Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Why Yulia Tymoshenko Deserves a Second Chance as PM

[Update: "Deserves" is not the right word in the title above: "Should Get" should have been the phrase in the title. I don't think many of the current political big-wigs in Ukraine "deserve" the post . .]

Just quick a note run off the top of my head (I'm workin' on a web design that I can't concentrate on until I get these thoughts out from jiggling 'round my head):

Tymoshenko deserves should get another chance, if for just one reason:

The Orange Revolution was not singularly about market values (which the recent vote to my mind confirms; see my post below). It may have been that for Yushchenko (though he used more and more populist rhetoric, starting in the middle of the summer of 2004, as the elections approached) and for the West, but as far as I experienced it, most Ukrainians were motivated to join the protest for a variety of, albeit often conflicting, goals that were rooted as much in non-market values (social justice, social programs) as pro-market ones.

Who will strike the best balance between these two sides of the OR coin? I am not exactly sure anymore that Tymoshenko is the ideal leader in this regard, but I want to see her try again. However, along with all of those who voted a pro-Orange protest vote (either for BjuT or the Socialists or Pora-PRP), I certainly don’t think that Yushchenko’s government was heading in the right direction of a proper balance. . .

In short, populism is a stance and not just a bunch of rhetoric and a set of slogans, though Tymoshenko was not at all explicit about specifics on policy during the campaign--except for stating unequivocally that she was against the gas deal and against forming a partnership with the Regions--which does worry me (but her positions on the gas deal and the Regions do not worry me!). However, neither has anyone else been specific in this campaign. As other Ukrainebloggers have noted, this was yet another election campaign season based on personality rather than substance and specific proposals.

If she is PM this time, both she and Yushchenko must agree on a program, and once that is agreed upon there can be no deviation from either side. Yushchenko really messed things up last time around by endowing Poroshenko with such powers to conflict with Tymoshenko. He messed things up last time around by being equivocal. This time, he must commit. So must she, if it turns out that she must commit to fewer reprivatizations and make other concessions to the Our Ukraine, free market liberalism approach (she should not get involved with price-setting again, for example). And as PM, she must prove that she is not herself a crony capitalist, as she was accused in relation to Nikopol.

But she should be given another chance. She is smart enough to handle doing some things in ways that are not to her liking for the sake of a stable Orange-coalition government. I personally do not have such a character; I find it very hard to back or enforce decisions or approaches that I do not like or approve of, but I think she is, well, cunning enough of a character to do so. She will have to check her ambition, but it will be much easier for her if, this time, Yushchenko doesn’t burry a knife in her back from the get to. To my mind, she was showing the signs of someone coming undone because of all the things going on behind her back; which is quite reasonable. I think she would have been much more willing to cooperate with the president if she had not constantly had the gnat Poroshenko buzzing around and biting her where it counts.

But to prevent Yushchenko from doing so again or for going for a Regions coalition, she is going to have to agree to drift closer to some of his positions.

Perhaps I am not entitled to my opinion as I am not a Ukrainian citizen and am writing from the US of A. But then again, lots of very poor people in Ukraine also voted for (what I am interpreting here as) a better balance between the market and nonmarket values raised by the Orange Revolution. This includes members of my own family in both Central and Western Ukraine; some voted for Yushchenko, some for Moroz, and quite a few for Tymoshenko. (Though I have not found out for sure yet, I pretty certain that some of my Poltava family voted for Regions.)


petro said...

good use of the work "cunning". that's exactly my impression. Her bio in Andrew Wilson's Ukraine's Orange Revolution is, in my opinion, a concise recap of this powerful, business operator all of a sudden turned Ukrainian public servant.

Stefan said...

I like Wilson's book on a lot of levels. He is especially good at explaining, of course, the details of how the elections were falsified, but even more importantly how Ya and gang could have so dramatically outspent both Kerry and Bush combined in a campaign in Ukraine. Also, his story about the emergence of what Kuzio called "dissident oligarchs" such as Tymoshenko is important for the outsider who doesn't know the story behind Ukrainian post-Soviet politics. This segment of the book is important groundwork for his demonstration of how it is that Yu emerged as the opposition's leading choice for a presidential candidate according to the logic of Ukraine's own post-Soviet development, not Western machinations.

I also very much appreciate the subtext about virtual politics (Wilson's great addition as a theorist/poli sci of post-Soviet Eurasia is his recent book on the simulation of democracy in post-Soviet space); i.e., how Kuchma and Medvedchuk et al funded far left (Vitrenko) and far-right (Kozak, UNSO) parties to split votes and create a semblance of pluralism.

Tymoshenko is indeed cunning and ambitious, both of which are two sides of the same double-edged swords. I really do think she was loosing control over her own emotions in September. I hope that Yu and Ty can come up with an agreement that will keep things cool and cooperative. If they do, I really do hope that there will be no more sneaking around behind anyone's back (though Yu is loosing most of his domestic powers, there still is room for ongoing contradictory statements and approaches regarding foriegn policy, etc.). . .

Curious. . .Who would be your choice for PM?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I agree. I hope she becomes prime minister again.