What political powers have the chance to pass into the Parliament at the early elections and how stagnating parties will try to save their ratings
Holding early elections to the Parliament is one of Petro Poroshenko’s electoral promises. In his inauguration speech, the President confined that he would not go back on his word: “The current Verkhovna Rada is not in accordance with the moods of society,” he stated, guaranteeing a full government reboot.
The rating of old parliamentary members is inevitably falling. The elections to the Kyiv Council confirmed the social demand for new political powers, and the early elections to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine will make this trend more noticeable. However, it frequently turns out that in practice the new parties can only be called “rookies” arbitrarily – some projects have existed for several years, and they include experienced political figures.
Forbes proposes to get acquainted with the political start-ups and their perspectives.
The party “Democratic Alliance” was established in 2010 based on the social organisation of the same name. The political power is structured based on the regional principle, with lots of oblast, city and more local levels. In 2012 “Democratic Alliance” wanted to participate in the parliamentary elections, but the political ambitions shattered against financial obstacles – the party did not have sufficient money for the downpayment. At the current elections to the Kyiv City Council the party barely made the three-percent barrier: “Democratic Alliance” initiated the recalculation of votes, which resulted in their receiving two seats in the Kyiv City Council (they were taken by the head of the party Vasil Hatsko and head of the Kyiv department of the party Halyna Yanchenko, activists of the “Anti-Corruption Centre”).
The next goal is the Parliament. “It is possible to provide change with state power, in particular, through the government. And for this, we need to become part of the Parliament and form it,” said Hatsko in a commentary to Forbes.
He admits it will not be easy to do: the main components of victory, besides the professional and humanitarian qualities of the candidates, is the presence in international mass media and financial resources. They will not count on help from fellow Maidaners, among which the representatives of “Democratic Alliance” were some of the most active: “The new government, just like the former one does not want to see “Democratic Alliance” in the political landscape. Nobody wants competition,” says Hatsko.
The party still does not have a lot of money. According to Hatsko, the budget of the electoral campaign in Kyiv constituted $100 000, which were gathered through crowd funding. “We got money from regular people, it was a public process,” notes the party leader. The expenses on the parliamentary campaign are much bigger. According to Vadym Karasiov, director the Institute of Global Strategies, the sum of expenses depends on the party’s initial goal – to overcome the 5% barrier or obtaining the majority. “These are budgets of many millions of dollars. The parliamentary elections of 2012 cose 10-15 million USD for the average party,” he says.
Without regard for financial potential, political scientists are skeptical about “Democratic Alliance’s” perspectives at the national level. According to Volodymyr Fesenko, head of the “Penta” Centre for political analysis, “Democratic Alliance’s” success is explained by several factors, which are independent of the party itself: Kyiv was the epicentre of Euromaidan, and the citizens accorded with the pro-revolutionary party rhetoric, and the city has the biggest middle class scale-wise. Within the scope of the country, both of these advantages are negated. “They don’t have a famous and strong leader, without which it is very difficult to achieve at the national level. If elections take place in the nearest months, I don’t see any parliamentary perspectives for “Democratic Alliance.” Ukraine is not Kyiv,” thinks Fesenko.
Experienced parliament members, instead, are more optimistic. “These are really new faces, which may change something in our country. I hope this is a new political power which will form its own ideology and backbone, and not a new political projects of an oligarch ‘pocket’ party,” says MP Yuriy Miroshnichenko, emphasising that he does not know the sponsors of the party, but this is not for long. “Whether it is Sergiy Liovochkin or someone else, sooner or later, it will surface,” he is convinced.
The social organisation “Union “Self-Help”” was organised by Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadoviy 10 years ago. In 2012 it transformed into a political party. According to the results of the capital elections “Self-Help” received five mandates: the Kyiv Council was joined by Natalia Shulga, acting director of the “Ukrainian Scientific Club”; restaurant owner Sergiy Gusovskiy; Andriy Logvin, co-founder of the company modnaKasta; financier Maksym Hapchuk and TV channel “24” general director Roman Andriyko.
“We combine, on one hand, the civil position which does not accept the current condition of the city. On the other hand, there is correct experience, which we should take advantage of, as well as the leadership of Andriy Sadoviy,” notes Gusovskiy. He reminds that the party is based on concrete actions and Lviv’s successful experience, where many modern initiatives were organised – problems with water supplies were solved, bicycle lanes were organised, silent trams were launched. “Self-Help” intends to employ this experience in the capital, and later – all around the country. Gusovskiy is convinced that the party has to test their strength in the parliamentary elections as well. “We will fight for the interests of all of Ukraine,” he says.
This political power elicits much more criticism, which more or less testifies to its perspectives.
Miroshnichenko calls the Kyiv “Self-Help” a franchise project, which the mayor of Lviv presented in a good light to the disposal of one of the businessmen from the capital. According to him, this party is financed by the co-owner of “Kyiv Investment Group” Vasyl Khmelnytskiy. “I would like to believe that it is not true that Sadoviy engaged in ‘franchising’ and sold it to Khmelnytskiy. But they say it’s his project,” notes Miroshnichenko. He thinks that nobody knows the people that came to the Kyiv City Council de facto (with the rare exception of Gusovskiy), and the project was publicised exclusively using image and Sadoviy. “We will see how they will work in the Kyiv City Council. But I am deeply convinced that ‘Self-Help’ in Kyiv is a blunder,” said Miroshnichenko.
