The Ser­vant of the Peo­ple: Sexy CPSU

2020 lo­cal elec­tions will be more of a chal­lenge for the Ser­vant of the Peo­ple party than the par­lia­men­tary cam­paign

The Ukrainian Week - - CONTENTS - An­driy Holub *Com­mu­nist Party of the Soviet Union – the rul­ing party dur­ing Soviet regime

Lo­cal elec­tions as a chal­lenge for the Ser­vant of the Peo­ple party

The party in power is un­der­go­ing changes. The party congress, which took place in the cap­i­tal on Novem­ber 10, elected a new chair­man of the po­lit­i­cal force. In­stead of the cur­rent speaker, Dmytro Razumkov, Sluha Nar­odu (The Ser­vant of the Peo­ple) will be headed by Olek­sandr Kornienko, the cur­rent deputy head of the fac­tion in par­lia­ment. This is only the be­gin­ning. The congress did not end, how­ever, an­nounc­ing the break un­til Fe­bru­ary. Dur­ing this time, they should adopt a new statute, and pos­si­bly re-stan­dard­ize the en­tire po­lit­i­cal field of the coun­try.

On that note, the only but ex­tremely suc­cess­ful year in the po­lit­i­cal his­tory of Volodymyr Ze­len­skiy and his team ends. The in­cum­bent pres­i­dent first pub­licly an­nounced his po­lit­i­cal en­gage­ment on the night of Jan­uary 1, 2019. He is now the most pop­u­lar politi­cian in the coun­try, and his po­lit­i­cal force has gained sole ma­jor­ity in the par­lia­ment. It would seem that the mechanism is well es­tab­lished and any in­ter­ven­tions are su­per­flu­ous. How­ever, the year of easy vic­to­ries is be­ing re­placed by a year of se­ri­ous tri­als. Na­tion­wide lo­cal elec­tions are a key prob­lem which the part of Ze­len­skiy’s com­rades in­volved in party build­ing is rak­ing their brains over.

The suc­cess or de­feat of the Ser­vant of the Peo­ple in fu­ture races will de­pend on a num­ber of vari­ables. The party will def­i­nitely not be able to rely on the trump card of 2019 — an elec­toral blitzkrieg. One can still ar­gue about the rea­sons for Ze­len­skiy’s pop­u­lar­ity, but a large part of the pop­u­la­tion blindly (given the al­most com­plete ab­sence of spe­cific prom­ises) trusted the can­di­date.

Of course, this is not 73% of the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion. Ze­len­skiy’s sup­port fig­ure in the sec­ond round of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion has be­come a meme used by both sup­port­ers and op­po­nents of the new gov­ern­ment. The for­mer use it to jus­tify any ac­tions

and de­ci­sions, the lat­ter use it to as­sert them­selves in the niche of “in­tel­lec­tual op­po­si­tion”. In fact, Ze­len­skiy was sup­ported by 13.5 mil­lion vot­ers out of more than 30.5 mil­lion el­i­gi­ble to vote. For com­par­i­son, Vik­tor Yanukovych did not have much less votes in the suc­cess­ful 2010 elec­tions — 12.5 mil­lion. Just the com­pe­ti­tion in those po­lit­i­cal races was fiercer. The main thing is that the team of Ze­len­skiy fully used the aus­pi­cious mo­ment. There­fore, they dis­solved the Verkhovna Rada of the 8th con­vo­ca­tion, with­out wait­ing for the au­tumn elec­tions. The as­sump­tion was suc­cess­ful. The party, which had noth­ing but a name at the be­gin­ning of the year, won 6.3 mil­lion votes and a clear first place. The suc­cess in the sin­gle-man­date dis­tricts was re­mark­able. The Ser­vant of the Peo­ple won more than half of them, leav­ing be­hind politi­cians who had been “pre­par­ing the ground” for years. There were ideas on the wave of suc­cess to hold fast lo­cal elec­tions across the coun­try or at least in ma­jor cities. This did not hap­pen and could not hap­pen in prin­ci­ple, be­cause the Ser­vant of the Peo­ple did not ex­ist as a party in the in­sti­tu­tional sense.

