Ukrainian voters have taken a certain risk in Parliament elections, filling the Rada with many MPs whose names are hardly known to anyone, even in Ukraine. It's amazing, and not only for Ukraine, how "start-up" parties managed to win the popular vote.
"Servant of the People", Volodymyr Zelensky's party, and also the "Holos" party of rock star Svyatoslav Vakarchuk are novices in the political arena, which made it relatively easy for them to succeed: with a few strong promises and party members who have the charm of political freshness and independence. The two parties may work together, but certain risks should also be taken into account, Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote.
For almost two decades, the country has been experiencing a succession of hopes, pitfalls and disappointments: the tumult of the Orange Revolution, then the feud of its protagonists, the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych, during which the country was desperately trying to balance between the EU and Russia until the Maidan protest erupted. Now there was the end of the cadence of Petro Poroshenko, who could not really overcome the immense political and economic burden of the Russia-fueled war in the east of the country.
But there is also hope: in Ukraine, a self-confident civil society has established itself, of which hardly any other country in the former Soviet Union can boast. The change of power is evidence of pluralism and competition, while the foreign policy course is a more or less constant attempt to move closer to the European Union because, despite all the crises, it still promises democracy and prosperity.
But the election result very clearly reflects the dissatisfaction with structures that are also found in other countries, especially in Eastern Europe: the great influence of wealthy entrepreneurs on politics, the judiciary, and the media. The protests in the Czech Republic, Romania or Moldova have already shown that many people are no longer willing to accept the blocking of anti-corruption reforms. They long for a noticeably better life, if possible immediately. The Ukrainians, in comparison with the neighboring Poles, learn how inhibited their country's development is.
One of Zelensky's big goals is to put an end to the war in Donbas. Maybe he will succeed in an exchange of prisoners, maybe there will be a summit with Russia, Germany, France; and that alone would be a small stage success. However, the publication notes, if the Ukrainian president does not renounce his will to join NATO – which he probably will not do – the situation is unlikely to change. And so the path to peace remains unpredictable and far-reaching, even for the new Ukrainian president.
Even more urgently, the Ukrainians are expecting to see a corruption-free state, lower electricity bills, and higher wages. Zelensky has created the basis for this with his party's impressive win in parliament elections. If he manages to break with the elites, secure more transparency and trust, this can accelerate economic change. Ukraine's population is over 40 million, while European companies are just waiting for the country to stabilize.
People's expectations of Volodymyr Zelensky are immense and perhaps exaggerated. But this also suggests that Ukraine has no alternative. In turn, the many nobodies in parliament have no choice but to quickly make a name for themselves.