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Tag: politics

Russia in the starting blocks for the 2021 parliamentary election

The 2021 State Duma election will be the most important stress-test for the Russian regime in the run-up to a possible transition of power in the coming years. The Kremlin has responded to real or imagined threats linked to this election with a new wave of highly repressive laws. However, this authoritarian overreaction may backfire, thus confirming the Kremlin’s fears of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Parliamentary elections in Russia are about much more than just window-dressing. They serve to legitimise the authoritarian regime in the eyes of the public as well as verify the efficacy of the state administration machinery. The tangible unease among the Kremlin’s decision-makers, provoked by an unfavourable economic future and a worrisome evolution in the social mood, has accelerated efforts to consolidate authoritarian rule.

February 3, 2021 - Maria Domańska

When institutions fail, boycott and street protests remain the only instrument

Georgian NGOs and election watchdogs have labelled the October 2020 parliamentary elections as “the least democratic and free among the elections held under the Georgian Dream government”. As a result, the united opposition parties have boycotted entering into the new parliament and protests continue on the streets of Tbilisi, calling for fresh, free and transparent elections.

Once a frontrunner in democracy in the region, Georgia now faces a crisis of democracy. What was supposed to be the country’s first predominantly proportional parliamentary elections that would strengthen representation and bring in a diverse, pluralistic parliament resulted in the opposite happening. Georgia’s 2020 parliamentary elections became known as “the least democratic and free” in the Georgian Dream’s rule by the country’s leading NGOs and election-watchdogs.

February 3, 2021 - Anastasia Mgaloblishvili

Lithuanian elections provide new opportunities and women empowerment

In October 2020 the election to Lithuanian parliament (the Seimas) took place and brought new political power to Lithuania for the upcoming four years. More women have been empowered in leadership – the three parties that will make up the centre right coalition are led by women. This election marks a change in Lithuania’s political culture and gives more assurance for trust, democracy and gender equality.

During the two rounds of elections to the Seimas on October 11th and 25th, 141 parliamentarians were elected to represent Lithuania’s parliament for the next four years. The results of the elections show that the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats won the elections with the most seats (50) in the Seimas. The previous ruling party, the Lithuanian Peasant Popular Party, won 32 seats while the Social Democrats and the Liberal Movement received 13 mandates each. The Freedom Party, founded in 2019, won 11 seats, and the Labour Party won 10 seats. The new ruling coalition was formed by the Homeland Union, the Liberal Movement and the Freedom Party, which together secured a majority of 74 seats.

February 3, 2021 - Kristina Smolijaninovaitė

What Ratas’ removal means for Estonia

The resignation of Prime Minister Ratas and his government comes after accusations of corruption within the Centre Party. Politics in Estonia is entering a phase rarely seen before in its modern history.

January 26, 2021 - Samuel Kramer

What do Aliyev, Ivanishvili and Zelenskyy have in common?

There is a recurring pattern among some of Russia's neighbours. Centrists look to avoid a confrontation with Moscow, while national democrats tend to blame it for their ills.

November 24, 2020 - Taras Kuzio

Do European values still matter in Ukraine?

Politics in Ukraine is still not driven by ideas or ideologies, but rather by personalities and money. While on the pro-western flank there are at least signs of demarcation between more liberal forces and more patriotic/identity politics, the pro-Russian flank is still characterised by a chaotic mixture of ideas.

When Volodymyr Zelenskyy won the 2019 presidential election in Ukraine, Ukrainian philosopher Vakhtang Kebuladze called his phenomenon a “non-Maidan”. I repeated this expression in my interview for New Eastern Europe published in May this year. Kebuladze meant that Zelenskyy’s election undermined the 2013-2014 confrontation between the pro-European “Maidan” and the pro-Russian “anti-Maidan”, and his political project – Servant of the People – intuitively or consciously sought a different approach: more inclusive, but also more vague, a comprehensive platform attracting voters with different origins and values.

