An election that will determine Ukraine's fate?
Ukraine is to hold a snap election for a new parliament on Sunday, called by President Volodomyr Zelensky after he took office in mid-May. His 'Servant of the People' party has never had a seat in the Rada, but according to the polls it is set to gain an absolute majority. Commentators outline what the election means for the country.
Best opportunity since 1991
The election could lead to real change, the Financial Times hopes:
“The pitfalls are plenty, however. The two new parties have little in the way of thought-out programmes beyond their headline promises. While a lack of ties to the past can be positive, in Ukraine's cut-throat, labyrinthine politics inexperience can be a fatal handicap. A parliament of novices could mean chaos. Most important, it is unclear how much the oligarchs who have long treated the country as a fiefdom have been funding and orchestrating the new parties and candidates behind the scenes. ... Zalensky should use a victory on Sunday to assemble a top-notch government led by a proven reformer. Ukraine would then, on paper, have the best opportunity since 1991 to transform its future. It would be an immense tragedy for Ukrainians, and for Europe, if it were squandered.”
A long list of tasks awaits the new government after the elections, observes Hospodářské noviny:
“The situation in Donbass has been in deadlock for years. The Ukrainian army is too weak for a military solution. The exodus of manpower has become more critical. 3.2 million Ukrainians work abroad and up to nine million more earn their money there for at least a few months a year. Corruption and the lack of reforms continue to impede the development of business and society despite progress in some areas. Not for nothing are analysts saying that the parliamentary elections are more important than the presidential ones.”
Rzeczpospolita takes a critical view of Zelensky's election promises:
“The president's party wants to introduce a 'Ukrainian economic passport': each time a child is born the state would open a special account into which money from the 'country's natural wealth' would flow. What exactly is meant by this it hasn't been explained. Nor has the party specified how it will achieve the primary goal of the economic part of its programme - bringing living standards in Ukraine up to and above the European average. That won't be easy; after all, they're far below it now.”
Putin is backing his buddies
Even the list of candidates for the Opposition Platform makes the party's close ties to the Kremlin obvious, writes LB:
“Putin is the godfather of the child of Viktor Medvedchuk, who is on the electoral list of the Opposition Platform - For Life. This leaves no doubt as to who the Aggressor in the East is backing in the Ukrainian elections. Nor are the leaders of this party attempting to conceal it. Instead they are boasting to their voters about meetings with the Kremlin boss and trying to build a 'TV bridge' with the propaganda broadcaster Russia-24 via TV channel NewsOne, which is said to have ties to Medvedchuk. Such a connection to Russia bears its fruit. According to pollsters the Opposition Platform is beating the competition in the fight for pro-Russian voters. ”
Moscow secretly wishing for a Zelensky win
The Russian government is pursuing a pragmatic two-pronged strategy in the parliamentary elections, supporting Medvedchuk while not actually being against Zelensky, according to Radio Kommersant FM:
“It looks as if the Kremlin would be satisfied with a scenario in which the president's supporters secured a mandate for his party to govern on its own. ... In this case two situations are possible - both of them favourable for Moscow: either they reach comprehensive, hitherto unthinkable agreements on Donbass and other issues with the new Ukrainian leadership. That would reduce tensions with the West and increase the prospect of the EU lifting its sanctions. Or, once it becomes convinced of the uncompromising position of the Ukrainian leadership - it would make clear to the West how impossible it is to pursue a constructive dialogue with Kiev.”