Saturday, October 11, 2008

Democracy, Ukraine Style

Ukraine's feuding leaders are feuding once again.

The latest struggle in the battle of wills of Ukraine's two political heavyweights - President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko - is over a new round of elections. Yushchenko called for new elections after his coalition in the parliament with Tymoshenko fell apart (again). He wants a new election held in early December, the country's third in less than three years.

But not so fast, says Tymoshenko, who is using her power as prime minister to try and block the vote, saying that the country could not afford to hold another election. Yushchenko then undermined the whole process when he fired a judge who was to rule on Tymoshenko's appeal.

So right now Ukraine may or may not be having an election in December. One thing is for certain, the political turmoil will continue for the foreseeable future. The conventional wisdom is that Yushchenko and Tymoshenko will face off in the next presidential election, which for now is set for 2010, so the two are unlikely to work together. Meanwhile, Yushchenko is deeply unpopular, in the last polls that I saw his party was polling in the single digits, basically tied with the old Communist party of Ukraine, so even though he will remain as president, he won't have a real base of support in the parliament.

Ukraine's politicians then will likely put their energy into fighting with each other rather than tackling some of the economic problems (Ukraine was already suffering from high inflation before the global slow down).
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