Elections to the Verkhovna Rada have turned into a spectacle of populism

Elections to the Verkhovna Rada have turned into a spectacle of populism
Darth Vader has cut the way to policy for new heroes
Photo: Ukrainian Photo

Today is the deadline for nominating candidates of parties for running in the early elections to the Ukrainian parliament. The day before potential winners of the election race held their pre-election congresses, where the nominees to the future parliament were named. When the congresses came to a close it became clear that voters will not be faced with the choice of a program or ideology, rather the choice of well-known, but often distant from politics candidates.

The fresh winds of change of Tymoshenko and Lyashko

Aviatrix Nadiya Savchenko, who has been held captive in Russia for more than two months and the talks about her release have so far been unproductive, tops the electoral list of the Batkivshchyna party in the parliamentary elections. «For the first time in the party’s history I will not run in the elections as the number one. Today, this is a symbol of Ukraine’s struggle for independence, the leader of Batkivshchyna Yulia Tymoshenko said yesterday at the congress.»

Deputy of the Kyiv City Council Ihor Lutsenko, head of the faction in the VR Serhiy Sobolev and 28-year old Olena Shkrum, the former assistant of people’s deputy Iryna Lutsenko (UDAR), were included in the top five. The latter represents the Association of Graduates of Western Universities, another representative of which Oleksiy Ryabchin got the 9th place on the list.

Former MP Taras Chornovol says Tymoshenko’s idea of putting Savchenko on the top of the list of Batkivshchyna a «populist move». «This is a theater of the absurd. Savchenko is a high-spirited individual, but she has no relationship to politics whatsoever. In general, the top ten in Batkivshchyna shows that the faction is not counting on constructive work, rather on disintegration. Tymoshenko is already preparing to be in the opposition and is selecting people that will criticize the ruling authority,» Chornovol told Capital.

Chornovol said that the Radical Party of Oleh Lyashko, who is also building his campaign based on aggressive rhetoric, will put up competition to Batkivshchyna during the next elections. By the way, yesterday Lyashko demonstrated similar techniques to those of Tymoshenko — the congress of his party was also held in the open air. The delegates confirmed the top five, which besides Lyashko include deputy of the Kyiv City Council Andriy Lozoviy, Commander of the Aidar Battalion Serhiy Melnychuk, singer Zlata Ognevich and Euromaidan activist Artem Zapototskiy. Commander of the Luhansk-1 Battalion Artem Vydko, volunteer at a military hospital Olena Kosheleva and famous swimmer Denis Sylantyev, who retired from professional sports, made it into the top ten.

Not a Rada, but a popular assembly

Yesterday, two commanders of volunteer battalions in the ATO zone were confirmed in the top ten of the pre-election list of the People’s Front. Several other active participants in the ATO were given the possibility to test their strength in the majoritarian constituencies. Euromaidan activist Mykhailo Havryliuk and power-lifter Vasyl Vyrastiuk will also run in the first-past-the-post constituencies under the banner of the party of Arseniy Yatsenyuk and VR Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov.

Another know-how of the People’s Bloc is including former and current journalists on the list. But this technique was more broadly applied in the Petro Poroshenko Bloc (PPB), which placed renowned journalists Mustafa Nayem and Serhiy Leshchenko in the top ten of the list. They will be accompanied by the founder of the Chesno movement Svitlana Zalyshchuk, who is slightly higher on the list. «Our crusade to the parliament is our own initiative. We were not bought out,» said Nayem in his address.

The PPB is also sticking to the current trend of putting the names of military officers on the party’s list. But in this case the wager was made on individuals that became known during the period of Russian aggression in Crimea. Given this, pilot and Colonel Yuriy Mamchur, glorified for defending the Belbek airport in Crimea, earned 6th place on the list of the PPB.

«Galloping populism is the driving force of the electoral process. All political players decided to simultaneously include on their lists either participants of the ATO or activists of the populist movement. We will not have a parliament, rather a popular assembly, where the members will speak much about nothing and draft very few laws,» political scientist Kost Bondarenko described for Capital yesterday’s party decisions.

Director of the Public Relations Center Yevhen Mahda says «in a feverish search» for the new faces on the electoral lists the parties often forget about their ideology. «Candidates in the top ten will play the role of a party shop window, but money bags and sponsors of political forces that will run as majoritarians could be hiding behind them. Ukraine is currently experiencing intoxication by democracy, though it cannot be ruled out that seeing a new parliament at work many voters will long for the old days,» Mahda told Capital.

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