Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Ukraine, Blogging and Democracy

Le Sabot Poste-Moderne is reporting that a compromise has been reached. There will apparently be a re-vote, and both sides have renounced violence.

Let's hope this is not another of those false starts, of which there have been so many over the last week or so. There are still a lot of questions. Yep, much is undecided.

Nonetheless, some lessons learned from blogging the revolution:

  • It is practically impossible for anyone in the west to understand the complexities of the Ukrainian situation, and certainly not the sheer enthusiasm involved - we have never experienced anything like this
  • Many people have confused "Yushchenko for President" with "Democracy for Ukraine" - they are not necessarily interchangable
  • Wearing orange to show support for Ukrainian democracy, even if that is your only intention, actually only shows support for Yushchenko
  • Pointing out the last point often leads to irritated - and perhaps justified - rebuttals from Ukrainians who see in Yushchenko hope for the future
  • That hope can blind them to his flaws
  • Pointing out that Yushchenko has flaws is not the same as saying he is not the better candidate, but it will usually be interpreted that way
  • It is next to impossible to find any pro-Yanukovych views online, despite the fact that he gained the support of a sizable chunk of the population, even after fraudulent results are taken into account
  • The one-sided feed of information makes informed comment of the overall situation utterly impossible - like reporting a US election using only Democrat sources, or on the EU while only reading pro-European blogs and articles
  • Most importantly, after more than a week of covering and following the elections, I have yet to see a run-down of either candidate's actual policies - and without seeing the policies, how is it possible to form a decent opinion?
Finally, the response of the bloggosphere has been incredible. While it took the mainstream media three days to pick up on how serious the situation was, bloggers were on it within hours. They will continue to keep on it, and I with them.

Even if we get it wrong sometimes, and even if we often fall foul of the lure of leaping to the obvious conclusions, this whole affair has convinced me of the good that us bloggers can do. With a UK General Election coming up - perhaps as soon as May - and with the ongoing preparations for Britain's EU presidency and the vote on the European Referendum, I am going to give serious consideration as to how I can help foster debate through this blog. Maybe Blog:Vote is the way forward, maybe something else entirely.

I am entirely open to suggestions - let me know which direction you'd like this blog to go in. It will remain Eurocentric, normally with a heavier emphasis on international relations and foreign affairs than domestic British politics, but beyond that I'm entirely open to ideas.

One thing is sure - this blog will try to remain entirely unpartisan. As the Ukrainian election crisis has demonstrated, it is impossible to reach any conclusions without looking at the claims of all sides. Although I am loosely pro-European, there will be anti-EU posts on here as well, when this is merited. No one political party will be endorsed or slagged off more than any of the others... Well, except for UKIP and the BNP, obviously. But they aren't proper political parties anyway.

Oh, one final final thing - I am fully, utterly aware of how arrogant and self-righteous this all sounds. But such is also the nature of blogging. We're mostly a bunch of semi-anonymous, egomaniacal obsessives who think our views may actually be of merit, and who normally seem to get riled beyond belief when someone disagrees with us. But in that we're hardly different from the mainstream press, or indeed politicians themselves - so what does it matter, eh? Humour us. Fan our egos. Fan MY ego. Go on... Please...?

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still something should be said about someone who can motivate hundreds and thousands of people to protest in the cold for ten days straight and keep the violence to a minimum. To me it says something about that candidates charcater.

12/02/2004 02:53:00 am  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Perhaps. He's certainly done a good job of keeping the situation fairly calm - although this may be in part because he knows he'd lose any credibility abroad (and quite likely at home) were he to be seen condoning, let alonge encouraging, violent protest.

But I rarely go in for the "great man" interpretation. As Discoshaman over at Le Sabot Post-Moderne has pointed out, the situation in Ukraine has "outgrown a man or a presidential election -- these were just catalysts. The real story is that the people themselves have awakened, and that they have a sense of their own empowerment."

That is what we should be celebrating and supporting - the awakening of an entire people to the possibilities of full democracy. Ensuring a free and fair vote is far more important at this stage than which candidate wins - after all, once the precedent for fair elections is set, they will always be able to throw out governments they no longer want at the polling booths, and it will no longer be necessary to stay out in the freezing cold.

12/02/2004 10:32:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More interactivity always draws people in. Try a chatboard box. Offering polls is always good, and a forum is but you need someone to mod it. Offer people the chance to vote on your blog at Bloghop or Eatonweb. I ran a blog and the best thing I ever did was email like-minded fellow bloggers and offer reciprocal links. Much good traffic. Also get your blog listed at:
http://blogarama.com/

http://www.globeofblogs.com/index.php

http://pepys.akacooties.com/

http://www.blogwise.com/

http://jenett.org/ageless/

http://www.weblogs.com/

http://blo.gs/

http://blog.hotornot.com/

http://portal.eatonweb.com/

http://www.bloghop.com/

http://www.sploodge.co.uk/

http://www.blogchalking.tk/

http://blogster.mytopsitelist.com/

http://www.urlspotter.com/

http://www.blogrolling.com/

http://www.blogtree.com/

http://blogdex.media.mit.edu/

http://www.popdex.com/

http://www.daypop.com/

http://www.blogstreet.com/

http://www.myelin.co.nz/ecosystem/

Provides a little traffic.

12/02/2004 01:21:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Bloody hell - looks like a fairly exhaustive list - ta very much!

12/02/2004 01:46:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have yet to see a run-down of either candidate's actual policies - and without seeing the policies, how is it possible to form a decent opinion?"

Yushcheno web site Eng/Rus/Ykr - full details on decrees, ...
http://www.yuschenko.com.ua/eng/

Yanukovych web site Rus/Ykr
http://www.ya2004.com.ua/

12/03/2004 02:38:00 am  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Thanks. But for some reason, Yanukovych's site still won't work for me - it hasn't for the last two weeks. And even if it did work, it would be in languages I can't read. Without being able to compare his policies directly against Yushchenko's the problem still remains.

12/03/2004 10:00:00 am  

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