So the lo­cal race cam­paign will be long and tire­some. Most likely, the vote will take place in the fall of 2020, although the party in power still has not fi­nally re­jected the idea of elec­tions in the spring. The res­o­lu­tion of the is­sue there is linked to the com­ple­tion of the de­cen­tral­iza­tion re­form. At the same time the ef­fect of the open-hearted charm and nov­elty of Volodymyr Ze­len­skiy has al­ready been ex­hausted. This is recorded by so­ci­ol­o­gists. Ac­cord­ing to the Razumkov Cen­ter, from Oc­to­ber to Novem­ber the bal­ance of trust in the pres­i­dent de­creased from 48% to 43%. Prime Min­is­ter Olek­siy Hon­charuk’s bal­ance of trust gen­er­ally be­came neg­a­tive dur­ing this time. Speaker Dmitry Razumkov’s bal­ance de­te­ri­o­rated from 26% to 21%.

The share of those who be­lieve that the events in Ukraine are mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion fell from 45% to 37.5% in the same month. Those who think the cur­rent gov­ern­ment is bet­ter than the pre­vi­ous one were 48% in early Oc­to­ber and 43% in Novem­ber.

The Ser­vant of the Peo­ple is aware of the risks, but still hopes to main­tain a high rat­ing. It melts against the back­drop of quar­rels and scan­dals within the po­lit­i­cal force it­self. That’s what the new party chair­man Olek­sandr Kornienko said at a Novem­ber congress when he used a ne­ol­o­gism “sexy party”. Be­ing sexy is first and fore­most to keep a rat­ing that can at­tract de­cent can­di­dates on the ground. Ac­cord­ing to Olek­sandr Kornienko, they will join, only “if by that time (at the be­gin­ning of lo­cal elec­tions — Ed.) we will not have caused our rat­ing plum­met­ing with ev­ery­thing we are do­ing for it”. To avoid any doubt, the party leader said that he meant “scan­dals, in­ter­nal squabbles, vot­ing for what peo­ple do not want”.

How­ever, to voice the prob­lem does not mean to solve it. Less than in a week af­ter the congress, new scan­dals and show­downs broke out in the party’s ranks. And on Novem­ber 15, deputies of the rul­ing po­lit­i­cal force de­cided to ex­clude the first two col­leagues from the fac­tion in the Verkhovna Rada: Anna Sko­rokhod and An­ton Polyakov. Iron­i­cally, Polyakov, who had won at a sin­gle-man­date dis­trict, was solemnly in­cluded in the party ranks at Novem­ber 10’s congress. He was pro­posed as a non­party can­di­date.

Tech­no­log­i­cal prob­lems are added to the im­age and com­mon hu­man prob­lems of the Ser­vant of the Peo­ple. The Po­lit­i­cal Party Gen­eral In­for­ma­tion sec­tion of the lat­est quar­terly re­port to the NACP (NAZK, Na­tional Agency on Cor­rup­tion Preven­tion) is blank. There is no in­for­ma­tion ei­ther about the staff or the of­fices at dif­fer­ent lev­els. Com­pared to other po­lit­i­cal forces, the Batkivshch­yna, for ex­am­ple, have sub­mit­ted re­ports of eight dis­trict or­ga­ni­za­tions from only Kryvyi Rih, the na­tive city of Pres­i­dent.

Peo­ple's Deputy Olek­sandr Kachura is re­spon­si­ble for le­gal is­sues in the Ser­vant of the Peo­ple. His law firm was con­cerned with the in­ter­ests of the po­lit­i­cal force and the Kvar­tal 95 brand be­fore the elec­tion. Ac­cord­ing to the deputy, the party reg­is­tered re­gional of­fices in all re­gions in­clud­ing Crimea and Sev­astopol. How­ever, in a con­ver­sa­tion with The Ukrainian Week, he ac­knowl­edges that dis­trict of­fices have not yet cov­ered the en­tire ter­ri­tory. He adds that they are work­ing on changes to their party statutes as well as to the Law on Po­lit­i­cal Par­ties. The idea is pre­sented in the con­text of fur­ther dig­i­ti­za­tion. They say that in the mod­ern world, dis­trict of­fices have be­come ob­so­lete, and party mem­bers can jointly (at least at the oblast level) make de­ci­sions in spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tions with­out pro­to­cols and seals.

