At the presidential election in Ukraine, the majority of population rather voted against Poroshenko than in favour of Zelensky. Ukrainians are tired of war, frustrated with the insufficient struggle against corruption, sharp increase in utility tariffs and other painful social impact of reforms, states Maksym Khylko, East European Security Research Initiative,
Harsh criticism of the authorities on the most popular TV channels also played a role, expert adds.
Maksym Khylko remarks that it is quite a challenge to prognose the politics of the newly elected president given the lack of clearness over his program and team. He adds that Zelensky’s electorate express diametrically opposing views – from supporting Ukraine's membership in the EU and NATO to rapprochement with Russia. His voters expect reducing in gas and electricity prices, but among his political supporters there are people who promoted the painful reforms recommended by the IMF.
In the near future, Zelensky's team will have to focus on parliamentary elections, Maksym Khylko observes.
“Ukraine is a parliamentary-presidential republic, and without parliamentary support, the presidential powers are quite limited. Attempts to appoint the early parliamentary elections are possible – in order to get a large faction in the parliament as long as Zelensky has not lost people’s support”.
Foreign policy as a challenge
”As for the foreign policy of Ukraine, most probable, in the near future we should not expect sharp changes, given that the majority of population supports rapprochement with the West, and the new authority will have to reckon with this”, Maksym Khylko observes.
At the same time, as he thinks “certain attempts to find a new balance in relations between the West and Russia are possible. The new authority will be less focused on goals of membership in the EU and NATO, and some Western capitals, such as Paris and Berlin, will be satisfied with this more “pragmatic” policy of Kyiv.”
Challenges and foreign policy
“In the short-term perspective, Ukraine's relations with Poland, Hungary and Romania may improve, given that the new Kyiv authority will be more inclined to concessions in the issues of historical memory and language. But in the long run, attention to Poland and other Western neighbours might decrease in Kyiv, simultaneously with the gradual renewal of Russia's influence”, Maksym Khylko states.
He warns that Moscow will try to take advantage of the lack of experience of the newly elected president of Ukraine and to offer him the illusion of quick peace in the Donbas. “Perhaps the Kremlin will liberate Ukrainian sailors detained at Azov as a gesture of goodwill – that might become a really good news. But the question is whether Moscow will be able to convince the new president and those who back him to agree on Russian conditions of reintegration of the Donbas to Ukraine”, Maksym Khylko adds.
Warning of Russia and the civil society task
Maksym Khylko fears that it is highly possible that Russia will get the opportunity to begin gradual rebuilding of its positions in business, information and culture spheres in Ukraine. Simultaneously, Moscow will restore its influence on Ukrainian politics. “The probability of weakening and gradual lifting of sanctions imposed on Russia will increase, and the new Kyiv authority may happen to be at the forefront of this process.”
“Ukraine’s commitment to the European integration choice will face the challenging tests, and civil society should exert all effort to help our country pass these tests successfully”, expert adds.
(Agnieszka Marcela Kamińska, PolskieRadio.pl)