Ukraine’s presidential elections 2019 have already broken several bad records. The desire to stay in power, or the aspiration to come to power, have encouraged Ukrainian politicians to use tools that are impressive in their perfidy and cynicism.
Danger # 1: Separating society and deepening the crisis of confidence
Ukrainian politicians have been always trying to divide the country for their own political purposes. Nearly all the presidential campaigns have been using the things that separate us; for example, remember the team of fugitive Viktor Yanukovych, who divided Ukrainians into “sorts” in 2004.
All Ukrainian power regimes failed to reach success in reforms or foreign policy, and therefore they chose issues that could quickly divide the country. The political technologists used history issues, language, foreign policy, ideology, sexual orientation, and so on.
The lack of political determination to introduce the necessary reforms, structural modernization of the economy force the politicians to focus on emotions and populism instead of rationality and responsibility, on constant cleavages instead of unity. Such politicians did not behave like statesmen.
In this presidential campaign, we have faced a new wave of artificially stirring up hostility and division of society. It was provoked by the so-called “bot farms,” which institutionalized insults, contempt, and threats as a certain norm and rule.
These “bots,” together with the propaganda from the oligarch-controlled TV channels, brought us closer to the worst Russian practices, where black is always spoken in white and vice versa. Unfortunately, the majority of Ukrainians have bought into these technologies.
Crumby holywars between uninformed citizens who repeat the propaganda-like information, instead of knowing the arguments. Social violence and the social mutual rivalry became acceptable.
This means that chances for new political leaders, for new projects are falling. People who do not trust each other are not capable of creating something in common.
Danger # 2: Self-discredit of the authorities
Having lost their own detachment and declared support for a particular candidate, the authorities have actually… ceased to be authorities! I mean church institutions, expert, and state institutions. Taking part in an administrative resource for them means undermining their reputation and trust.
An anti-corruption activist who supports corrupt officials is like an environmental activist who supports an oil company.
On the one hand, the fall of some authorities opens the way to the formation of the new ones, and on the other hand, society is doomed to focus on itself for the time of their search.
Danger # 3: Emotions instead of thinking
Presidential campaign 2019 can be called quite an intuitive one. The key arguments for voting for this or that candidate are “I like/dislike him,” “I trust/do not trust him,” “I know less / more about compromising information about him.”
In order to make a conscious choice, voters have to read the election program, the main statements, evaluate candidate’s promises and his real deeds, learn his electronic declarations and financial reports of his party, etc.
Many criticize one of the candidates for incompetence, although they themselves are very incompetent in assessing state and political processes. Others criticize one of the candidates for dishonesty, although they themselves cannot be called an example of a virtuous life. Many people have become more tolerant of corruption in the army, sabotage of reforms, lies, violation of the law, and aggression of the others.
Danger # 4: Irresponsible manipulation of threats
On the eve of the elections, it was clear that several campaign agendas are possible. The authorities wanted to focus on some abstract foreign policy issues, and the opposition emphasized the specific failures in reforms or the fight against corruption.
Obviously, Donbas war, corruption, and poverty were the three key problems and threats to the state. This was especially clear after the introduction of martial law and the scandal with Ukroboronprom State Concern, which supervises defense industry production facilities.
And instead of discussing the recipes for countering threats to the state, the electoral agenda has slipped into the manipulation of these threats. Instead of proposing plans to counter the Russian aggression, some candidates began to label their opponents as “Kremlin’s agents.”
Danger # 5: Direct calls for the physical elimination of the opponents
Disrespect and rejection of the choice of the majority of the Ukrainians entailed not only personal deep insults, but also some appeals in the face of Ayder Muzhdabayev (pro-Poroshenko “journalist,” who called to execute Zelensky’s electorate by shooting, - ed.).
Is it normal to voice calls, hang billboards (Poroshenko used billboards, standing face-to-face with Putin, meaning that Ukrainians should not vote for Zelensky because Zelensky aequalis Putin, - ed.) or share video (Poroshenko’s team created video, where candidate Zelensky is killed by a truck, - ed.) with elements of violence. And this is after the deaths of Heaven’s Hundred Heroes and death of thousands of Ukrainians in Donbas.
To unleash a civil war or any other scenario of forceful combat following the results of the presidential elections is the biggest dream and the greatest gift to the Russian aggressor. Chaos and destabilization are not beneficial for Ukraine.
Only fair elections and respect for their results will be another step towards Ukraine’s European aspirations.