Un­der cur­rent law, can­di­dates for lo­cal elec­tions are nom­i­nated by a party of­fice of the ap­pro­pri­ate level. How­ever, they can al­ready take many forms. For ex­am­ple, the form of a le­gal en­tity, and then the of­fice re­ports to the NAPC. Al­ter­na­tively, they may not take the form of a sep­a­rate le­gal en­tity if the party statute so pro­vides. This prac­tice is com­mon among many new po­lit­i­cal par­ties and has been crit­i­cized by the Com­mit­tee of Vot­ers of Ukraine (CVU) for sev­eral rea­sons. First, such of­fices are not ca­pa­ble of con­duct­ing full-fledged eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, and se­condly, this sit­u­a­tion al­lows party lead­er­ship to fully con­trol the events on the ground. “In ac­cor­dance with the leg­is­la­tion, lo­cal party or­ga­ni­za­tions nom­i­nate can­di­dates in lo­cal elec­tions. But since they do not have the sta­tus of le­gal en­ti­ties, they can­not re­ally form and ap­prove the list of can­di­dates”, — he CVU noted two years ago. In other words, can­di­dates are ap­proved where the main seal is stored.

You can un­der­stand the de­sire of the Ser­vant of the Peo­ple to con­trol the sit­u­a­tion on the ground. Dur­ing the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, they took great pains to se­lect 400 can­di­dates who did not bury the po­lit­i­cal force at once with their rep­u­ta­tion. The first scan­dals in this mot­ley crew be­gan in a month of joint work. How­ever, dur­ing the midterm elec­tions for the JTC (Joint Ter­ri­to­rial Com­mu­ni­ties) on 22 and 29 De­cem­ber 2019, the party nom­i­nated about 1,800 can­di­dates. Ac­cord­ing to David Arachamia, about 150,000 can­di­dates will have to be found for the gen­eral lo­cal elec­tions. To bury the sexy-rat­ing of the Ser­vant of the Peo­ple, there will be enough hun­dreds of peo­ple with frankly tar­nished rep­u­ta­tions. The only chance is to try and fix the sit­u­a­tion at least to some ex­tent in the man­ual cor­rec­tion mode.

How­ever, this ap­proach must some­how be com­bined with the­ses on de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion and peo­ple power. “It is no se­cret that all par­ties in power in Ukraine have ex­pe­ri­enced the same. They started on the hopes of the peo­ple, very nicely and ac­tively, and six months later they turned into the CPSU. “No mat­ter what party you are go­ing to make, you will get the CPSU in the end”, — one Rus­sian politi­cian once said. And that is un­for­tu­nately true”, said Kornienko dur­ing his speech at the Novem­ber congress. The main rea­son for the fall of the CPSU was the dec­la­ra­tion of democ­racy un­der full in­ter­nal dic­ta­tor­ship. The “Ser­vants” will have to at least par­tially solve the dif­fi­cult equa­tion: at the same time to main­tain a demo­cratic im­age and con­trol over lo­cal af­fairs on the ground. They may even show an ac­cept­able re­sult in lo­cal elec­tions. The for­mer rul­ing party BPP (Bloc Pe­tra Poroshenka) suc­ceeded in this at its worst times. How­ever, lo­cal races in 2020 will clearly show that the meme of 73% is hope­lessly ob­so­lete.



All power to smart­phones! De­spite the con­stant scan­dals due to the care­less com­mu­ni­ca­tion, The Ser­vant of the Peo­ple prom­ises to deepen dig­i­tal­iza­tion

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