Irina S. Khmelko
This article contributes to the discussion of regionalism in Ukraine and its role in Ukrainian politics. Ukraine presents a rather unique case in postcommunist history, where the presence of a large Russian ethnic group has not been associated with any major clashes between Russian and Ukrainian ethnic groups, as in the majority of other post-communist countries. In search for an explanation of this rather unique regional development, this article analyzes dynamics of post-communist political institution building and the structure of legislative representation. It argues that the electoral connection can provide useful insight in this matter. Specifically, this article focuses on presence and work of the Parliamentary Party Groups (PPGs) in Ukraine. Ukrainian PPGs have regional connections, but these are more connections to economic or financial groups than ethnic electoral connections to regional groups. The article looks at the PPG recruitment patterns, including the dynamics of recruiting members from large enterprises.
Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russians played central roles in USSR politics. But the collapse of this bloc at the end of the 20th century led to a significant change in the history of Russia and Russians in the fifteen post-communist countries. The majority of the post-communist countries had a significant number of ethnic Russians, and the fall of the Communist regime was followed by a number of conflicts over the role of ethnic Russian groups in new post-communist societies and the roles of these groups in post-communist politics. Ethnic groups within the post-communist countries celebrated independence from Russia. Nationalistic ethnic groups claimed their rights to national rebirth and reestablishment of their ethnic identities. Russians frequently got blamed for the process of russification of these and other ethnic groups. In some cases, conflicts assumed violent forms, such as the one in Georgia. Russians moved their military forces to Ossetia, claiming the need to protect ethnic Russians there and accusing the Georgian government of genocide. In some other instances Russians were subject to velvet deportation, such as in Latvia. Russians claimed that they were denied citizenship because of discriminatory laws. As a result, they experienced troubles with property rights or with gaining legal employment. The general regional trend in post-communist countries has been towards harsh ethnic clashes between national and Russian ethnic groups.
Ukraine, however, presents an interesting example of a rather peaceful coexistence between Ukrainian and Russian ethnic groups. Despite very similar legacies that Ukraine has in common with the rest of the postcommunist countries, it has been managing relations between two major ethnic groups – Russian and Ukrainians – differently than the other postcommunist countries. The question, then, is what factors contribute to this development in Ukraine?
While recognizing that relations among ethnic groups are complicated and a number of factors can contribute to one or another development, this paper looks at the Ukrainian political process and, specifically, the dynamics of legislative representation, in search for answers. The article also addresses the role of relations among main ethnic groups inside the political process. The premise of the article is that institutions set up a framework for inter-ethnic relations. Through the analysis of the system of legislative representation in Ukraine during last two decades, the paper indicates that the form of inter-ethnic relations and the degree of conflict depends in large part on the national institutions and on the characteristics of the political process. The paper argues that the differences between Ukraine and the other post-communist countries result to a large extent from the nature of the political institutions in Ukraine and specifically from the dynamics of legislative representation in Ukraine. This article analyzes the dynamics of Parliamentary Party Group (PPG) formation, their regional connections, and patterns of regional representation in the legislature.
The Role of Political Institutions
Political institutions play a primary role in defining the forms of conflict among ethnic groups. One of the major concepts postulates that „political institutions and decision rules can make a major difference in ethnic outcomes.” The literature on political institutions has found that political institutions play such an important role because they structure the political process, determining what political groups get to participate, what actions they can take, who gets to use what resources, and what the rewards and punishments are for each action.
The literature further identifies the role of historical legacies in structuring conflicts among ethnic groups. As with any social movement, nationalistic ethnic groups that want to pursue objectives related to national rebirth are likely to unite against a common enemy. Russian ethnic groups present an easy target in this instance. Building political institutions around national ethnic groups and excluding Russians is therefore a likely scenario in this case.
Generally, the political underrepresentation of specific groups such as ethnic minorities is increasingly being seen as a problem of legitimacy and effectiveness within the democratic political system. The underrepresentation of ethnic minorities, for example, may lead to alienation and provoke secession, while the inclusion of minorities in politics can help to prevent the fuelling of ethnic conflicts.
The political opportunity structure8 has a decisive impact on the political behavior of ethnic minorities and could predict differences in ethnic representation between countries as well as differences between ethnic groups within the same country. Furthermore, the institutional framework defines the possible recruitment and career paths of elites existing in a certain society. Among the main institutional constraints for ethnic parliamentary representation are the electoral and party systems.