Fesenko notes that having proposed a wide program for the entire country, the party might have good perspectives at the parliamentary elections, and its founder – at the presidential ones. “The perspectives of ‘Self-Help’ are the perspectives of Andriy Sadoviy himself. He has chances to lead his own party into the Parliament,” Fesenko is convinced.
Oleg Liashko’s Radical Party
Olex Liashko, who took third place at the presidential elections with a result of 8% (according to Forbes’ information, the planned maximum posed for him had been 5%), intends to transform his ratings into parliamentary seats.
This political power was founded in 2010 and was initially called “Ukrainian Radical-Democratic Party,” and was headed by Valdyslav Telipko. In 2011 Liashko became the leader of the party, and the party name was changed to “Oleg Liashko’s Radical Party.”
“The Radical Party is new!” Liashko insists in a conversation with Forbes, reminding that the RP participated in the elections to the Kyiv City Council, when they received seven seats. He considers the rotation of political powers inevitable and natural: “When mottos are not in accordance with reality, some political powers go away, others arrive. This is a natural process. For example, “Batkivshchina” got a result three times worse than ours,” said Liashko. “And the new parties may end as badly as the old ones, if they are just as corrupt.”
The weakness of this political power is the fact that the rhetoric the party is exploiting gives a stark but short-term effect. “The Radical Party’s military populism in the short-term perspective will provide high ratings for Oleg Liashko, but it will be very difficult to retain them,” notes Fesenko.
The party “Civil Position,” headed by member of the Parliament Anatoliy Gritsenko, got three people in the Kyiv City Council, among which are his son, Olexiy Gritsenko, a civil activist, psychiatrist Roman Holovnya, and the general director of the agency LIGABusinesInform Dmytro Bondarenko. At Forbes’ question as to whether “Civil Position” intends to run in the parliamentary elections, Gritsenko gives a brief answer by text: “Yes.”
At the parliamentary elections in 2012 “CP” went as part of the “united opposition” with “Batkivshchina” and the “Front of Change.” However, as opposed to Arseniy Yatseniuk, Gritsenko did not wish to dissolve his party in the dominant political power.
Karasiov thinks that should the elections happen in the nearest future, Gritsenko’s party has a chance of joining the Parliament. “But we should not over-estimate Gritsenko’s result at these presidential elections and use it within the context of parliamentary elections,” says he. According to him, there were no serious candidates on part of the traditional political parties at the presidential elections, but they will most probably be prepared for the parliamentary elections.
What is more, the social demand for a leader – a potential victor in the war with Russia, – is being transformed into the desire for peace, however fragile. “And this means that the chances of those who came through thanks to militaristic rhetoric have decreased, tactics, discourse, manoeuvres should be altered. The issue if whether Gritsenko will be able to re-orient himself,” notes the expert.
Towards the exit
According to the newly-elected Mayor of Kyiv Vitaliy Klitschko, the parties whose places may be taken by newbies in the Parliament are first and foremost the Party of Regions and the CPU. “The support and ratings of the CPU and Party of Regions have fallen significantly, now the new political powers have all the chances and perspectives to replace them,” Klitschko told Forbes.
187 members – this is the amount of people the Party of Regions managed to get into the Parliament after the 2012 elections. Staring February of the current year, the ranks of the party have diminished significantly – as of today the fraction has already been left by 117 “regionals,” and the process continues.
“I have left the Party of Regions. This characterises my opinion of their perspectives,” claims Miroshnichenko, former representative of Viktor Yanukovich in the Parliament. “Now is the time when people expect new political powers, culture and approaches.” Meanwhile former “regional” Volodymyr Makeyenko is convinced that old human resources will be in demand as well. “In the US and the West the update of government and the apparatus is gradual, it is impossible to depose everyone at the same time. Say, why should I be removed from the Verkhovna Rada? I know a lot, I can do a lot,” explains the MP.
According to Fesenko, if Donbas remains part of Ukraine, the Party of Regions has no chances for political renaissance. “For example, Sergiy Tigipko’s party, which is grounded in Russian-language regions, may very well have a political future,” thinks the political expert. “Neo-communists may replace the Communist Party, they are more bright and civilised, they may have perspectives.” The former electorate of the Party of Regions and the CPU will not vote for “Democratic Alliance” or “Self-Help,” oriented towards the middle class, as they are alien and enemy powers for the southeast.
“Batkivshchina” is also risking loss of ratings and mandates. “At the moment the situation of “Batkivshchina” is akin to that of “Nasha Ukrayina” – seemingly the ruling party, but it is losing popularity,” notes Fesenko.
Possible transformation awaits UDAR as well, which may become not only Vitaliy Klitschko’s party, but that of Petro Poroshenko as well. “Either the new President will form his own political project, which will most probably be in the lead. And for how long depends on the success of the President himself,” emphasises Fesenko.
Andriy Senchenko, “Batkivshchina” Parliament member, thinks that before organising early elections it is necessary to solve the problem in the east. “If they are held this year, Putin will win by extension,” says the politician. To his mind, if the elections are held in the short-term perspective, all pro-government parties will have ratings close to the minimal barrier. “Those who are calling for early elections will quickly face disappointment. New faces are the same old ones,” he thinks.
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina