Friday, December 03, 2004

Yushchenko - anti-democratic?

Now don't get me wrong here. I'm genuinely just wondering how else it is possible to interpret his announcement yesterday that re-running the elections would not be fair.

Yushchenko himself argues that the last round was rife with corruption and fraud. International observers back him up on this. Voters were intimidated and beaten, the count was flawed and - most importantly for this situation - votes went missing.

If votes went missing and those that were left were mis-counted, how can Yushchenko be so certain he was the rightful winner? He can't possibly know - no one does. The only way he can gain any kind of democratic legitimacy is for the elections to run again - utterly fairly this time - and for him to win them fair and square.

How can running them again possibly be a problem for him? If his support is as great as he claims then surely he should storm it? Naturally it would have been better for Ukraine if they could have got a clear winner from the first lot, but it has descended into chaos and near-farce now. Time to wipe the slate clean and start again, surely - and let the best man (which I am pretty sure is Yushchenko, for the record) win.

Update: There have been a couple of very good comments made to this post. If you want a better idea of the situation, I strongly suggest you have a read.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

He IS for rerunning of the secong round of elections (runoff between him and Yanukovich) he is NOT for completely new elections and the reasons should be quite clear: A)the election aparatus and most media is still under the control of those who falsified results last time B)The authorities can find a better candidate than Yanukovich (Tyhipko) and author a better campaign as they have nothing to lose and all to gain unlike the opposition which has no room ideologically and practically to change its position or candidate C) it costs money to run a campaign and unlike the authorities the opposition is NOT backed by oligarch billionaires, Putin or Ukrainian national coffers and finally D) the amount of energy expended by the people on a political process is not infinite and there is even greater danger of violence or apathy if the process drags out for three or more months and both of these conditions favour the authorities and NOT the opposition. Thus, please - rethink your position I think doubting Yuschenkos "democraticness" is a bit premature.

12/03/2004 01:46:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

All the points you make are entirely fair. I can't find fault with any of them.

As much as I have liked and admired the dispatches we've been reading from the various bloggers in Kiev, they are ALL pro-Yushchenko. It makes it very hard to take an objective and dispassionate view.

Yushchenko is being lauded as a saviour in the west in part because of this one-sided reportage. He may well be a saviour - but I know enough to know that I can't make a truly informed judgement on the information that is available to me in English. All English-language reporting seems to be biased towards Yushchenko - if there is any exception, I have yet to see it.

My point is simply that it is worth taking a critical look at Yushchenko as well. What is his motivation, what is his ultimate aim? He wants to be president - that much we know. Does he want to do this for the good of the country? I think - to an extent - he genuinely does. But why would he want to alientate a sizable chunk of the population (the genuine Yanukovych-voters) in the process? That would have the same result as Yanukovych and his cronies stealing the election, only it would be the people we like who won instead.

If Yanukovych's lot would stand a chance of winning democratically with a better candidate, one of the points I've been making on and off for well over a week now still stands.

A Yushchenko victory would certainly be nice for those of us who find him more appealing, as I do. But my worry is for the other half of the population, whose voices aren't being heard in the west, yet who could equally feel that they've had an election stolen from them should Yushchenko emerge the victor.

The fact that he is worried that he might genuinely lose should he be faced with a better opponent simply shows how divided Ukrainian society is. It doesn't mean that running a fraud-free, carefully-monitored election is anything other than democratic.

His opposition to a completely new election is - as far as I can tell - based on fear of losing genuinely, rather than through fraud. This, to me, seems to show a certain lack of respect for the views of those who genuinely have no desire to vote for him.

Having said that, there should be no need to run the elections again from scratch. A re-run final round should be fine. As long as he supports that, likewise: fine. I just hope he has the dignity to abide by the result if it doesn't meet with his approval, yet is deemed by impartial observers to be the correct one.

12/03/2004 03:09:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One major reason for your confusion is that in the West this struggle has been framed as an East vs West event - be it in the sense of Ukraine or in the greater geopolitical sense.

This is a struggle of the powerless against the powerful. One reason (genuine) democracy is so desired and admired is that the power lies with the many not the few - Ukraine has no such democracy. One only needs to examine those in power and compare their economic progress with the rest of the nation - why is the leadership of Ukraine become so well off during Kuchma's reign.

Now as for those who "genuinely" voted for the status quo - they fall into three distinct groups: 1) those who directly benefit from their association with power (would you vote for a government which may prosecute the owners of most business in your region, potential causing local economic chaos?) 2) those who have no information other than that provided by the power (propaganda) - these people have existed under imperial authority for nearly a millenium, free and independent media is a very foreign concept. 3) those who want closer ties with Russia - lets not forget the Russians have been systematically assimilating Ukrainian culture, language and history - not to mention "populating" - for a very long time. These folks feel closer kinship to Russia than they do to Ukraine. Finally - many people were simply coerced by the authorities (emplyers, unions, "hired goons" {Simpsons ref.}, or by extension the local society (see above)to vote for Yanukovich.

So to say that Yuschenko is afriad of "genuinely" losing the count is correct - but it is not the same as to say that all things being equal more people may vote against him. I think it is enough to say that having won as many votes as he has, while keeping in mind that the playing field is NOT level never mind the outright fraud - was a great achievement - so great that it is not unreasonable to fear that it may not be repeated for reasons I described in my prior post.

As for Yuschenko's motivations - who knows - maybe he feels that this is his moment in history, to become a hero, a thing bigger than himself or those he represents. Maybe he sees Havel, Welensa (sp?) and others (heck Ghandi even) and wants to join the club. I'm sure it ain't purely altruistic - but few would risk their lives and freedom for money and priviledge alone (see the reports of how many oligarchs and other gov. stuges are switching sides?) there has to be something more. He is a family man (me too) and I know how difficult a decision it must've been to decide to open them up to the risk of being orphans, exiles, prisoners or worse still... or at the very least to put their lives on hold as this unfolds (I can't imagine they can go out and play or go to school). Regardless of his motivation - no one can argue that the real democratic future of Ukraine lies with the orange revolution and not with the oligarchs and Putin.

12/03/2004 04:28:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Very good points very well made. Thank you.

12/03/2004 04:33:00 pm  
Blogger Elbara said...

I just now saw this exchange. From some personal acquaintance, I believe that Yushchenko is a genuine Ukrainian patriot, as is his wife, and he wants to do well by his country and strengthen an independent Ukraine. Though no one runs for office for purely philanthropic reasons, it has indeed put a strain on him and his family -- even before the appalling poisoning incident whose effects are by no means played out. Thus I support all of the previous comments.

The real question is how well the various parts of the opposition will work together if the well-deserved victory is won. That's the next bridge to cross.

12/08/2004 12:17:00 am  

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