The Best Party: What Influences the Development of Ukrainian Political Parties

September 15, 2017

Political trade, the spread of regionalism and more leadership projects are the main trends of Ukrainian party construction.

“The legal group “Ukrparty” offers a wide range of political parties from direct owners. There are new parties, as well as political forces with long-standing registration and an extensive structure of regional organizations, — a statement of such a content we could read on one of the web-resources even at the end of 2016. Currently there is no access to the web-site of this legal group. Perhaps, the legal group “Ukrparty” became popular due to a number of journalistic investigations devoted to the sale of political parties in Ukraine. However, this does not mean that this activity has stopped. It is worth only typing in the search engine a request “to buy a party” and on the first page to choose one of the several propositions.

A more effective way to find a client is an advertising targeting (aiming at the target audience). In fact, Ukrainian MP Oleksandr Chernenko gave prominence to “Ukrparty”. According to Oleksandr Chernenko, he received an advertisement directly on his electronic mailbox, which was created for him as MP. Chernenko is not the only one.

I regularly, not only before the elections and after them, got e-mails that the parties are selling. There are quite a lot of so-called “avatars” (legal coverings). We know how new parties are emerging now. They are really new, have a leader, but first it is bought a covering, then fill it. “Unfortunately, such an “original sin” deforms the development of the political system itself”, — said political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko. This is happening during a roundtable organized by the Razumkov Centre on the occasion of the publication “Ukraine’s party system evolution: 1990–2017”.

The cost of a “turnkey party” starts from 25–30 thousand “no hryvnias”. During the roundtable experts and scholars agree that the development of trade in political parties is one of the worst trends in the formation of the recent political system.

It is difficult to estimate the exact number of such “avatars”, but approximate conclusions can be drawn. According to the information of the NGO “The Committee of Voters of Ukraine” it was a peak of creating new political forces after the Euromaidan. In 2014, 37 political parties were created, in 2015 – 79 (the highest score during the entire period of independence), during the first 9 months of 2016 — 41 parties. In total the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine’ register of political parties includes 352 political parties in Ukraine. However, this data is on January 18, 2017 and is updated only once a year. According to the information, which was announced during the roundtable the number of political parties reached to 355.

Representatives from 60 political parties took part during the last parliamentary elections in 2014. If, of course, count both candidates and representatives in the commissions. However, only 29 political parties directly took part in the elections.

Other figures can be found. In early 2016, political parties were required to submit financial statements. By October 2017, 162 political parties didn’t submit their financial statements. The National Agency for Corruption Prevention (NACP) which is responsible for processing these documents addressed the parties for explanations. Some parties concerned finally submit their statements. The thing is 86 requests for parties returned to the NACP because of the lack of political parties at the addresses indicated in the official register.


Another trend that the experts and academics point out is the growing number of so-called regional parties. According to the results of the last local elections of 2015, they got representation only in one region or at most several. Sometimes, such political parties already in their titles directly associate themselves with a certain region or historical region, for example, “The inhabitants of Cherkasy region”, “European strategy of Vinnytsia” or “Ukrainian Halych Party”. In some cases it is about creating political parties on a national basis, such as “The Hungarian Party of Ukraine”.

What push the regional elites to such kind of actions? It is also details. For example, talking about the party “The inhabitants of Cherkasy region”. There is a very interesting assembly: both ex-members of the “Party of the regions” and ex-members of Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, former representatives from “Free democrats party”. They united over the territorial principle. And what does such regionalism give to us? “In my opinion, the problems of regionalism is a trend that is gaining momentum. The political parties have found a way how to flout a law about political parties and create regional parties”, — said professor Maria Karmazina from the Institute of political and ethnical studies named after I. Kuras under National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
The recent research conducted by the Razumkov Centre indicates the active creation of parties of “regional and local nature”. The reasons for this tendency are decentralization processes and local elections in 2015. The recent examples of such new political parties are “The inhabitants of Kherson region”, “Gypsy party of Ukraine”, “Georgian party of Ukraine”.

Earlier it was stated in the reports of the NGO “The committee of voters of Ukraine” and the Fund “Democratic initiatives”. Sometimes, the names of the parties do not contain clear links to the specific region and in fact there are party projects of influential local leaders. Accordingly, They are gaining popularity in their “base” region, and not more. Such party projects include the following parties: “For specific actions” of business spouses of Gereg, who “digged” in Khmelnytsky oblast, “Trust to actions” of Odessa mayor Hennadiy Trukhanov, “The single centre” of Viktor Baloga in Transcarpathia and so on.

