In the wake of Ukraine’s February 2010 presidential election, there are three major questions that need to be addressed before a comprehensive picture of Ukraine’s “post-Orange” future can be developed:
- What methods will Ukraine’s new leadership use to improve statewide governance?
- Is there a real threat that democratic institutions and freedoms will erode?
- What regional and foreign policy implications can be expected?
On the eve of Ukraine’s last several elections (2004 presidential, 2006 and 2007 parliamentary), observers typically described elections in breathtaking terms: “decisive,” “crucial,” “the final battle.” However, this year’s presidential election confirms the truism that if a democratic order is in place, nothing in politics is final: every decisive election is followed by another just as decisive as the one before. No politician in the foreseeable future will be able to overcome the natural heterogeneity of the Ukrainian nation. Ukrainian-speaking leaders may be replaced by native Russian-speaking ones; NATO enthusiasts may be defeated by those who advocate neutrality; people in power who feel themselves comfortable in Moscow may lose to those who feel at home in Brussels. In 2004, one might have thought that the “heroes of the maidan [square]” were going to be in power forever. Now, one might be forgiven for thinking they have been defeated for good. Realistically, nobody in Ukraine will permanently win or lose so long as democratic political competition exists. [...]