Ukrainians are electing a new parliament this Sunday. President Selinski’s new party should win – a defeat for Putin.
Geographically, the distance between the presidential palace in Kiev and the parliament is not great: only around 800 metres as the crow flies. Politically, however, there have been worlds between these two places since spring. In April Volodymyr Selenski won the presidential elections in the second round with 73 percent of the votes and was sworn in as head of state of Ukraine. Already with his first official act he made the members of parliament, the Rada, his enemy. In his inaugural speech, Selensky ordered the dissolution of the assembly and early elections. They will now take place on this Sunday. All polls see Selenski’s party “Servants of the People”, which only emerged in spring from nowhere, as a sure winner. It only seems unclear whether the absolute majority is enough.
From Selenski’s point of view, the dissolution of parliament was a logical step. The completely inexperienced political newcomer, who had previously only played the president in a satirical television role, had no support whatsoever in the Rada. This became apparent quickly and clearly: the members of parliament let Selenski run against the wall with almost all initiatives. Some bills did not even make it onto Parliament’s agenda. Like the MPs, the government did not feel committed to loyalty to the new head of state. All domestic political processes have in fact been blocked for a quarter of a year. This is not changed by the fact that Selenski has begun to rigorously fill those posts to which he has direct access. 56 officers in 13 regions have already lost their positions.
He needs Parliament
But a real president, as many in Kiev say, will not become Selenski until this election, when he has the parliament behind him. The first losers of the vote have already been determined: the vast majority of the previous Members will no longer be members of the new Rada. Selenski has thus achieved his most important goal. Like Selenski himself, the members of the presidential party will be newcomers, if only because the list of candidates was drawn up in an unusual way. Virtually anyone who did not belong to the previous political establishment and held an office could apply.
What Selenski then wants to do with his complete power is so far only recognizable in broad outlines. He has announced the fight against corruption and the old elites – and an economically liberal, pro-Western course. In a nutshell, Selenski’s programme so far has been: “For all good – against all bad”. But a little more is already there. Selenski’s central promise by which he will be measured is this: The president has announced that he will end the war against the separatists led and financed by Russia in eastern Ukraine.
Moscow sends signals of dialogue
Russian President Vladimir Putin will also be among the losers of this Ukrainian vote. Seven years ago, in the last peacetime parliamentary elections, the pro-Russian forces had still achieved a majority and formed the governing coalition. This time the party that openly represents the Kremlin’s positions will be the second strongest in parliament, but it can only count on ten to 15 percent of the votes. The head of the pro-Russian party “Oppositional Platform – For Life” is Siberian-born media tsar Viktor Medvedchuk, Putin’s close personal friend. The Russian president is the godfather of a daughter of Medvedchuk.
The war in eastern Ukraine missed its target and Moscow’s influence in the neighbouring country has not been strengthened. On the contrary, it has made a decisive contribution to consolidating Ukraine as a nation. Perhaps this is also the reason why for the first time in four years there are positive signals from the contested Donbass and from Moscow. A ceasefire has just been agreed under the aegis of the OSCE. In the meantime, the Kremlin has signalled that the resumption of talks in the so-called Normandy format would not be ruled out. A meeting of the heads of state and government of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany is being prepared.