MOSCOW, May 26 (RIA Novosti), Nastassia Astrasheuskaya – Ukraine’s May 25 election, regardless of its outcome, will require the country’s new president to tackle large-scale reforms to reverse the public discontent that triggered the February protests, Dr. Nadiya Kravets of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University told RIA Novosti Monday.
“Ukraine is in the process of fundamentally restructuring and hopefully improving its basic political and economic institutions,” Kravets said.
“February events were the beginning of a revolution, now the movement or momentum is to transform those institutions that for years have contributed to unstable, corrupt and inefficient government, and outdated economy which led to the popular uprisings in the first place. That is the new mandate for the president,” Kravets explained, adding that the country’s new leader must reform government institutions, fight corruption and revitalize the economy.
“Institutional reform that will require constitutional changes. There is a great demand among Ukrainian now for more local self-governance. Most Ukrainians, as polls show, want Ukraine to be unitary state but with greater autonomy for local decision-making and greater say over finances and taxation,” she said, pointing to the need to balance the powers of parliament and the president as separate branches of government.
“The question remains if there will be enough political will by the current president to move more power to the parliament and whether the parliament will be strengthened enough by the civil society and new parties to make policies in the name of all the different constituents and not just selected few oligarchs,” she added.
Kravets cited corruption as one of the core motivations of the crisis in Ukraine, irrespective of the political affiliations of the protesting citizens.
“The fight with corruption was the biggest reason why Euromaidan revolution happened. It was not about EU, Russia or Eurasian Union, but about the state of development of the courtly and corruption. President’s priorities in regards to this will be the ‘cleansing of the government,’ removal of officials who engage or engaged in corruption and billing of the institutions that limit systemic corruption,” she said.
Amanda Paul of European Policy Center echoed the opinion that the May 25 election would lead to massive reform.
“The election result opens the way to move ahead with important constitutional reform including related to decentralization of the regions as well as paving the way for early parliamentary elections before the end of the year,” she told RIA Novosti on Monday.
No less important is the question of legitimacy, a quality the current interim authorities in Kiev hardly enjoy, according to Dr. Kravets of the Ukrainian Research Institute.
“Yes, elections are a turning point for the Ukrainian crisis, since it will bring more legitimacy to the current government. The recent poll undertaken by the Razumkov Center together with the Kiev International Institute of Sociology showed that a significant percent of the population in the eastern and southern parts of the country doubted the legitimacy of the current acting President Turchynov and the head of the government Yatseniuk,” she stated, concluding that “the elections will definitely improve government legitimacy at home and will also improve legitimacy abroad.”
Her outlook was mirrored by Amanda Paul, who said “the election is important because it has provided Ukraine with a legitimate, democratically elected leader.”