The election results have left little doubt: Ukraine’s voters have given an absolute majority to three pro-Western, pro-EU parties. Reuters:
“The majority of voters were in favour of the political forces that support the president’s peace plan and seek a political solution to the situation in the Donbass,” Poroshenko said soon after polls closed, referring to the region where fighting has been heaviest in the industrialised east.Final results from voting on party lists and single-seat constituencies will not be known for days. But with a third like-minded party, Selfhelp, on 11 percent with 38 percent of votes counted, Poroshenko can forge a strong coalition government.The 49-year-old confectionery magnate is likely to continue working in close tandem with Yatseniuk, with the latter possibly staying on as prime minister to handle sensitive talks with the West on aid for the war-shattered economy.
Now the real work begins. Ukraine is an oligarchy, with billionaires controlling much of the political and economic life of the country. Since they first amassed their fortunes as communism collapsed, the oligarchs in Ukraine have tried to keep the country balanced between east and west. They didn’t want Putin to break their political power and control their assets as he did with Russia’s oligarchs—and they didn’t want a bunch of pesky anti-corruption judges, EU bureaucrats, and tax collectors messing with the fiefs they had put together.
That middle course was a disaster for the people of Ukraine, who have lived under kleptocracies almost without interruption since 1990. The economy has withered, and deep corruption has penetrated the country’s governmental and even educational institutions. One consequence of a generation of state failure was the country’s haplessness before Russian invasion.
Now the question isn’t whether Ukraine’s new rulers sign a bunch of agreements with the EU and the IMF. It’s whether they can build a real country even as Putin tries to block all progress and keep Ukraine as weak and divided as possible.
The next six months will tell us much about the future of Ukraine.