The electoral system plays an important role in ethnic inclusion into politics. Following Duverger’s hypotheses, empirical studies confirm that a proportional electoral system supports the increased representation of ethnic minorities, while majoritarian systems tend to exclude these groups from the decision-making process. Furthermore, a proportional electoral system is more appropriate for the accommodation of ethnic conflict. Many East European countries, however, have had mixed electoral systems. Studies showed an intermediate effect of mixed systems on minority representation:they were less representative than proportional systems. Another institutional structure which may negatively influence the representation of ethnic minorities is the party system. In some countries, party laws explicitly forbid the organization of a political party for the purpose of representing certain ethnic groups, as in Russia. According to the law on political parties in Ukraine, ethnic parties can participate in elections. However, it is forbidden for a political party to foment ethnic, religious, or racial discord. In general, a larger magnitude of districts and lower electoral thresholds facilitate parliamentary representation of ethnic minority parties. Although ethnic parties usually obtain only a minority of seats in parliaments, they may become especially influential in the process of policy making, the formation of governing coalitions, and the election of executives. In general, solutions to conflicts among ethnic groups depend on a variety of factors. However, institutions contribute to the process of conflict resolution largely because it is rather difficult to manipulate cultural factors, whereas institutions are more readily changed. The consensus exists that patterns of representation and electoral connection are among the main factors that contribute to the degree of governmental success in dealing with ethnic cleavages. However, ethnic cleavages present just one of many cleavages in post-communist countries. In Ukraine, for example, ethnic cleavages are frequently associated with regional cleavages, and the conflict is frequently described as that between groups from Western and Eastern Ukraine, where the Eastern parts have a large number of ethnic Russians and the Western parts are populated by the groups that identify with nationalistic ideals and pursuit of national rebirth. The question then becomes, who do the groups that compete for power represent? PPGs in all countries have groups of the electorate that are considered to be their base and that can actively support one PPG over another. The following section will address the issue of regionalism in Ukraine, which will be followed by a discussion of PPGs and their electoral connections.
Regionalism in Ukraine
A well-developed body of research addresses the issue of regionalism in Ukraine. Studies analyze how different regional patterns affect the analysis of Ukrainian political behavior. Some of these studies focus on analyzing the process of national consolidation in Ukraine since 1991. Further, the literature discusses the ways to define regional differences. Research points to cleavages between Eastern and Western Ukraine, as a well as dynamics that the Southern region of Ukraine brings to Ukrainian politics. „Generally, analysts draw a line along the Dniper River, dividing the country into a Russified and heavily industrialized East, and a more ethnically Ukrainian, Western-oriented West. The former harbors conservative communists who are ardently against market reforms and desire closer links with Moscow.” The latter is the home to Ukrainian nationalists and assorted national-democrats who seek more rapid political and economic reforms and integration of their country with the West. „This division, many fear, will make it difficult to form a singular, tolerant political community within Ukraine’s borders and will complicate Ukrainian elites’ domestic and foreign policy agendas.”
At the same time, some longitudinal studies argue that the regionalism in Ukraine is either greatly exaggerated or is waning. „Research demonstrates that the Ukrainian electorate is becoming less polarized over time, despite the existence of deep historically-based cleavages in the society.” However, some other authors argue that there is evidence of the persistence of regional patterns in Ukraine.
The research also discusses associations between regionalism and voting patterns. For example, regions appear to better explain vote outcomes for parties of the left and right than for those of the center. Further, „for votes through the first four sessions of the past parliament (1994-95), the F-4 Centre compiled an index of votes along a left-right continuum and for support for economic reform ... The data are striking and largely consistent with what we observed in analysis of public opinion and voting behavior. The divisions between the deputies from the west, on the one hand, and those from the east, south and Crimea, on the other, are acute and statistically significant.”
Ukrainian PPGs represent interests of specific groups in a society. In the following sections, we will review briefly the process of Ukrainian PPG formation in early post-community history and provide an analysis of modern PPGs and their electoral connections in detail.
PPG Development During Early Post-Communist Transition
Ukraine gained its independence from the Soviet Union and began its transition toward a democratic society in 1991. The process of transition in Ukraine is often referred to as a dual transition, that is, a simultaneous change from a party-dominated governmental regime to a more democratic system, coupled with a rearrangement of economic institutions along marketoriented lines. Studies of the newly independent states have shown that party system development is among the most difficult processes for the former Soviet states. Ukraine is no exception. After decades of political repression under totalitarian Communism Party rule, „party” and „party member” are more commonly hurled as epithets than they are embraced or praised by the citizenry. Those partisan entities that do exist in Ukraine are based more on personality than they are on ideological differences or social cleavage structures. Existing research has documented that PPGs in the former Soviet states more closely resemble pre-party elite groups and cliques than they do political parties, and often are perceived by citizens as types of mafia organizations. This was certainly the case during the collapse of the communist regimes throughout the old Soviet bloc and has remained so through the first decade after communism. Whether it is „political clubs” and „political tourism” in the Czech Republic, „exaggerated” fragmentation in Hungary, „continual turmoil” in Poland, or an „anti-party attitude” in Estonia, the newly independent post-communist states have highly unstable partisan environments. This instability is very evident in Ukraine, just as it is across the entire post-communist region. The Ukrainian multi-party system began its development right after Ukrainian independence. By 1994, Ukraine had developed a multi-party system with 40 parties registered nationally and 15 represented in the parliament, of which 10 have been led by the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada (VR). The Verkhovna Rada of the first convocation was elected according to the majoritarian system in a one-party environment. Still, 120 deputies without party affiliation were elected to that parliament. The second convocation of the Ukrainian parliament was elected according to the majoritarian system as well, but in a multi-party environment. The VR established nine parliamentary groups and factions at the beginning of the convocation. Recognizing the need to strengthen factions in the parliament, the VR of the 3rd convocation was elected according to the 50-50% proportional-majoritarian system. Proportional system of representation has been introduced later to strengthen the role of PPGs in the legislative process. Although the parliament after the 1998 elections had identifiable left and right factions, with identifiable ideologies, many factions in the middle did not fit any particular ideology. Many deputies who formally belonged to center factions voted according to particular issues, rather than as a block.
