Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Sadly, most of those programs have fallen by the wayside. Georgia's democratic leaders have made a series of blunders and lost land and momentum to secessionist movements. Lebanon appears to have traded Syria for Iran in terms of foreign meddling. And in Ukraine the presidency of Yushchenko comes to an end with a whimper and many unfulfilled dreams.
Part of this was predictable. In order to secure a peaceful transition, Yushchenko bargained away much presidential power to the Parliament. Whomever controlled it would actually be more powerful than the president, and Yushchenko would have had to find ways to deal with that leadership. Alas, the two most powerful figures there were Orange Revolution heroine Yulia Tymoshenko, whose designs on power were obvious even during 2004-05, and the person who tried to steal the election in 2004, Viktor Yanukovych. Since peaceful transfer had to include a deal for him, his power base was never broken after Yushchenko took power and in first-round elections last week he rose to top of the polls again. Tymoshenko came in second; Yushchenko was an also-ran. After working with her in 2007 to help her win the premiership, the relations between the two soured.
So this Sunday the runoff occurs, and we tend to look sadly at the possible result. The Economist reviews the options between the two remaining candidates and argues "the biggest threat to Ukraine is its inability to govern itself." But the seeds of that were laid when the Orange Revolution did not permanently cripple the corrupt regime before it. To elect Yanukovych now would render it meaningless, Tymoshenko now argues. In fact, it's the only argument she has left.