So, the second round of the presidential elections in Ukraine is over, and Volodymyr Zelensky unseats incumbent Petro Poroshenko. People talked about wrote about him a lot, but, unfortunately, he himself kept silent until the very day of the debates at Olimpiysky stadium. Therefore, we cannot give accurate predictions about his policy; still, there are some assumptions and conclusions.
So what can we expect from president Zelensky?
The program of Volodymyr Zelensky begins with the words “Let me tell you about the Ukraine of my dreams.” The new Ukrainian president dreams about a country where a citizen can open a business in an hour, get a passport in 15 minutes, and vote in elections for a second.
According to him, doctors and teachers should receive a real salary, pensioners should have a decent retirement, and corrupt officials should do a nickel. However, there are no mechanisms for implementing this. As there is no possibility for the president to directly intervene in the payment of salaries and pensions: Ukraine is a semi-presidential republic, that is, the powers of the head of state are rather limited. Anyway, the main direction of presidential activity is foreign policy.
Zelensky has voiced some theses on this point. For example, to end the Donbas war, to return the temporarily occupied territories, to force Russia to compensate for the damage. Zelensky has nothing against Ukraine’s NATO and EU aspirations; he supports this idea, but he believes that joining any associations should be decided in an all-Ukrainian referendum.
The program also enshrines the first bill that Zelensky intends to submit to the parliament – “On government by the people.” He intends institutionalizing a mechanism by which Ukrainians would form the main tasks for the government through referendums and other forms of direct democracy. In addition, everything is planned to be done with the maximum use of the latest technologies, there are no details.
In his program, Zelensky promises to also lift immunity from the president, MPs, and judges of Ukraine.
Zelensky revealed some things in his recent interview. For example, he is not against abortions and believes that this is a personal opinion of everyone. Zelensky is not an adversary of legalization of medical marijuana. But the future president does not support the legalization of weapons.
So, according to some experts, Zelensky can start with a few steps:
- Settlement of Donbas conflict and return of Crimea, in particular, by strengthening the Normandy format, joining the United States and the UK. But no one will conduct direct dialogue with the leaders of the temporarily occupied territories.
- Reform of the Presidential Administration. Zelensky's team believes that the Administration should play the role of the office and the body that develops new ideas for this.
- To conduct an “audit” of Ukraine with the help of international experts.
Foreign policy causes a lot of questions. Zelensky met with President of France Emmanuel Macron, French Ambassador to Ukraine Isabelle Dumont, and the head of the IMF representative office in Ukraine Goesta Ljungman. The future president spoke very positively about all these meetings.
At the same time, the very future head of the country does not have to participate in all processes personally. With proper selection of team members, strong ministers, and competent advisors, part of the work can be safely put onto their shoulders. Nevertheless, the search for these most priceless frames is a complex matter and requires experience.
Of course, there are completely negative forecasts. Basically, they are built on the thesis that Zelensky is not just inexperienced but also depends entirely on his patron, oligarch Igor Kolomoysky. The statements of both sides that they have no relation to each other, of course, are not quite convincing. Some analysts believe that the coming to power of Zelensky will have nothing in common with the cleansing of Ukrainian politics from oligarchic systems because his “patron” is part of them. Even if Zelensky wants to become a truly independent president, he simply does not have enough resources to do this, some experts believe. Without his own political power, which Volodymyr Zelensky does not currently have in parliament, he will need figures like Kolomoysky to make all the important decisions.
Also, some analysts predict Ukraine’s a step back in the economy if, for example, Kolomoysky’s PrivatBank would be turned to him back.
There are those who believe that Zelensky will hold on in his new office for a year or a year and a half. Basically just because he has no experience: neither economic, nor diplomatic, nor military.
No matter what, and whatever the experts and analysts say, only time will tell the real picture.