Political blocs in the VR exhibit clear differences in their political behavior. Thus, the left, which became the dominant political bloc in the elections of 1994, was „voting together more consistently than any other coalition or factions.” The right, however, „remains far more disaggregated, and has trouble coalescing into a bloc that votes consistently on issues” „In the middle are the bulk of the deputies, who do not vote in a highly consistent ideological or issueoriented pattern.” The situation had been changing gradually since those first elections. Today, the left is losing its dominant position in the parliament, although it remains primary among the influential groups in the parliament.
Modern Parliamentary Party Groups in the Ukrainian Parliament (PPGs)
Ukrainian PPG development in the parliament is rather unique to the region. Although some groups have Ukrainian National Rebirth as a part of their legislative agenda, the groups themselves are formed based on principles which do not necessarily involve nationalism. In many post-communist parliaments there are groups that represent Russian ethnic groups and those against them. Ukrainian PPGs are formed on other principles, such as regional, clannish, or economic concerns. There are no legislators who identify themselves as representing Western or Eastern Ukraine. However, there are deputies from PPGs, such as the Party of Regions, the Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko, and the Communist Party.
Modern PPGs in the Rada were well-established by November 2007. The PPG of Regions has been the largest one (172 members in September 2010). Yulia Tymoshenko’s Bloc (BYT) has been the second largest PPG for a long time (124 members in November 2010). „Our Ukraine” has been the third largest PPG (72 members), and it has been followed by the Communists (27 members), and Lytvin’s PPG (20 members). There were legislators without PPG affiliation in September 2010. The process of PPG formation provides an insight into the process of representation, i.e. whose interests they represent and what role regional distinctions play. The Party of Regions was created in March 2001 from the unification of five parties. The majority of its members are from Eastern Ukraine and specifically the Donbas region. Viktor Yanukovych, former Prime Minister and current president of Ukraine and the leader of Regions, had been a head of the Donetsk clan’s Party of Regions. The Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc is named after its leader, the former deputy prime minister for fuel and energy under Viktor Yushchenko during his term as Prime Minister. The Fatherland / Motherland [Batkivshchyna] Party, the main member of this bloc, was founded by Yulia Tymoshenko in 1999. Some of the legislators in this group are from Western Ukraine or articulate ideas of national rebirth to a certain extent. This group has been known for its connections with the oil and gas industries. „Our Ukraine,” led by the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, was formed in January 2001 and united nine political parties. The „Our Ukraine” bloc is most closely associated with the Orange Revolution and clearly articulated ideals of National Rebirth. Before early parliamentary election in 2007, the „Our Ukraine” bloc had been reorganized into the Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defense Bloc. The Communist Party, although it was the largest faction in the Rada in 2001 (112 members), won only 27 seats in the 2007 parliamentary elections. When the Communist Party was reregistered in 1993, Petro Symonenko was elected the party’s leader. As GlobalSecurity.org reports, the CPU had on occasion served Kuchma’s interests, which opened it to charges of opportunism, but after 1999 is took a firm oppositional stance. In 2000, the Communist Party split into two factions, one of which, the Communist Part of Ukraine (renewed) under the leadership of Mykhailo Savenko, had pro-presidential orientation. The other faction remained under the leadership of Petro Symonenko, representing anti-market, anti-American and pro-Russian ideology.
