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Servant of the People party has no future without Zelenskyy

Five years ago, the Servant of the People party gained a mono-majority in the Verkhovna Rada. Since February 24, MPs have been engaged in parliamentary work in a full-scale war. Over the past seven months, some have been expelled from the faction, such as collaborator MP Oleksiy Kovalev, and others have taken high public office, such as Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin. What does the future hold for the Servant of the People party and can it exist without the support of President Volodymyr Zelenskyyy?

October 13, 2022 - Iryna Patlatyuk - Analysis

“The SN faction in the parliament has shown itself over the past seven months in a way that most of them understand – this is their last cadence,” says political analyst Oleksiy Holobutsky.

“The Servant of the People has gained maximum power in Ukraine. It is a great success for the first time in the country’s history to have a mono-majority in the parliament and the Cabinet of Ministers. The executive branch is in the hands of Zelenskyy and the Servant of the People. Against the backdrop of what is happening now, all their achievements and failures are irrelevant. For example, the failure of vaccination, the trouble with the economy even before the war. We saw their rating falling. Before the war, it dropped by 2.5 times. But everything happened like in Ukrainian history: a president comes to power, the rating falls, because people do not forgive anything. And then another president comes to power, a new political force.

The SN faction in the parliament has shown itself in seven months in such a way that most of them understand that this is their last cadence. They cannot vote on anything without the remnants of the OPFL and Kolomoisky’s groups. Some MPs simply ignore everything, while others are probably preparing a future platform for themselves. But the majority of the faction is an obedient printer for the Presidential Office. There is nothing wrong with that. There is a war. Any president, not just Zelenskyy, and not just SN, would use what we have. We have no domestic policy now. One political force, one politician, dominates and that’s it. And this is neither good nor bad. This is our reality after 2019.

“Servant of the People has no future without Zelenskyyy. But the president can shift it to someone else – Yermak, Arestovych, or someone else who has been “promoted” recently. There are several such figures.

Zelenskyyy is the most popular politician. Therefore, he can create a new political force – a party of winners. It all depends on how the war ends. We have not yet survived the winter. Prices, unemployment, lack of money and many problems that Ukrainians have not really gone through. I don’t see any ideas on how to restart the economy in such terrible conditions. It seems that everyone is waiting for a return to February 24 – that the economy, territories, factories, and people will be as before. But this will not happen. Everything is destroyed – we have to start from scratch. Nothing will happen to us worse than a war, except for a nuclear threat. So try, initiate, work for the future, create concepts that will develop after the war.

Perhaps Zelenskyy will be tired by then and it is not known whether he will want to do this. He is so popular in the world now that he could become the UN Secretary General. Our guarantor is the most famous person not only in Ukraine but also in the world.”

Political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko: “The President is not interested in party reorganization in times of war. He has completely different priorities – the war, the organization of resistance to Russian aggression.”

“The transformation of the SN party began before the war. Even during the 2020 local elections, local branches were reformatted and re-established. The process of creating a party is just beginning and will only accelerate during the war. Changes are inevitable. It is necessary to get rid of random characters who found themselves primarily in the parliamentary faction and sometimes in local organizations. They are called fellow travelers. Those who joined the party of the new president for the sake of convenience, with the aim of getting some benefits from it.

The party is searching for a new leader. There was no clear ideological position. Some people were supporters of libertarianism. Some were more conservative. Someone was a supporter of the classical liberal model. There were different views. They need to define a clear ideological model.

There will be changes. We can already predict that there will be a certain rebranding of the party. The name may be changed. These processes are now on hold. They will take place after the war is over. Perhaps in the process of preparing for the new parliamentary elections.

In the next parliamentary elections, we will see a significantly updated party list of the SN. It will be headed primarily by people who have been tested by war. Both at the front and at the head of the government. There are bright characters in the presidential team who can lead this party. The same Mykhailo Fedorov, Oleksiy Reznikov, Dmytro Kuleba. The list goes on. Some people from the Presidential Office. The party will have a different look – more understandable for voters. It will be more identified with the president. Not just formally, but by the fact of working together. Especially during the war. The president’s political party will have prospects in the next election. But, of course, it will depend on the state of the country after the war, the socio-economic situation, and how quickly the post-war reconstruction process will take place. And how quickly the process of purification in the party and in the government will take place. Fighting corruption and other traditional political ills.

In Ukraine, all parties depend on the personality of the leader. It doesn’t matter if it’s Zelenskyyy’s, Poroshenko’s, or Tymoshenko’s party. If there is no popular leader, the political party will have no future.

The president does not have time for party reorganization in a time of war. He has other priorities – the war, organizing resistance to Russian aggression. He is focused on foreign policy issues. He has no time for internal party processes, and they are frozen.

We can see that in the last year and a half, the “servants” faction has been giving up MPs who played their own games, did not support the president’s initiatives, and were influenced by Akhmetov or other oligarchs.

We can name Yevhen Shevchenko, for whom Lukashenko was an idol. Or Oleksandr Dubinsky. Some failed the test of war, some fled the country, and some were even physically “removed” for treason. Such people will be eliminated in the process of renewal. And the new party list will be formed more carefully. Although mistakes are inevitable. About half of the current SN MPs risk not being on the list in the new elections. Most of these people have not been prominent and are unlikely to become so. The only exception is Dmytro Razumkov.”

Iryna Patlatyuk is a Ukrainian journalist with the web portal Gazeta.UA.

This article is published in the framework of the “Bohdan Osadchuk Media Platform for Journalists from Ukraine” co-financed by the Polish-American Freedom Foundation as part of the "Support Ukraine” Program implemented by the Education for Democracy Foundation and the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation. 

Texts published as part of this project are available free of charge under open access Creative Commons license. Republishing is allowed under the CC license, however requires attribution and crediting the author and source. 

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