UKRAINE’S POLITICAL LANDSCAPE: THE PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC PARTY.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 240
Generally considered "the party of power," the People’s Democratic Party may more accurately be described as the party of a weak and insecure force, one that will struggle for political survival in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
The PDP is a party of notables, its core comprised of government officials, industrial managers, and appointed regional executives and city mayors. The prime mover behind the PDP since its creation has been Yevgeny Kushnaryov, former mayor of Kharkiv and currently the head of President Leonid Kuchma’s administration. Topping the party’s electoral slate are Prime Minister Valery Pustovoytenko (who plays no role in the PDP as such), Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs chairman Anatoly Kinakh, the heads of state administrations of Kharkiv and Vinnitsa regions, and former chairman of parliament Ivan Plyushch (who led the legislature when it proclaimed Ukraine’s independence). The party stands for a complete break with the Communist past and the containment of Red "revanchist" forces; for the rule of law in the state and the economic sphere; and for economic reforms, mainly in the sense of tax and regulatory relief, incentives to internal investors, and support for domestic producers. The PDP’s city and regional organizations are well placed to dispense patronage, and have not been above channeling state funds selectively to favored constituencies in order to pay wage arrears and garner political support in the process.
Some PDP leaders — notably party chairman Anatoly Matvienko, its executive secretary, Volodymyr Filenko, and the head of the Constitutional Center group of deputies, Mikhailo Sirota — are fairly close politically to the national-democratic Rukh and seek to achieve a political alliance with it. The Rukh, however, is internally divided on this issue.
A fairly high proportion of the officials and managers in the PDP are ethnic Russians and hold posts in Russified industrial cities. These officials have identified themselves completely with Ukrainian independent statehood. They expect the Ukrainian state to defend their economic interests, including those interests that are injured by Russia’s trade policies, and they compete politically with the pro-Russian forces in their regions. In the upcoming elections, PDP proposes to confront the Socialists and Communists in their own strongholds in eastern and southern Ukraine. Those populous regions are likely to tip the balance in both the parliamentary and the presidential elections. (Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research: Research Update, November 3; Radio Ukraine, December 22; The Rukh Insider, December 18)
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