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The rise of right-wing parties: is Ukraine following European example?

(с) Olena Bilozirska
Demonstration by supporters of party Svoboda
(с) Olena Bilozirska

The growth of support for the right-wing parties has been the issue that European countries face since recently. The examples can be found in several countries all over Europe. On the last presidential elections in France Marine Le Pen, who is the leader of the National Front, gained 18% of votes; in Greece the Golden Dawn party, with Nikos Michaloliakos in charge, won almost 7% (18 seats) in Parliamentary elections 2012; even in Finland, the True Finns party became the third biggest party in the Parliament. All of them share the anti immigration and Eurosceptic political agendas and are gaining more and more support.

Ukraine is no exception. On the last parliamentary elections in October 2012 party Svoboda (Freedom), which is known as radical right and even anti-Semitic organization gained 38 seats, which is around 10 % of Ukrainian Parliament. This means that Ukraine is following other European countries stepped on the very controversial way, since Svoboda claims in its Statement not only the necessity of nationalization, but also the possibility of country’s nuclear status restoration and “public trial of communism”.

However, the party programs as well as the reasons behind such trends are quite different in Western European countries and Ukraine. For France and Greece it is mostly the issue of immigrants, as the citizens are becoming less and less tolerant to aliens, especially towards those, who belong to the most different and visible minorities, who are the least integrated in society, and live on welfare benefits. Besides, the right-wing parties attract people with Euroskeptical views, especially during the Euro crisis.

On the other hand, Ukraine does not have such compelling issue with immigrants. And although Ukrainian people are supporting quite traditional values and are not very tolerant towards differences (for instance, in 2012 the gay parade in Kyiv was cancelled because of public resistance and danger of possible violence), the immigration is not the main issue that Svoboda gained support on. Besides, the party is pro European, but direction of foreign affairs is still not the reason of its popularity.

Stop whining, it’s time to act! (c) Svoboda

Ukrainians are simply getting tired from constant fights between two main powers in Ukrainian politics, which have been dominating the public sphere for almost 10 years now. Thus, people are just looking for an alternative, for a fresh blood. Unfortunately, the range of choice is not that rich. There are 5 parties in the Ukrainian Parliament and all of them are holding around one charismatic person, like Klichko, who is the Word’s Heavyweight Champion Boxer and now leader of one popular Ukrainian party.  Moreover, Svoboda is providing the show and attracts people’s attention with fights during demonstrations and anti-Semitic statements. Remarkable is that most voters did not even look at the official statement of party they vote for, which makes the situation quite dangerous. That is why, besides those who believe that this right-wing party is the only chance for improvement in Ukraine, radicals  are attracted to it.

Hence, Ukrainian politicians are playing with fire, because at some point more than 10% of citizens will vote for this party, which is sometimes even called ‘neo-nazis’, with far-right ideas and readiness to act, and then good bye the right to chose what to do with your body or the right to abortion and hello the ‘column five’ or the obligation to state the ethnicity in passport.