The process of forming PPGs is an important explanatory factor in discussing ethnic group relations. Since the 2006 parliamentary elections, the deputies have been chosen from party lists. The majority of them are loyal party members who will vote along party or group lines. Some of them are relatives of prominent politicians and businessmen. PPGs usually do not allow them to offer public statements on controversial issues. This group, therefore, avoids fueling ethnic tensions by the mere fact of their media silence. The other kind of PPG consists of the representatives of the financial and political groups, who bought seats for their members. Usually, these groups consist of at least five members to make a difference in the legislative process and in order to ensure that their business interests would be protected. Finally, there are millionaires who bought a place for the sake of prestige. They are not ideologically charged and do not represent anyone’s interests. Fueling ethnic tensions or contributing to any actions concerning active prosecution of the Russian ethnic group equals political suicide in Ukraine because it undermines the interests of major economic groups in Ukraine. Former president Yuschenko supported groups that were known for their active and at times violent persecution of Russians. His popularity ratings went down quickly and he lost the election to the current Ukrainian president Yanokovich, who ran on a more moderate platform with clearly articulated tolerance toward ethnic Russians. Although many factors contributed to this election outcome, some scholars argue that ethnic questions and nationalism were the most significant contributing factors in Yuschencko’s defeat. Content analysis of party platforms demonstrates an absence of nationalistic ideas, as in case of the Communists, or near-absence of said ideas, as in the case of Regions and Our Ukraine. BYT has more language devoted to the National idea in comparison to the other parties, but it is still at a very low level.
Some researchers argue that legislators follow the lead of PPG leadership in their voting. As soon as their party loses power, the representatives of business interests and millionaires immediately switch to the ruling coalition, which guarantees their business acceptable conditions (Teleshun 2008). Well-described in the literature, party switching indicates an absence of stable ideological preferences regarding ethnic group relations. This can be explained by the dynamics of the electoral process in Ukraine and the electoral connections in Rada’s PPGs. Research conducted by Ukrainian political scientists conclusively demonstrates that Rada’s PPGs represent powerful business groups. Groups can be from East or West of Ukraine, but their primary concern is profit. Therefore, ethnic and nationalistic ideas can serve as an impediment to their main objective.
The next part of the article analyzes the composition and recruitment strategies of the main PPGs in the Verkhovna Rada, taking into account the regional factor. For the empirical analysis of parliamentary representation, we use the data set collected in the Framework of EurElite Project (financial support: European Science Foundation Scientific Network), led by University of Jena.
Regional Distinctions in the Recruitment Strategies of the Modern PPGs
The population of Ukraine has steadily increased from more than 32 million people in 1959 to approximately 37.5 million people in 2001. The number of ethnic Russians in Ukraine increased during the Soviet period, reaching almost 11 million in 1989. In the now-independent Ukraine, the would be protected. Finally, there are millionaires who bought a place for the sake of prestige. They are not ideologically charged and do not represent anyone’s interests. Fueling ethnic tensions or contributing to any actions concerning active prosecution of the Russian ethnic group equals political suicide in Ukraine because it undermines the interests of major economic groups in Ukraine. Former president Yuschenko supported groups that were known for their active and at times violent persecution of Russians. His popularity ratings went down quickly and he lost the election to the current Ukrainian president Yanokovich, who ran on a more moderate platform with clearly articulated tolerance toward ethnic Russians. Although many factors contributed to this election outcome, some scholars argue that ethnic questions and nationalism were the most significant contributing factors in Yuschencko’s defeat. Content analysis of party platforms demonstrates an absence of nationalistic ideas, as in case of the Communists, or near-absence of said ideas, as in the case of Regions and Our Ukraine. BYT has more language devoted to the National idea in comparison to the other parties, but it is still at a very low level.
Some researchers argue that legislators follow the lead of PPG leadership in their voting. As soon as their party loses power, the representatives of business interests and millionaires immediately switch to the ruling coalition, which guarantees their business acceptable conditions (Teleshun 2008). Well-described in the literature, party switching indicates an absence of stable ideological preferences regarding ethnic group relations. This can be explained by the dynamics of the electoral process in Ukraine and the electoral connections in Rada’s PPGs. Research conducted by Ukrainian political scientists conclusively demonstrates that Rada’s PPGs represent powerful business groups. Groups can be from East or West of Ukraine, but their primary concern is profit. Therefore, ethnic and nationalistic ideas can serve as an impediment to their main objective. The next part of the article analyzes the composition and recruitment strategies of the main PPGs in the Verkhovna Rada, taking into account the regional factor. For the empirical analysis of parliamentary representation, we use the data set collected in the Framework of EurElite Project (financial support: European Science Foundation Scientific Network), led by University of Jena.