November 17, 2020 - Volodymyr Yermolenko

Moldova’s oligarch mayors go global

The experience of Moldova reveals that in Central and Eastern Europe’s highly politicised and oligarchised environment, city diplomacy can be an easy tool for wealthy politicians suspected of corruption to gain more popularity and shield themselves from the judicial system. Ilan Șor and Renato Usatîi have been particularly adept in this realm.

Orhei, a medium-sized city about an hour north of Chișinău, is an unlikely rival to Monaco. Yet mayor Ilan Șor – one of the country’s oligarchs – promised in 2018 that Orhei’s residents would “live as they do” in the European principality. Farther north, in Bălți, mayor Renato Usatîi – yet another oligarch – claimed to have started a revolution in the city’s contacts with the world.

November 16, 2020 - Cristian Cantir

Clan war instead of fighting coronavirus and corruption

Chaos is probably the most accurate word to describe what has been happening recently in Kyrgyzstan. Political pluralism in this Central Asian state is so advanced that the Kyrgyz people find it difficult to understand who is currently seeing eye-to-eye with whom, who is against whom, and who calls the shots.

Nearly a month has passed since the October 4th parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan, but it remains unclear who is actually holding power in the country. There were as many as three individuals claiming the prime minister’s seat. President Sooronbay Jeenbekov announced that “as soon as the situation stabilises” he would be ready to step down. After the resignation of subsequent Supreme Council speakers, two of the deputies argued which one had the right to preside over the Supreme Council (the country’s parliament).

November 16, 2020 - Ludwika Włodek

The line between politics and friendship

A review of Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism and Twilight of Democracy. The Failure of Politics and the Parting of Friends. By Anne Applebaum. Publisher: Penguin/ Allen Lane, London, 2020.

November 16, 2020 - Simona Merkinaite

A triumphant referendum?

Russian officials and state media outlets have called Russia’s recent vote on constitutional amendments a “triumph”. What does the result tell us about the state of Russian society? How did Russians living abroad vote? According to official data, Russians living in the Baltic states voted in favour of the amendments to the constitution at a higher rate to Russians living in Russia or Russians living in other EU countries. Why was this?

On July 1st Russia’s nationwide voting on constitutional amendments – designed primarily to give the current Russian president, Vladimir Putin the opportunity to remain in power until 2036 – came to an end. According to Russia’s Central Electoral Commission, more than 57.7 million voters, or 77.92 per cent of those who voted, supported the amendments, while 15.7 million, or 21.27 per cent, voted against it. The turnout, according to official reports, reached almost 68 per cent.

September 7, 2020 - Olga Irisova

Who is behind the plot to topple the Latvian parliament?

What started as a justifiable reason for protest was quickly hijacked by a handful of individuals looking to profit from the growing polarisation in Latvian society. A proposal by several anti-establishment political groups on November 14th last year called for the dissolution of the national legislature. It was at that point when it became clear that the groups had started a movement that would cause an unprecedented rift in civil society.

There exists a very common misconception in modern-day Latvian politics that all political conundrums can be solved by the most radical expression of civic action one can find within a democracy. However the idea of a movement pushing towards dissolving the national parliament, which is very popular, is flawed to the core and has the potential to stir up domestic and regional politics to an unprecedented level.

April 7, 2020 - Ričards Umbraško

Moldova (re)balancing its foreign policy

For the time being, Machiavellian principles dominate Moldova’s foreign policy. With pressure from the European Union targeting the rule of law and the need to find material benefits, the current Moldovan ruling elite is heading to the widest doors.

Since the first days of independence in 1991, the political class in Moldova has chosen to tie the country’s foreign policy to a bifurcated East-West orientation. This is reflected in the state’s governance as leaders constantly search for quick fixes from the outside. Thus, this geopolitical oscillation has become a modern Moldovan political tradition with the foreign policy dichotomy as a sort of "trademark" used to quickly interpret, not always accurately, public perceptions or the conduct of the political parties by observers both at home and abroad.

April 6, 2020 - Denis Cenusa

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