plan, as well as unscrupulous personnel policies.
In other words, the Opposition, with all its pluses and minuses, is the only way to topple the existing kleptocracy [i.e., rule by thieves]. No time left waiting for miracles to be worked by someone. Without an active public response the existing regime will thrive and keep sucking Ukraine’s blood. Mahatma Gandhi wrote: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
It is also true that this alliance faces several problems. The first and most important one boils down to an expert distribution of the majority electoral districts, considering every candidate’s potential rather than political ambitions or funds. The bad example is the election of the mayor of Obukhiv.
You don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched. There is a big difference between standing a chance and winning the game. Yulia Tymoshenko recently declared that the Party of Regions keeps the election commissions and observers in the party-run regions under control. In other words, the Opposition admits its inability to organize a serious public effort to prevent fraud during the elections in the east of Ukraine.
Apparently, this alliance is unable to put together the absolute majority of Opposition-minded voters. Ukraine’s two strongest Opposition parties are unable to keep track of all protesting moods in this society. The alliance’s ratings amount to 30 percent, considering that the current social situation might well give them between 60 and 70 percent. It is also true that many opposition-minded voters are irritated by the performance of at least one of the Opposition parties.
This offers room for a “non-format” Opposition, with the Front for Change and Fatherland being standard-format parties, along with other political forces.
Combining forces with other small-time political parties would surely help the Opposition collect an extra dozen of votes (i.e., people who would either ignore the election or just cast their ballots for whichever party they chose at random). In Ukraine’s political structure, this percentage of random votes actually means the Opposition’s victory or defeat.
Second-echelon opposition-minded parties, like Vitali Klitschko’s UDAR, appear unable to unite and follow in the footsteps of their first-echelon Parteigenossen (UDAR is determined to campaign alone, having no cadre potential, relying on Klitschko’s spectacular sports career and popularity).
Ex-President Viktor Yushchenko recently declared that he is “in the final phase of consultations” concerning Our Ukraine’s alliance with Ukraine’s right-centrist forces (UNP, URP, Sobor, KUN, etc.). His statement was habitually vague. Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, Chairman of Our Ukraine’s Political Council, said that “any effort aimed at making the so-called rightist opposition, on the part of a bankrupt politician, is irresponsible. Such politicians should repent of their packs of lies they have fed the Ukrainian people for decades, promising unity [and prosperity]. These politicians acted abiding by their ambitions and/or for dubious political reasons, thus sowing the seeds of dissent in the Opposition field, whether consciously or subconsciously, confusing the patriotic electorate, denying Ukraine an opportunity of replacing the existing regime. Their national-democratic rhetoric is for the birds because that way they are playing into the hand of the current regime of corrupt Ukrainophobes. Such acts only serve to further discredit the right-centrist ideology.”
Of course, there is no sense in uniting all those small parties that actually exist only in the Ministry of Justice’s files, for this would be like Batrachomyomachia (aslo known as the Battle of Frogs and Mice, a comic epic or parody of the Iliad). The Ukrainian in the street doesn’t trust anyone “upstairs,” although there are still those who believe in the Party of Regions. Considering that many people will simply refuse to cast their ballots, this handful of “believers” may well secure Yanukovych’s second term as head of state (one is reminded of what happened to the “Kaniv Four,” back in 1999 when President Kuchma received his final term of office that turned out to be so ruinous for Ukraine).
This time the Ukrainian electorate is very likely to support the Opposition, so the main task is to justify it. Unscrupulous cadre policy is the main reason behind the prison terms of the Opposition leaders [Yulia Tymoshenko and Yurii Lutsenko]. Fatherland says BYuT has been cleansed and that 42 percent of its local leadership has been replaced. This is good news. In fact, being in opposition helps clean one’s political stables.
Olena DIACHENKO, CEO, Partia Vlady Consulting Co.:
“This Opposition alliance would have been a very positive phenomenon, had it taken place once and for all. What we see is the eighth, maybe tenth alliance. The voters may well wonder about what kept the Opposition disunited previously; also, about all the political forces that refused to join the Front-for-Change-Fatherland alliance. Polls show that Front for Change and Fatherland stand about the same chance of having seats in parliament (whether united or not): 25-27 percent. In other words, 60-70 seats at the Verkhovna Rada, if and when elected on a party roster basis. They could win 130 seats, at best, on a majority basis. Still, this is less than what the BYuT and NU-NS factions have, and a long way from 300 seats. I wonder how this alignment of forces will allow the Opposition to topple the Yanukovych administration. The Opposition leaders are well aware of their [slim] chances, yet they keep convincing the electorate that they will win, probably because there are different scenarios being worked out.
“UDAR could have seats in parliament, except that Yatseniuk and Turchynov would offer nothing except political merger.”