Regional Distinctions in the Recruitment Strategies of the Modern PPGs
The population of Ukraine has steadily increased from more than 32 million people in 1959 to approximately 37.5 million people in 2001. The number of ethnic Russians in Ukraine increased during the Soviet period, reaching almost 11 million in 1989. In the now-independent Ukraine, the different types of political experience before their recruitment into the Verkhovna Rada. Ukrainian candidates who were active at the local or regional level are recruited particularly often in Eastern Ukraine (52%), whereas their average proportion has been as high as 32% among party list MPs. In contrast, titular MPs holding leading party positions are well represented among partylist MPs (50%) and MPs from Western Ukraine (36%). Concerning preparliamentary experience of ethnic MPs, 30% of Russians elected in Eastern Ukraine held a leading party position, and 25% were politically active at the local or regional state level before their parliamentary recruitment. Among Russian MPs elected per party lists, 42% were withdrawn from political parties, and almost 30% were politically active at the regional level. Obviously, party channels remain one of the most important paths into national politics. The Communist Party continued the Soviet tradition of recruiting the highest proportion of party leaders in both ethnic (45%) and titular groups (64%). On average, more than 40% of MPs affiliated with the Party of Regions, Fatherland and Our Ukraine PPGs gained political experience as party leaders. The regional connections of candidates appear to be an important factor for the main political parties. Approximately onethird of the Ukrainian parliamentarians from the Communists, Our Ukraine and Fatherland blocs have had leading political positions at the local or regional level; among MPs from Party of Regions it was even as high as 40%. From the main political parties, only the Party of Regions recruited the same proportion of local and regional politicians with minority backgrounds (approximately 40%).
Another important recruitment factor is the occupational background of parliamentarians. This parameter shows relations between the main PPGs and regions in Ukrainian politics. Both Western and Eastern Ukraine actively recruited Ukrainian managers and businessmen from large enterprises. Their proportion rapidly increased, especially in Western Ukraine (50%). Titular high-ranking civil servants were not differently represented among parliamentarians in the Western and Eastern Ukraine (approximately 24%). Professional party employees were recruited particularly often in Western Ukraine. Their average proportion was exactly 13% in Western Ukraine and only 4% in Eastern Ukraine. Among Ukrainian party list MPs, one quarter of MPs were from political organizations and the same proportion were from business. The third occupational group which is well-recruited by political parties is high-ranking civil servants (15%).
The occupational profiles of Russian MPs look similar to those of Ukrainian MPs representing the same professional groups. Managers were particularly well represented among MPs elected in the Eastern Ukrainian parts (42%) and party list MPs (35%). Increasingly more Russians who held high-ranking civil service positions before their recruitment have been elected into parliament (13%). The only difference between ethnic party list and ethnic SMD parliamentarians was the recruitment of professional politicians who preferred to be elected through a proportional system (23%) and not through a majoritarian one (4%).
Regarding the occupational backgrounds of candidates, the Ukrainian parliament is dominated by three professional groups: businessmen, professional party employees, and high-ranking civil servants. Almost one-third of Russian and Ukrainian parliamentarians were businessmen or managers of large and mid-sized enterprises immediately before their election. The proportion of economic elites among the MPs has increased progressively, particularly among the Russians. Among the Communist parliamentarians, the proportion of businessmen is as high as 23%, both among titular and minority MPs. The most business-friendly PPG is Yanukovich’s Party of Regions. More than 45% of Ukrainian and 50% of Russian parliamentarians nominated by Party of Regions were businessmen and managers before their election. Tymoshenko’s and Yushchenko’s blocs shared the same proportion of economic elites among their Ukrainian MPs (approximately 30%). The increasing recruitment of economic elites into the Ukrainian parliament resulted from the economic changes in Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The reorganization of the Ukrainian economy by President Leonid Kuchma contributed to the creation of new economic elite – oligarchs, who obtained immense power through the founding and financing of political parties. Policy-related professionals are more widespread among Ukrainian MPs than their Russian colleagues. Political parties showed markedly different recruitment patterns of civil servants and party politicians. Whereas Tymoshenko’s bloc recruits more than 30% of Ukrainian party and trade union employees, these career paths are represented at 24% within the parliamentary personnel of other parties. High-ranking civil servants are particularly well represented in the Our Ukraine bloc (20%). Russian MPs with policyrelated professional experience are more often recruited by the Communists. Approximately every fourth Communist MP with an ethnic background worked in a political party or in a trade union before his or her election into the Verkhovna Rada. The Party of Regions recruits on average 12% professional party politicians and 17% high-ranking civil servants with Russian ethnic backgrounds. The recruitment of MPs with occupational backgrounds in policy-associated areas distinguished Ukraine from other European countries where political employees are particularly well-recruited,40 and where former civil servants constitute large proportions of parliamentary elites.41 To summarize, the social profile and volatility differ slightly between titular and ethnic MPs. Candidates nominated in SMDs and per party lists differed from each other regarding the stronger representation of party politicians in the latter. Other types of political background were distributed almost equally among parties and SMDs, as the averages demonstrate. Moreover, Eastern Ukrainian parliamentarians, primarily holding regional or local positions, gained less political experience than their Western counterparts. The occupational background of MPs also supports the findings concerning their professionalization in a regional comparison. Eastern Ukrainian MPs worked outside of the political sphere (management of large enterprises) before their recruitment into the Verkhovna Rada. The Western parts of Ukraine recruited primarily politically experienced MPs, among others political party employees.
