Ukraine: The Uses of Divided Power

Issue Date July 2010
Volume 21
Issue 3
Page Numbers 84-98
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Ukraine’s 2010 presidential elections illuminate a path to post-Soviet democratization despite possible reversal. Post-Soviet authoritarianism reflects the rise of nationwide political machines. The 2005 Orange Revolution democratized Ukraine not by eliminating machine politics but through constitutional reform giving the premier independence from the president, thus complicating presidential capacity to monopolize “administrative resources.” The 2010 campaign was thus a corrupt competition for the hearts, minds, and pocketbooks of voters. While president-premier cooperation could restore authoritarian trends, the constitutional reform works against this. Ukraine’s path, though highly imperfect, may still be the best near-term democratic option for high-corruption, low-rule-of-law states.