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Ukrainian populism before elections: Tariffs, salaries and even ecology issues

Author : Olena Holubeva

Source : 112 Ukraine

Parliamentary and presidential elections will take place in Ukraine very soon. The number of people wishing to run for presidency is record high, and it is obvious that there will be no fewer participants in the struggle for seats in parliament. The peculiarity of the current situation is that the programs and slogans of current politicians have even less concrete than before, and the main bets are made on manipulation - to lower gas prices several times, raise salaries to dizzying heights, solve environmental problems momentarily and so on
21:36, 21 January 2019

Open source

The voters in the current conditions of a low standard of living and social tension are very emotional. It is very important for Ukrainians to change their approach at the current elections and evaluate candidates rationally, experts say. According to them, it is important not only to delve into election programs, but also to analyze them from the point of view of real deadlines: some issues, such as, for example, the acute and burning environmental issue, cannot be solved in one day whatever the politicians say or promise.

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The noise of election slogans and promises becomes louder and louder day by day. In the conditions of the election campaign that has already begun, the parties and candidates are ready to resort to various methods in order to please the voter.

The situation is complicated by the fact that voters are still guided by emotions. "People with a low standard of living (and now the standard of living of the majority is really very low) are guided by emotions at polling stations. No one reads the programs. They choose their candidate according to the principle: whether they like him or not, does he say pleasant or unpleasant things and whether he is appointed guilty for the difficulties in people’s lives (huge gas tariffs, utility bills). People in Ukraine choose with emotions, satisfying their basic needs. For this reason, the politicians are happy to use all the methods of manipulation with the consciousness of the person ", said the psychologist, member of the European Professional Psychotherapeutic League Natalia Kukhtina. In Ukraine, political programs are being written only for the Central Election Commission, for journalists and experts. But for the mass voter this is not the main thing, ordinary people remember things differently. The voter is now keenly responding to the topics of tariffs, war and peace, wages and pensions, agrees political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko.

According to Kukhtina, the peculiarity of the current situation in Ukraine is that the tension and degree of outrage of people are incredibly high: "And therefore, the loudest person will have the highest chances of becoming elected. People would perceive him as a man who understands their bad situation. But again, it's just emotions and civil irresponsibility."

In the struggle for voter sympathies, politicians now use the themes of wages and pensions, corruption, promises to reduce utility tariffs. The issue of ecology is also becoming more and more popular, because environmental promises have already become a trend in Ukrainian politics. “Some areas where the environmental issue is super popular are Kryvyi Rih, Zaporizhya, Mariupol. There candidates who raise these environmental issues get the maximum electoral dividend,” says political analyst Vitaly Kulyk.

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At the same time, candidates are often limited to political statements, and they do not resort to concrete steps to improve the environment. "The candidates will write that they work on the situation to improve the environment, and so on. In fact, they are limited to general phrases and do not pay much attention to the content of these phrases," political analyst Kost Bondarenko said. "The theme of ecology consists of long-playing issues that cannot be solved in one day. This is air pollution, in particular, the issue of continuous monitoring of the level of pollution by industrial enterprises. Also, we have the problem of water pollution due to poor-quality cleaning of both domestic and industrial effluents", emphasized Anna Tarantsova.

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For example, one political party chose the theme of ecology as a pre-election slogan. In the autumn, this political force presented its environmental program in Kryvyi Rih, organized environmental protests in Mariupol, Kryvyi Rih and Zaporizhya, exaggerated the topic in the media. However, after about 40-50 people came to the eco-meetings, the topic has calmed down.

Experts agree that it is unlikely that environmental rhetoric will greatly add points to politicians. In addition to the usual pre-election populism we must look for traces of the business component in these ecology issues, the experts advised. Especially when it comes to front-line industrial regions, where the country's largest metallurgical plants operate.

Experts note that, for example, the environmental situation in Mariupol has not worsened lately, but activists’ actions took place at the start of the election race.

“In the world politics, the commercial attitude to ecology dominates now: the topic is exploited in commercial interests, these issues are raised when you need to close a project, harm competitors. Ukrainian politicians they will also use ecology mainly in the same direction. And also the populist rhetoric like "your city is dirty - I will clean it up" will sound”, said the director of the Institute for Strategic Studies "New Ukraine", Andriy Yermolaev.

However, political consultants are confident that politicians who have made the ecology their election feature will not be able to go far with this topic. "The topic of ecology is relevant for rich countries, for which the question of elementary survival (as in Ukraine) is not urgent. Ecology in general does not bother anyone in a country where important question is “How can I can buy bread and pay for electricity," said the political technologist Serhiy Gaidai.

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Although the issue of ecology is really important for the country, it’s still necessary to look in some different directions, which are not so popular among the politicians. "The destruction of forests happens due to bad forest management; forests are not restored and lose biological stability (the area of forests affected by pests and diseases is constantly increasing). And valuable tree species (oak, beech and pine) are replaced by low-value (hornbeam, birch, aspen). The most difficult situation we have in the Carpathians: due to forest degradation, soil erosion and landslide processes are developing. One of the points to solve this problem can be mandatory certification of forestry and companies producing wood goods in accordance with international certification systems, for example, according to the Forest Stewardship Council standard. For example, it is impossible to sell uncertified wood or wood goods in EU countries: forestry is conducted in accordance with strict rules and regulations. In Ukraine, only those enterprises that export wood and wood goods to Europe are certified so far,” said Anna Tarantsova.

One of the central issues in the field of ecology is a waste management. On these issue, we need to harmonize with European legislation and gradually implement the relevant laws in Ukraine. "The issue of streamlining the waste management sphere is particularly acute, as in practice no significant breakthroughs in this area have occurred in recent years. The waste is still being taken to overcrowded landfills, and the responsibility has been introduced at the legislative level, but in practice it does not work, separate collection of garbage is present only at the level of small pilot projects and private initiatives. The handling of hazardous waste, in particular with batteries, electronics, is still not streamlined. Nevertheless, at the legislative level, the Cabinet approved the National Waste Management Strategy (from hazardous to agricultural) as well as the National Waste Management Plan. Now, according to these documents, national legislation should be developed. This includes specific waste laws, but the current parliament is unlikely to have time to vote for them," said Anna Tarantsova.

At the same time, voters should be careful and rational, not rely on beautiful slogans, and also carefully read the electoral programs of the parties. "Voters should adequately evaluate the candidates' electoral programs and be aware that this is essentially a contract. If the program does not spell out specific steps with clear deadlines for their implementation, then, accordingly, there is nothing to ask for. The program is a set of labor duties of the candidate. It should have not only the clear steps, actions, parameters, but also specific deadlines in which they will be implemented. If this algorithm is missing, then there is no need to support such a candidate, "said political adviser Ruslan Bortnyk.

It is very important that the Ukrainian voter begins to work with his beliefs, rearranges his own expectations and leaves aside the myth of a good king who will come and make our life happy, says Natalia Kukhtina. Although being rational in your choice is very difficult when you have the empty pockets, she added.

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