RTA expert Dorin Mocanu on future changes to the Kyiv’s policy after the electoral defeat of the ‘party of war’ and impressive victory of Zelensky’s “Servant of the People”.
On July 21 Ukraine had off-year parliamentary election. According to preliminary data, five political formations got into the Rada: pro-presidential party “Servant of the People” (»42-43%), pro-Russian “Opposition Platform – For Life” (»12-13%), “Batkivshchyna” of Yulia Tymoshenko, “European Solidarity” of Petro Poroshenko (»8-9%) and “Golos” of famous musician Svyatoslav Vakarchuk (»6-7%). Already these results allow to take the most obvious and expected stocks of the voting.
The two main results of the elections were the defeat of the so-called ‘party of war’, which confirmed that the dominant socio-political trend in Ukrainian society has finally gone from war to peace.
On Sunday, Ukrainians gave the majority of votes to the moderate center party “Servant of the People” and to the “Opposition Platform – For Life” that does not hide its connection with Moscow. Meanwhile, the political forces still professing the ideals of Maidan and nation-building under the slogans “army, language, religion” did not find a proper response from the Ukrainian voter. This political wing will be represented in the new Parliament only by the parties of Poroshenko and Vakarchuk and will be a clear minority in Parliament.
Another result of the election was the failure of artificial political projects: such as Oleh Lyashko with his radical party. Far-right forces of Ukrainian politics have been marginalized and obviously lost popularity – for example, nationalists united under the banner of the famous movement “Freedom” of Oleh Tyahnybok. Perhaps some of the leaders of this political wing will get into the Rada in single-mandate districts, but it surely won’t be former abundance of nationalists and combatants in the new Parliament.
Talking about possible alliances and coalitions, the parliamentary majority in the first place can be independently created by the “Servant of the People”. A preliminary vote count suggests that the total result of the party according to party list voting and voting in single mandate districts would be sufficient to create a mono coalition and to appoint the government independently.
Monopoly in power is fundamentally important for the President Zelensky. The format of the coalition, where the “Servant of the People” will have to share power with the allies, will seriously reduce the space for maneuver of the presidential party, whether that be relations with Washington, Brussels or Moscow. Among other things, the allies will seriously ideologically burden the centrist ideas and plans of the “Servant of the People”.
Despite the expected monopoly position, dramatic Ukraine’s policy changes can hardly be expected. Zelensky enjoys serious support of the population, while the absolute popularity among the people has become the main resource and springboard for the arrival of the showman in power. Therefore, the sincere desire of Zelensky’s team to resolve the conflict in Donbas will only lead to certain adjustments in the Kyiv’s policy, but nothing more. It is necessary to take into account the negative attitude of more than half of Ukrainians to Russia, which Zelensky will have to pay attention to and which is unlikely to allow serious warming in relations between the two countries in the short term.
Obviously, some adjustments are expected in other foreign policy areas, first of all, in relations with neighbors, with which Kyiv has different types of complicated relations. Moldova stands out in this sense, with which in recent years Ukraine has managed not only to overcome difficult issues, but also to ally very closely. Nevertheless, there are still problems in the relations between Kyiv and Chisinau, and it is difficult to say unequivocally how exactly Zelensky’s team will engage in the dialogue with the Sandu-Dodon government. The results of the first meeting with the Moldovan Prime Minister give reason to talk at least about maintaining positive movements in the relations between the two states. Among the main areas they chose traditionally advantageous topic of combating smuggling on the Transdniestrian section of the border and, as a consequence, further implementation of projects on cross-border cooperation.
Despite the fact that in general Zelensky is rather limited in his foreign policy maneuver, the answer to the question of Ukraine’s role in the settlement of frozen and territorial conflicts remains unclear. At the expert level, Kyiv is destined to be a catalyst in the reset of relations between Brussels and Moscow since the first steps of it were outlined during the overthrow of the oligarchs in Moldova. Now a compromise model of the situation on the Dniester and Eastern Ukraine may be offered through Kyiv but in fact will be agreed in advance by the Kremlin and the European Union. Perhaps the victory of the pro-presidential forces in the election will significantly bring developments along this path.
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