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20 March, 2013 08:16   ▪  

Polish experts: efforts towards the diversification of Ukraine’s gas suppliers stemmed from the failure of Yanukovych’s policy on Russia

“A return to the presidential system, coupled with a stable and disciplined parliamentary majority, has given President Viktor Yanukovych unprecedented political powers,” write political analysts Sławomir Matuszak and Arkadiusz Sarna in their report From stabilisation to stagnation. Viktor Yanukovych's reforms.

“Even President Kuchma, who enjoyed equally extensive powers but was stalled by the fragmentation of his political base, could not match Yanukovych’s capacity for implementing change,” write experts.

“The concentration of power and relative stability of the Ukrainian economy between 2010-2011, created ideal conditions for the implementation of the deep reforms proposed by the president in 2010. Yanukovych’s position was additionally strengthened by the fact that he had managed to completely marginalise Ukraine’s opposition forces. This was made possible in large part by eliminating the main leader of the Ukrainian opposition from the political scene, Yulia Tymoshenko. In addition, the opposition parties appeared to lack an even basic awareness of how to engage in serious politics, not to mention a complete lack of a viable and coherent political strategy for the country, which had been replaced by a series of populist slogans,” underline Matuszak and Sarna.

They add that on the whole therefore Yanukovych’s performance between 2010 and 2012 leaves much to be desired. And although after coming to power, the current government did implement some unpopular but necessary changes, it is hard to determine the extent to which these measures were the result of a genuine desire for change, rather than a response to objective and external factors, including the economic crisis and the need for financial assistance from the IMF. Similarly, it is hard to resist the impression that the efforts towards the diversification of Ukraine’s gas suppliers stemmed from the failure of Yanukovych’s policy on Russia and the unsuccessful attempts to negotiation a revision of the 2009 gas contracts. It is safe to say though that the great potential and the favourable conditions mentioned earlier have now been wasted.

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“Meanwhile, the victory of an opposition candidate in the 2015 presidential election would not give much hope for change. At the moment, the opposition has been taking a fairly populist and reactionary position towards the government’s reform programme, and, for instance, has announced plans to reverse the recent pension reform. So far, Ukraine’s opposition parties have not proposed any alternative ideas about how the reforms should be carried out. Although it may be too early to try and guess what will happen in 2015, the most likely scenario is that the next presidential campaign will focus on the personal traits of the candidates, and the opposition will call for a change of leadership, without a coherent plan for what to do next. It has become quite difficult to identify any opposition leader who could offer real (or even illusory) hope for systemic reform in Ukraine (as was the case with Viktor Yushchenko),” note analytics. 

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