However, the main factor which influenced parliamentary recruitment in Ukraine was the recruitment strategies of the main PPGs. The Party of Regions recruited the major proportion of ethnic MPs because this party has been particularly successful in Eastern Ukraine, where the majority of Russians live. The regions of Eastern Ukraine are also more industrialized than those of Western Ukraine; therefore, the proportion of businessmen and managers is high among ethnic MPs. In contrast, Yushchenko’s bloc “Our Ukraine”, being well-supported in Western Ukraine, recruited more titular MPs from policy-related professional groups like high-ranking civil servants.
This article contributes to the discussion of Regionalism in Ukraine and its role in Ukrainian politics. Ukraine presents a rather unique case in the post-communist history of Eastern Europe, where the presence of a large Russian minority group has not led to any military or any other radical political action, as in the majority of the other post-communist countries. Nationalistically oriented groups with rather radical claims exist in Ukraine, and rather prominent top political officials, including one of the Presidents, tried to promote a nationalist agenda. However, the political outcome of their actions is minimal at best, and the two major ethnic groups continue to coexist rather peacefully in comparison to the majority of the other postcommunist countries.
This article takes a closer look at the dynamics of post-communist political institution building and the structure of legislative representation. It argues that the electoral connection can provide a useful insight in this rather unique regional development. Specially, this article focuses on the Parliamentary Party Groups (PPGs) and discusses their electoral connections. This research demonstrates that PPGs are in many ways regional, and in this way regionalism matters. However, these PPGs represent mainly large financial groups with interest in economic gain. These groups have clear regional connections (e.g., Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, and Kiev groups). Regionalism and ethnic tensions may serve as impediments to achieving their main objective, which is economic gain. Therefore, the traditional distinction in the literature on Eastern and Western Ukraine or South and Center of Ukraine is primarily about economics and not Russians vs. Ukrainians ethnic group cleavages. This article indicates that PPGs have regional connections, but it is more a connection to economic or financial groups than a connection to the electorate of a particular region. The article looks at PPG recruitment patterns and discusses the dynamics of recruiting members from large enterprises (parts of the financial groups) as well as the other recruitment patterns.
Research into the party system indicates that the connection to major financial groups matters more than any other factor. In short, the election system has been changed to purely proportional. This allows big financial groups to gain power more easily than under majoritarian or mixed systems. This development can be also observed in an increasing proportion of businessmen among parliamentarians in the VR. Under the SMD system a specific person was running for an office. Under the current system, it is frequently hard to understand who is on the list and people sarcastically call deputies nothing more than “button pushers,” understanding the puppet roles that they frequently play in a parliament.
To summarize, our main findings demonstrate that groups can be regional and have regional connections, but they are interested in economic gain and regionalism matters to them only to the extent that such ties can further their real agenda. The well-discussed regional distinctions between Western, Eastern, and Southern Ukraine and their roles in the Ukrainian politics do matter; however, the main cleavage is between financial groups in Ukraine, not between Ukrainian and Russian ethnic groups. This research shows that although we agree with the mainstream literature that regionalism matters in the Ukrainian politics, we add to this research and offer to discuss further the role of major financial groups and the dynamics of their representation in the Ukrainian legislature. More data is needed to investigate further electoral connections between PPGs and different groups in the electorate. Further research is needed to investigate the effects of electoral changes on ethnic representation as well as party nomination practices. A cross-regional comparative study of post-communist countries can bring further insight into the issue and further our understanding of ethnic cleavages, regionalism, and the electoral connections of modern PPGs.
1. Irina Khmelko and Krista E. Wiegand “Government Repression in Ethnic Conflict: Institutional Incentives and Cultural Legacies,” International Journal on World Peace 27. 2 (June 2010): p7(28).
2. D. L. Horowitz, “The Challenge of Ethnic Conflict: Democracy in Divided Society,” Journal of Democracy 4, no. 4 (October 1993), p. 28.
3. Charles Wise and Trevor Brown, “Democratization and the Separation of Powers in Ukraine: the Role of the Parliament in the Passage of the New Constitutions,” Paper Prepared for 1997 Annual Meeting of the Western Political Science Association, (Tucson, Arizona, 1997), p. 2.
4. Khmelko and Wiegand, 2010.
5. Ann Phillips, The Politics of Presence, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).
6. Joseph Francis Zimmerman, “Equity in Representation for Women and Minorities”, in Wilma Rule and Joseph Francis Zimmerman, eds., Electoral Systems in Comparative Perspective: Their Impact on Women and Minorities, (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1994), pp. 3-14.
