Monday, October 10, 2005

Aslund and Kuzio Articles, Current Election Stats

Here are two articles--one from Anders Aslund and the-now-usual rebuttal from Taras Kuzio--that I have cut and pasted from the Ukraine List sent out by the Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the U of Ottawa, write to him to get a free subscription to the list.

I of course appreciate the rebuttal by Kuzio. . .

Sorry, no time to edit in the paragraph breaks (for some reason when I cut and paste to blogger, the paragraph breaks get lost. . .)

One other thing: a recent poll published in the newspaper Express (from Lviv) stated that if the parliamentary elections were held today, Regions of Ukraine (Yanukovych's party) and BJUT (the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc) would basically tie at around 23%, while People's Union Our Ukraine (the party of Yushchenko, Poroshenko, et al) would garner about 8 or 9%. As for the rest of the major players, I forget the stats. . . (Sorry, I got these figures slightly wrong--Regions and BJUT have around 20% while People's Union Our Ukraine has 13%; edit Oct. 11)

Ukraine's Orange Revolution Can Still Succeed
by Anders AslundFinancial Times, 26 September 2005

The writer is director of the Russian and Eurasian programme at theCarnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), Washington, D.C.

Ukraine's parliament last week confirmed Yuriy Yekhanurov as the country'snew prime minister by an overwhelming majority. Mr Yekhanurov replacesYulia Tymoshenko, the colourful heroine of the Orange Revolution.The move closed a chapter in Ukraine's history but the accomplishments of that "revolution" remain palpable. Ukraine has become a real democracy withfree and lively media, and its foreign policy has become western-oriented.For the past eight months, however, Ukraine's economic policy has beennothing short of disastrous. Economic growth has plummeted from an annual12 per cent last year to 2.8 per cent so far this year, driven by a fallin investment.The blame for this startling deterioration must lie with the government'seconomic policies. By agitating for widespread nationalisation and renewedsales of privatised companies, the government undermined property rights.In addition, it raised the tax burden sharply to finance huge increases inwelfare spending and public wages.Very publicly, Ms Tymoshenko interfered in pricing and property disputes,criticising individual businessmen. Chaos and uncertainty prevailed. Thispopulist policy had little in common with the electoral promises of ViktorYushchenko, the president, about liberal market reforms.Therefore, it was a great relief for the business community and economiststo see the revolutionary firebrands leave the government.Simultaneously, Mr Yushchenko dismissed several big businessmen fromofficial posts who were accused of having confused high government officewith their private business.It was a welcome sign that the newly born Ukrainian democracy was strongenough to be able to oust them after only seven months. Ukraine could nolonger afford their extravagant public quarrels.Today, Ukraine needs a competent government that can pursue a sensibleeconomic policy. For this task, Mr Yekhanurov appears almost ideal.He is one of Ukraine's most experienced economic politicians, having carriedout an earlier programme of mass privatisation and served as then primeminister Yushchenko's first deputy from 1999 to 2001.He has a clean reputation and few enemies and is known as an effectiveadministrator. He keeps a low public profile but that is exactly whatpost-revolutionary Ukraine needs. Mr Yushchenko appears to have kept thisloyal man in reserve.The composition of the new government will be announced any day now butits contours are already clear. About one-third of the incumbents will stay;one-third of the ministers will be able and untainted technocrats from theprevious Kuchma regime; and one- third will be newcomer professionals. Asthis government is supported by nine of the parliament's 14 party factions,it has a sound majority.Thus there are hopes the new government will be quite productive, althoughit will serve for only half a year until parliamentary elections next March.Its first task will be to stop the destabilising re-privatisation campaign,which is likely to lead to only one or two re-privatisations, and declare abig amnesty for other privatisations.A long-promised major deregulation, eliminating thousands of harmful legalacts, will finally be promulgated. The last laws needed for Ukraine'saccession to the World Trade Organisation can now be swiftly adopted. Thebudget for next year, which contains some tax cuts, needs to be enacted.The crucial political battle, however, is the elections next March. Theconfirmation vote for Mr Yekhanurov suggests a new dividing line inUkrainian politics. Most of the rightwing and centrist party factionssupported Mr Yekhanurov, while Ms Tymoshenko's bloc, the communists,and two oligarchic parties opposed him.From now on, the big antagonists in Ukrainian politics are likely to be MrYushchenko and Ms Tymoshenko. Their individual popularity remains roughlyequal. A consolidation around these two figures is possible, especially asthe next elections will be proportional.Ideally, a US-type Republican party could be formed around Mr Yushchenkoand a more leftwing, populist Democratic party around Ms Tymoshenko, butit is also possible that the old fragmentation will persist.Each side has "orange revolutionaries" as well as oligarchs from the Kuchmaperiod. The big question is whether Ms Tymoshenko's revolutionary fire hasburnt out or whether Mr Yushchenko's bold attempt at post-revolutionary
stabilisation is premature.

The Rift that Wrecked Ukraine's Revolution
Letter to the EditorFinancial Times, 29 September 2005
From Prof. Taras Kuzio.

Sir, Ukraine's Orange Revolution, like all revolutions, has a growing a number of myths surrounding it. One, according to Anders Aslund ("Ukraine's Orange Revolution can still end in success", September 26), was that Viktor Yushchenko's election programme supported "liberal market reforms". Yet any careful reading of his election programme shows it was highly populist in the economic and social domains.Mr Yushchenko's election programme became in essence that of the Yulia Tymoshenko government. Mr Yushchenko supported the inclusion of Socialists in the Tymoshenko government, including the head of the State Property Fund.Mr Yushchenko said Ms Tymoshenko led a "young, enthusiastic and self-confident government [that] has demonstrated both macroeconomic culture and increase in social standards".Throughout this year the president has only intervened after crises reached boiling point. Whereas his predecessor, Leonid Kuchma, was a micro-manager, Mr Yushchenko has a distant, hands-off style. His lack of direction was made worse by his attempt at balancing Ms Tymoshenko with his business ally, Petro Poroshenko, as secretary of the National Security Council, in effect creating two competing governments.While concurring with Mr Aslund that some of the Tymoshenko government policies were damaging for Ukraine's economy, we should lay the blame fairly on both Mr Yushchenko and Ms Tymoshenko.

Taras Kuzio,Visiting Professor,George Washington University,Washington, DC 20052, US

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