Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ukraine, Reconsidered

Realists who raised any questions or concerns about the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine last year were often castigated as enemies of freedom and/or crypto-Kremlin agents.

Paul Saunders and I drew a good deal of criticism for a piece we jointly wrote in the Spring 2005 issue of The National Interest (On Liberty) , especially when we wrote: "Some act as if the emergence of democracy in a country were solely a matter of protests in a capital city’s main square … and they downplay the very real challenges needed to make democracies functional. Others, anxious to prove that the number of ‘democracies’ in the world is growing, seem more eager to color in new countries on the map as ‘democratic’ than to establish sustainable democracies that genuinely provide freedom, justice and a better quality of life to their citizens.”

Back in September, when the political crisis in Ukraine erupted and the Orange Coalition fractured, I wrote in National Review :

"So where does Ukraine go from here? Can Yushchenko put the Orange Coalition back together? After all, the forces which backed ex-Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych last year are organizing for next year’s parliamentary elections. I can see the slogan now: “We were corrupt but we gave you 13 percent growth.” (So far, under the current regime, growth has slowed to 4 percent). And just as Iranians gave their votes to a hard-line candidate who promised to root out corruption and improve ordinary Iranians’ quality of life, might Ukrainian voters next year decide that the “democrats” can’t deliver and that that the “old regime” was the better option?"

My colleague Peter Lavelle has a preliminary answer he developed for UPI :

"Ukrainians will elect a new parliament in March and one-time prime minister and former presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych heads the political party leading the polls. The "Orange Revolution" that delivered Viktor Yushchenko to the presidency is in disarray, and has given Yanukovych an election platform full of irony: Campaigning against the corruption and incompetence of the ruling elite.

"According to a recent public opinion poll conducted by the Razumkov Center, Yanukovych's Party of the Regions tops voter preference for the slated March 26 parliamentary election with 17.5 percent. The People's Union-Our Ukraine electoral bloc that includes Yushchenko as its honorary chairman is second with 13.5 percent and the Batkivshchina (Fatherland) Party of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko close behind at 12.4 percent. "

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