7. Larry Jay Diamond, Developing Democracy: Toward Consolidation, (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1999).
8. James March and Johan P. Olsen, Rediscovering Institutions, (New York: Free Press, 1989).
9. Maurice Duverger, Political Parties: Their Organization and Activity in the Modern State, (New York: Wiley, 1954).
10. Arend Lijphart, Democracies: Patterns of Majoritarian and Consensus Government in Twenty-One Countries, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984); Diamond, Developing Democracy.
11. Lijphart, Democracies; Frank S. Cohen, “Proportional versus majoritarian ethnic conflict management in democracies,” Comparative Political Studies 30 (1997), pp. 607-630.
12. Tatiana Kostadinova, “Ethnic and women’s representation under mixed election systems”, Electoral Studies 26 (2007), pp. 418-431.
13. Matthew Soberg Shugart, “Minorities Represented and Underrepresented”, in Wilma Rule and Joseph Francis Zimmerman, eds., Electoral systems in comparative perspective: their impact on women and minorities, (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1994), pp. 31-41.
14. Seymour M. Lipset, “The Centrality of Political Culture,” in Larry Diamond and Mark Plattner, eds., Global Resurgence of Democracy (Baltimore, Maryland: John Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 150- 153, p. 153.
15. Sarah Birch, “Interpreting the Regional Effect in Ukrainian Politics,” Europe-Asia Studies 52, no. 6 (2000), pp. 1017-1041; Paul Kubicek, “Regional Polarisation in Ukraine: Public Opinion, Voting and Legislative Behaviour,” Europe-Asia Studies 52, no. 2 (2000), pp. 273-294; Peter R. Craumer and James I. Clem, “Ukraine’s Emerging Electoral Geography: A Regoinal Analysis of the 1998 Parliamentary Elections,” Post-Soviet Geography and Economics 40, no. 1 (1999), pp. 1-26; Lowell Barrington, “The Geographic Component of Mass Attitudes in Ukraine,” Post-Soviet Geography and Economics 38, no. 10 (1997), pp. 601-614; Sven Holdar, “Torn between East and west: The Regional Factor in Ukrainian Politics,” Post-Soviet Geography 36, no. 2 (1995), pp. 112-132.
16. Lowell W. Barrington and Erik S. Herron, “One Ukraine or Many? Regionalism in Ukraine and its Political Consequences,” Nationalities Papers 32, no. 1 (March 2004), pp. 53-86.
17. See Roman Solchanyk, “The Politics of State-Building: Centre-Periphery Relations in Post- Soviet Ukraine,” Europe-Asia Studies 46, no. 1 (January 1994), pp. 47-68; Sven Holdar, ‘Torn Between East and West: The Regional Factor in Ukrainian Politics,” Post-Soviet Geography 36, no. 2 (February 1995), pp. 112-132; Dominique Arel & Valeri Khmelko, “The Russian Factor and Territorial Polarization in Ukraine,” The Harriman Review 9, 1-2 (Spring 1996), pp. 81-91; Paul Pirie, “National Identity and Politics in Southern and Eastern Ukraine,” Europe-Asia Studies 48, no. 7 (November 1996), pp. 1079- 1104; Lowell Barrington, “The Geographic Component of Mass Attitudes in Ukraine,” Post-Soviet Geography 38, no. 10, (December 1997), pp. 601-614; William Zimmerman, “Is Ukraine a Political Community?” Communist and Post-Communist Studies 31, no. 1 (March 1998), pp. 43-55; and Peter Craumer & James Clem, “Ukraine’s Emerging Electoral Geography: A Regional Analysis of the 1998 Parliamentary Elections,” Post-Soviet Geography and Economics 40, no. 1 (January 1999), pp. 1-26.
18. Barrington and Herron, Ibid.
19. Paul Kubicek, “Regional Polarisation in Ukraine: Public Opinion, Voting and Legislative Behaviour,” Europe-Asia Studies 52, no. 2 (March 2000), p.273.
20. Vicki Hesli, William Reisinger and Arthur Miller, “Political Party Development in Divided Societies: The Case of Ukraine,” Electoral Studies 17, no. 2, (June 1998), p. 237. See also Taras Kuzio, Ukraine: State and Nation Building (London, Routledge, 1998), p. 5.
21. Paul Kubicek, “Regional Polarisation in Ukraine: Public Opinion, Voting and Legislative Behaviour,” Europe-Asia Studies 52, no. 2 (March 2000), p. 288.
22. Andrew Wilson and Sarah Birch, “Voting Stability, Political Gridlock: Ukraine’s 1998 Parliamentary Elections,” Europe–Asia Studies 51 (1999), pp. 1039–1068; Sarah Birch 2000. Elections and Democratization in Ukraine (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000).
