Saturday, July 22, 2006

Ukraine: No Juice in Orange Coalition

Earlier this week, Ukrainian Socialist leader Moroz again proclaimed the death of the Orange Coalition and the formation of a new coalition between the Socialist, the Communists and the Party of Regions. Together, the three parties control 239 out of the total of 450 seats in the Ukrainian parliament - the Verkhovna Rada. Thereby, it now definitely seems as if the last juice has been squeezed out of the orange coalition.

By his action, Moroz has abandoned his allies of the Orange Revolution and turned to the inheritants of the old regime. On Tuesday, the so called anti-crisis coalition nominated Yanukovich for Prime Minister, and the parliamentary committee chairmanships were divivded between the parties in the Rada.

The political turmoil in Ukraine since the March parliamentary elections have left the leaders of the 2004 Orange Revolution totally discredited. A recent poll, by the the Kyiv International Sociology Institute and the Kyiv Political and Conflict Studies Center, shows that Ukrainians now have more confidence in Viktor Yanukovych, leader of the Party of Regions, than they have in President Viktor Yushchenko and political bloc leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

Thus, since February, the confidence for the president has shrunk from 37% to 20% in July, whereas the support for his opponents has increased from 35% to 43% during the same period. Being previously portrayed as a scoundrel during the Orange Revolution, opposition against Party of Regions' leader Yanukovich has shrunk from 42% to a mere 35%.

Due to the political crisis in the country, there have been widespread speculations that president Yushchenko would use his constitutional right to proclaim new elections. However, support for such a measure is low among the population. Thus, 54% of Ukrainians oppose such an option whereas new elections are supported by not more than 26%.

What is evident is that the ideals of the orange revolution now have been permanently buried in Ukrainian politics. Events during spring instead show how cynic realist politics once again stands as victor over the will of the people for democratic change. The heroes from Maidan are now pilloried and exposed to a public ridicule they certainly deserve. Still, politics is distant from popular sentiment.

Then, were the Ukrainians too naïve in their belief in change and reforms? The answer must be an unequivocal no. The people rose to the challenge. It was their leaders who were not equal to the task of transformning Ukraine. Thus, the people has been robbed of its beliefs - if not by its ideals - due to the petty self-interest of its leaders. Still, for the children of the Orange Revolution something has fundamentally changed. Even though there is little trust in their erstwhile leaders, they have experienced that they may take their destiny into their own hands and form a new Ukraine. This will take time, but the time will also come when a new generation with new ideals will reach power to conquer Ukraine's rightful place in European politics.

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