Leadership parties

The last group of projects is closely associated with another trend – the creation of new political leadership projects. This trend is not new, but rather a continuation of the entire party history of Ukraine. We could only remind about “Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc”. According to the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine’ official register of political parties, more than 10 parties bear a name of their leaders. In addition to the most famous “Petro Poroshenko Bloc “Solidarity” and “Radical Party of Oleh Liashko”, there are less known party projects such as “Ukrainian Sea Party of Serhii Kivalov”, “Peoples Initiatives of Olexandr Feldman” or “Justice” of Valentyn Nalyvaichenko. Among the recent examples – “Public political platform of Nadia Savchenko”.

In fact, leadership projects in Ukraine are twice as large. In certain cases the official name of the political party do not include the name of its leader. For example, when talked about the newly created “Movement of New Forces” it is certainly added “of Mikheil Saakashvili”. Binding party projects to their leaders also determines their short-lived. According to the majority of participants of the roundtable life cycle of the political party lasts from 5 to 15 years. As long as the leader is there, the party exists. As soon as the leader loses his position, the political party also disappears from the political horizon.

This situation turns into a vicious circle. According to Yuriy Yakymenko, Director of political and legal programs at the Razumkov Centre, the political party leader often becomes the only indicator for the voter to distinguish political forces from others. For the creation of other indicators, parties simply lack the lifecycle.

Desirable party

According to the sociological surveys, conducted by the Razumkov Centre, the so-called “desirable party” for Ukrainians is a political party that is aimed at “protecting the national interests of Ukraine”. The number of respondents choosing this answer is significantly higher than other options. The closest competitors, such as the protection of the interests of the region inhabitants, the protection of the interests of a particular social group or the protection of the ideological principles as a whole do not reach the first option.

Such a party has two equivalent main tasks: to enter the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and to achieve the victory in the presidential elections for its candidate, and to a lesser extent — to win local elections. If you do not fulfil the main goals, then it will not possible to protect the interests of voters.

In addition, such a “desirable party” is definitely a leadership party. According to the poll conducted in May 2015, 41,6% of respondents suggest that a modern party should be headed by “strong, authoritative leader who is unchanged over a long period of time”. Competitive change of party leaders and collective leadership options supported by only 29%.

Regarding the party programs, the average “desirable party” is strictly socially oriented (high taxes for the rich people, price regulation and protection of workers wages). Poor citizens need to be protected more than the middle class. The proponents of such a party also want the expansion of the state sector of the economy.

Moreover, the supporters of the “desired party” often believe that the Ukrainian nation combines all citizens, regardless of ethnic origin, and religious denominations should be equal. Such a party supports the course of Ukraine’s accession to the EU and NATO. According to the majority of the respondents, such parties should be funded by members, but not by government (61% vs. 19%). During the roundtable Ukrainian MP Pavlo Pynzenyk stressed that the desire to quickly develop the party system faces the level of the society development itself. “Each convocation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has a “compromise point” in view of public opinion. We have also adopted a law on party state funding. For this most of MPs hated us”, — Pavlo Pynzenyk responded to criticism regarding current legislation on party financing and the need for its development.

Sociologist Iryna Bekeshkina emphasizes on the paradox of the public opinion: People do not trust to parties, but vote for them. The main answer to this question is because the parties protect the interests of society, not of the financial and industrial groups.
At the same time, only 20% (earlier it was 10%) of the respondents are ready to finance the parties that really protect their interests. “Who should finance the parties? The most popular answer is the leader, therefore which nation and which the party”, — said Bekeshkina.

Even for an imaginary party with transparent funding, the road to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is not smooth. Other Ukrainian problems will be hindered: the dependence of the media from their owners or the interconnection (for example, after the Maidan it was created 8 “Maidan” parties). However, people still would like to see such a party in the “field conditions”.


Yuriy Yakymenko

President, Editor-in-Chief of "National Security and Defence" Journal

Born in 1967 in Cherkasy


National Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv, Faculty of Philosophy (1991)

University of Manchester (the UK), Department of Government, post-graduate course in Political Theory, MA (Econ) (1994)

National Academy of Sciences Institute of Philosophy, post-graduate course in Social Philosophy (1995). The author of about 200 publications

Ph.D. in Political Science (2013). The author of about 40 research papers and more than 200 publications in media


1991 – 1995 — Expert in Public Relations of the Ukrainian Union of Afghan War Veterans

1995 – 2002 — Senior Consultant, Chief Consultant, Head of Division, Deputy Head of the Main Department of Domestic Policy of the Administration of the President of Ukraine

Most recent position at State Service — Deputy Head of the Department for Analysis and Prognosis of Home Policy of the Administration of the President of Ukraine. State Servant of the 4th rank

April 2002 – May 2005  — Razumkov Centre Leading Expert, Political and Legal Programmes

May 2005 – November 2011 — Director of Political and Legal Programmes

November 2011 – June 2020 — Deputy Director General, Director of Political and Legal Programmes

June 2020 — ongoing — President of the Razumkov Centre

(044) 201-11-92