September 4, 2013
The topic of European integration is becoming more urgent for Ukrainian politicians to use in the electoral struggle.
Recent sociological research reveals, first – high interest of citizens in the issues of Ukraine’s geopolitical choice, and second – the dominance of their “pro-European” sentiments.
For example, according to the study, recently carried out by the fund Democratic Initiatives alongside with the sociological service Razumkov Centre, supporters of the EU entry prevail in Ukraine. Answering the question which integration direction Ukraine should follow, 42% of the citizens chose the European Union. At the same time, 31% of the respondents chose the Customs Union (CU) with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, and 13% and 13.7% respectively said that Ukraine should enter neither the EU nor the CU and found it difficult to answer.
Political experts also do not lag behind the sociologists. Thus, according to the expert research, carried out by Agency for Strategic Communications Res Publica, most experts are inclined to believe that if Ukraine is to make a choice it will choose EU integration. As the research results show, 53.3% of those asked are confident that in case of choosing Ukraine will opt for EU integration. 43.4% believe that Ukraine will balance between the two options. And 3.3% of the respondents forecast that Ukraine will reject both of the options. The option in favour of integration into the Customs Union was not backed by any expert (0.0%).
At the same time, the overwhelming majority of experts (76.7%) think that the European Union keeps being the integration priority for Ukraine. 10.0% defined the Customs Union as such priority. Only 3.3% of those asked called both the European Union and the Customs Union equally important for Ukraine. Besides, 10.0% of the respondents supported other options.
With such sentiments in society and amidst experts, it is not surprising that Ukrainian politicians are trying to build up their communication with voters in the context, among other things, of also their geopolitical preferences.
Representatives of both the pro-government and opposition camps vigorously dish out comments on advantages of European integration. And some of them even try to secure their devotion to European values on the verbal level with the help of clothes with pro-European slogans. The exception is only the representatives of the Communist Party, several marginal pro-Russian movements, incited by the Kremlin, and few politicians with pro-Russian sentiments.
The reason for such information campaign is simple – Ukraine’s presidential elections are coming up and it would not be farsighted for each candidate to ignore voters’ dispositions. Potential candidates – nowadays they are serving President Viktor Yanukovych, the leaders of the three opposition parties Vitali Klitschko, Arseniy Yatseniuk and Oleh Tiahnybok, and also head of the Communist Party Petro Symonenko – confirm with their messages the conclusions of the experts that the subject of European integration will be almost the main subject of the election campaign in 2015.
That is precisely why endless voyages of Ukrainian politicians (mainly- oppositionists) to Brussels and Washington should be viewed as their own presentation as presidential candidates to the international community. The recent initiative of President Viktor Yanukovych about a possible referendum holding as for Ukraine’s entry into the European Union should be viewed in the same context. Undoubtedly, it is still early to say that the EU swept open its doors to Ukraine; however, the very fact of holding such a referendum will be a powerful technological move and one of the elements of the forthcoming election campaign.
Anyway, the fact that Ukrainian politicians are already using the subject of European integration for their purposes is not so bad for Ukraine when the interests of the state, people and most politicians so unexpectedly coincided. And Ukraine will only benefit from it.Author : tfranke