23. Paul Kubicek, “Regional Polarisation in Ukraine: Public Opinion, Voting and Legislative Behaviour,” Europe-Asia Studies, 52, 2, March 2000, pp. 273-294, p. 288.
24. Omar G. Encarnacion, “The Politics of Dual Transitions,” Comparative Politics 28, no. 4 (July 1996), pp. 477-492.
25. Robert G. Moser, “The Impact of the Electoral System on Post-communist Party Development: The Case of the 1993 Russian Parliamentary Elections,” Electoral Studies 14, no. 4 (December 1995), pp. 377-398; Moser, “The Impact of Electoral Systems in Russia,” Post Soviet Affairs 13, no. 3, pp. 284-302; Timothy J. Colton, “Professional Engagement and Role Definition among Post-Soviet Legislators,” in Thomas F. Remington, ed., Parliaments in Transition: The New Legislative Politics in the Former USSR and Eastern Europe (Boulder, C.O.: Westview Press, 1994); David M. Olson, Democratic Legislative Institutions: A Comparative View (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1994); Olson, “The Sundered State: Federalism and Parliament in Czechoslovakia,” in Thomas F. Remington, ed., Parliaments in Transition: The New Legislative Politics in the Former USSRE and Eastern Europe (Boulder, C.O.: Westview Press, 1994); Thomas F. Remington, ed., Parliaments in Transition: The New Legislative Politics in the Former USSR and Eastern Europe (Boulder, C.O.: Westview Press, 1994); David M. Olson and Philip Norton, eds., The New Parliaments of Central and Eastern Europe (London: Frank Cass, 1996); Lilia Shevtsova, “The Constitution: Snares of Russian Politics,” The Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press 45, no. 30 (Aug. 25, 1993), pp. 26-27; Dallin, Alexander (ed.). 1993. Party Formation after Revolutionary Transitions: The Russian Case. Research Series 88. University of Berkley.
26. Olson, “The Sundered State,” pp. 104-105; Hanica Reschova and Jindriska Syllova, “The Legislature of the Czech Republic,” in Olson and Norton, eds., The New Parliaments of Central and Eastern Europe (London: Frank Cass, 1996), p. 100.
27. Atilla Agh, “Democratic Parliamentary in Hungary: The First Parliament and the Entry of the Second Parliament”, in Olson and Norton, eds., The New Parliaments of Central and Eastern Europe (London: Frank Cass, 1996), pp. 20-21.
28. Maurice D. Simon, “Institutional Development of Poland’s Post-communism Sejm: A Comparative Analysis,” in Olson and Norton, eds., The New Parliaments of Central and Eastern Europe (London: Frank Cass, 1996), p. 70.
29. Peet Kask, “Institutional Development of the Parliament of Estonia,” in Olson and Norton, eds., The New Parliaments of Central and Eastern Europe (London: Frank Cass, 1996), p. 195.
30. Joel M. Ostrow, Comparing Post-Soviet Legislatures: A Theory of Institutional Design and Political Conflict (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2000), p. 7.
31. Peter Potichniy, The Multi Party System in Ukraine (Koln: Budesinstitut for Ostwissen und Internationale Studien, 1994).
32. Paul D’Anieri, Robert Kravchuk, and Taras Kuzio. Politics and Society in Ukraine (US: Westview Press, 1999), p. 125.
33. Pavlo Kysliy and Charles R. Wise, Stanovlennya Parliamentarizmu v Ukraine (Kyiv, Ukraine: Abris, 2000), p. 227.
34. Ibid, p. 227.
35. Ibid, p. 227.
36. Verkhovna Rada, official Web Site, http://gska2.rada.gov.ua/pls/site/p_fractions (09/25/2010).
37. Global Security, official Web Site, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/ukraine (09/25/2010).
38. Igor M. Myklashchuk, “Ідеологічні засади політичних партій України (за редвиборними документами 2006–2007 рр.) (Ideological Manifestos of Political Parties in Ukraine: the Case of Manifestos 2006-2007 parliamentary elections)”, Strategic Priorities, 3 (2009).
39. Census of Population 2001, State Statistical Office of Ukraine, http://www.ukrcensus.gov.ua/rus/ results/general/nationality/ (09/30/2010).
40. Stefaan Fiers and Ineke Secker, “A career through the party”, in Maurizio Cotta and Heinrich Best, eds., Democratic Representation in Europe: Diversity, Change, and Convergence, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
41. Maurizio Cotta and Pedro Tavares de Almeida, “From servants of the state to elected representatives”, in Maurizio Cotta and Heinrich Best, eds., Democratic Representation in Europe: Diversity, Change, and Convergence, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 57-59.