Democratic Dangers by ProQuest


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									                                                                               THEWORLDTODAY.ORG JANUARY 2010
                                                                                                                                                                             PAGE 25

On January 17, Ukrainians go to the polls for the
third time since President Viktor Yushchenko took
office five years ago. The country has since evolved
from a virtual democracy into an immature
democracy. There is little danger that this process will
unravel, but every danger that it will go no further.
Add to this the political misuse of the H1N1 flu
                                                                         d                                 ANGER IS HARDLY A FAR-FETCHED
                                                                                              term, because in the midst of the
                                                                                              worst economic crisis to befall
                                                                                              the country since 1991, respected
                                                                                              and competent government has
                                                                                              become a national imperative.
                                                                          Yet neither today’s incumbents nor their opponents
                                                                          have persuaded the country or Ukraine’s partners
                                                                          of their determination to place national interests
                                                                          above their own. Will this change once a
                                                                          presidential candidate becomes president?
epidemic, a dire economic crisis and enigmatic deals                         It did once. As a candidate, Yushchenko’s
                                                                          predecessor, Leonid Kuchma did not impress.
with Russia; the election remains open and it is not                      But his first term from 1994 to 1998 swiftly
clear what problems it will solve.                                        revised perceptions of his country as a ‘basket case’.

                                                  P R I M E M I N I ST E R S V L A D I M I R P U T I N O F R U S S I A A N D Y U L I A T Y M O S H E N KO O F U K RA I N E
                                                                                                       A P P H OTO/ R I A- N OVO ST I , A L E X E I N I KO LS K Y, P O O L

          The cancerous corruption of power that
          became the hallmark of Kuchma’s second
          term from 1999 to 2004 had the paradoxical
          effect of strengthening civil society and
          raising civic standards.
             Yushchenko’s presidency has been the
          beneficiary of these standards but also their
          victim. To judge from opinion polls, which give
          him less than five percent support, few people
          believe he has met them. His Orange Revolution
          victory and his almost certain post-Orange
          defeat are testimony to the defining feature of
          Ukrainian political culture: distrust of power.
             What has changed since 2005 is that nobody
          fears the authorities. Were this not so, Viktor
          Yanukovych, the personification of all that the
          Orange Revolution reviled, would have no
          realistic chance of becoming president: in other
          words, converting his thirty percent base of
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