Dariya Kravchenko, Anna Kovalchuk
How the Party of Regions will try to hide its past and how the Batkivshchina split will influence its chances
Petro Poroshenko disbanded the seventh Verkhovna Rada and announced the main parameters of the future parliamentary campaign. The date: October 26. The system: current (mixed). The goal: the renewal of government and a response to the social demand.
The execution of the last point may turn out to be the most difficult – the mail political powers present in the current Parliament will attempt to keep their seats in the Parliament.
The representatives of the main political powers are preparing for the elections. Their common Maidan past doesn’t allow them to criticize their fellows – their future rivals, however everyone without exceptions has a high opinion of their chances for victory. “We will definitely run in the reelections. It is difficult to predict the chances, we are not clairvoyant, but we hope that the future Parliament is different,” says Oleh Pankevych, deputy head of the Svoboda party faction.
Svoboda is not distancing itself from the government: “It is obvious that we will accord our actions with other pro-government political powers, but we will have our own district list. As to action coordination, we are open to cooperation,” he continues.
UDAR will not ignore the elections either. “The issue of form is still being discussed, essentially, we have two options: run as an individual political power or unite our efforts in a joint list with Petro Poroshenko’s Solidarnist,” says Pavlo Rozenko, UDAR member, adding that “only positive results come from joint cooperation,” which is particularly the case with the presidential campaign and the mayor elections.
As, according to Rozenko, the political powers have no political or ideological differences, the only issue that remains is technology. “We are carrying out sociological surveys – how to get more seats in the Parliament. In any case, we will cooperate with Solidarnist and plan a common future in the Parliament,” he says.
In any case, alone or with the President, UDAR will be in the Parliament, Rozenko is convinced. The starting numbers the political power has are higher than in 2012: “In the last campaign we started with 4% and ended up reaching 14%. Now we consider our ratings at the start of the electoral campaign at 9%,” says he.
Batkivshchina also wants to run in the elections, but the preparation process is not going smoothly. “I don’t know what decisions were made and who will take whom, unfortunately we did not manage constructive dialogue, practically half of the members of the party’s political council left the assembly,” says Sergiy Pashynskiy, deputy head of the Batkvshchina party faction. “We will consider how to position ourselves in this situation.”
Meanwhile his fellow party member Olexandra Kuzhel assures: the party is a monolith, and the political council made a unanimous decision to participate in the elections. “The political council voted on August 25 that the party will run in the early parliamentary elections. We are going as one team – the Ukrainian national union, Batkivshchina. There was no conflict,” says Kuzhel, “the members were simply tired because of the long assembly.”
“We have been sitting for six hours, someone expressed their feelings, there was no offense intended. It is their right to make the decision, but they are still my friends,” she assures. “Arseniy Yatseniuk? He is a Batkivshchina member, as least I have no information that says otherwise as of now.”
The Party of Regions is categorically against the elections, but they are still preparing for them. “We think that this (the elections) is a political mistake, but we have to run now,” says Mykhailo Chechetov, first deputy chairman of the PR party faction. PR ties it chances of victory with anti-war rhetoric: “We are a party for peace, and we expect a high level of support. Taking into account the sociology and ratings, we will determine who will be on the list, and who will run for districts. In any case, there will be new powers,” he thinks. Anatoliy Hrytsenko, to whom sociologists predict 6,4%, has not commented on his October 26 plans. “I am not ready at the moment,” he answered by text to Forbes’ petition to tell about his strategy and plans of the Civil Position for the electoral campaign.
The members that formed the groups within the current parliament usually run in the elections individually. “The group For Peace and Stability is a group of majority Parliament members that united for their bills to be examined by the Verkhovna Rada,” says Vitaliy Hrushevsky, the representative of the Parliament member group. He admits that the efforts were not fruitful very frequently. “I will run alone,” says he.
He also notes that the order to disband the Parliament completely crossed out the citizens of Donbas from Ukrainian political life. “Nobody even mentions the people living in Crimea,” he emphasizes. “It will not be the government cleanse the people on Maidan expected, because the new political powers will be unable to run their campaigns in such short terms. These are elections without a choice.”
Olexandr Doniy, representative of the Parliament group Sovereign European Ukraine also notes that the group was created to form a Maidan coalition, therefore it was a temporary practical occurrence.
“It is a situational thing, and every member who is part of the group knows how to do politics individually,” says he. He is optimistic about his future in the Parliament: “I have good positions in my district – 31,8% support, my closest rival has 10%,” says he.
Political expert Roman Rukomeda is sure that UDAR, Batkivshchina, Svoboda and Solidarnist have the most chances to become part of the Parliament. It is still undecided who will represent the East and fight for the Party of Regions heritage.
“We have the Party for Development, Strong Ukraine, the Party of Regions and the Communist Party of Ukraine, if it is not banned before then, at the very least,” he enumerates. He is afraid that taking into account the special status of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, it will be problematic to ensure the elections there. Donetsk Oblast governor Sergiy Taruta is convinced: the electoral process will be full-fledged and adhere to the law. “There were skeptical opinions that we would be unable to hold the presidential elections. But we did it,” he reminds.
The members are not too gracious when talking about the past Rada: “De facto, I worked in the old Parliament for only a year, the rest of the time was blocking, non-comprehensive behavior on part of the former opposition, there were fights…,” says Hrushevsky. “But it is history.”
However, the members are doubtful about the next Parliament as well, as the party competition will not be equal: “Unfortunately the tendency is such that oligarch structures are ready to involve significant financial resources in the elections to buy votes and the electoral commission,” says Doniy. Taking the economic crisis into account, it will be easier to do this, he fears: “Very little changed in this plan in comparison with the previous situation, this has to do with the population’s poverty. The issue of bribery did not go anywhere.”
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina