The long and winding road towards democracy in Ukraine
Echoing the ideas expressed here on UT just a day ago, Adrian Karatnycky of the Freedom House expresses optimism at Ukraine's progress towards democracy.
Zigging and Zagging Toward Democracy
Still, not all is as grim as it might appear. A recent Freedom House study on how democracy takes root shows that not all anti-authoritarian revolutions are equal. Those that succeed in building durable democracy have three common characteristics: They maintain the discipline of nonviolent civic action; they are led by cohesive and broadly based civic coalitions; and they force splits within the ruling elite and its security forces, some of which ally with the opposition.
If the evidence of the past is a guide to the future, Ukraine and Georgia have better chances for durable democracy than Lebanon or Kyrgyzstan, where civic coalitions never cohered or where there was some serious opposition violence.
Indeed, one year after the Orange Revolution, Ukraine enjoys a vibrant and diverse political spectrum with three major parties and important minor parties, most with a real chance to influence the shape of the next government. Civic activism is high, with protesters challenging everything from economic policy to environmental degradation to urban development plans. There is an emboldened and free press.
Yushchenko may have lost some revolutionary luster and seen a drop in public support as he moves from revolutionary rhetoric to pragmatic and effective governing. Still, he is deeply committed to democracy and widely regarded as personally incorruptible.