Paul D'Anieri, Understanding Ukrainian Politics: Power, Politics, and Institutional Design, 2007.


Power and Institutions
Overview of the Argument

The previous chapter reviewed several different strands of literature on political institutions and on democratization, and referred briefly to how some of these concepts apply to Ukraine. The purpose of this chapter is to move from the general to the specific; to present a coherent explanation of how politics in Ukraine worked under Kuchma, and to indicate what will need to change if the Orange Revolution is to lead to liberal democracy.

The explanation developed here is not simple or unicausal. There is no single factor that causes liberal democracy in general, nor is there a single factor that has inhibited its emergence in Ukraine. As the previous chapter indicated, liberal democracy is a complex phenomenon that consists of several factors, including free and fair elections, a high level of political participation, independent media, organized parties, rule of law, and institutionalization of democratic practices. It stands to reason that such a multifaceted phenomenon will be explained (or have its absence explained) by more than one variable.

The explanation advanced here links four factors: societal fragmentation, institutional design, power politics, and the absence of revolutionary change. These factors are listed in Figure 3.1. Societal fragmentation is a problem, but not an insurmountable one: it simply raises the standards for institutional design. Institutional design is also a problem, but it cannot be understood in isolation from societal fragmentation, since societal factors influence the effects of different institutional designs. Institutional designs that work well in ether countries will not work well in Ukraine.

Institutional design, however, is at the mercy of power politics, which influences both how the rules are written and how they are enforced. By power, we mean the resources actors possess that can influence the behavior of other actors, by altering their incentives. Formal powers are those that are legally recognized, such as the authority for elected officials to determine certain policies. Other powers are not legally recognized, such as the ability to bribe or threaten another actor, or at the extreme, the power to kill. Both matter in the conduct of politics. [49]

Figure 3.1

Outline of the Argument: Causes of Electoral Authoritarianism in Ukraine

  1. Societal Fragmentation
  2. Institutional Design
    1. Constitutional Design (strong presidential system)
    2. Electoral Law
    3. Rules Governing the Functioning of Parliament
  3. Power Politics
    1. In Implementation of Laws (selective law enforcement)
    2. In Writing the Laws
  4. The Nonrevolutionary Nature of Political Change in Ukraine

Note: As the previous chapter indicated, there are several labels for describing such "hybrid regimes." The label "electoral authoritarianism," is used here because it stresses the role of elections in promoting authoritarianism, rather than democracy, and because it stresses that regimes such as Ukraine's under Kuchma are more accurately labeled authoritarian than democratic. The term is used by Larry Diamond, among others. See "Think-ing about Hybrid Regimes," Journal of Democracy 13, no. 2 (April 2002): 24.

There is no way that the rules can be productively rewritten until it is in the interest of the most powerful actors in society. Now that those rules have been rewritten, the path is open to new patterns of politics. However, as the Orange Revolution vividly demonstrated, much in Ukraine is still determined by power politics. At the root of the problem, therefore, has been the concentration of de facto political and economic power in a single place: the executive branch of government.

How did power get so concentrated? It was already heavily concentrated under the Soviets, and without a genuine revolution in 1991, independent Ukraine inherited this system. A combination of historical circumstances and shrewd calculation allowed the people who controlled these assets under the Soviet system to weather the changes of 1991 with their power substantially intact. A main question for post-2004 Ukraine is whether the division of executive powers between the president and prime minister will reduce the potential for power politics, or simply lead to a new battle for control of the executive branch.

If we focus on the Kuchma era, and ask why liberal democracy eroded, we can begin with two broad categories of answers. The first is that Ukrainian society is too divided to build effective democracy. The second is that [50] the institutions are poorly designed. I argue that both of these factors are operative, and that they interact. The regional fissures in Ukrainian society would not be so salient were it not for the election law. The literature on election laws is quite clear on the limitations of certain kinds of systems. In particular, single-member district elections do not have the same effects in regionally divided societies as they do in homogeneous societies. Regional cleavages mean that whatever the election law, Ukraine will likely have a multiparty parliament. The reality of a multiparty system clashes with the choice of a presidential system, which has been found to work poorly in multiparty systems. While societal cleavages present a problem for institutional design in Ukraine, these problems are not insurmountable.

Therefore, a large part of the explanation for the erosion of liberal democracy in Ukraine is in the design of institutions, which are easier to change than the composition of society. The effects of institutional problems were seen in the inefficacy of the parliament and in the ease with which President Kuchma usurped power. Both the constitutional arrangement of powers between president and parliament and the electoral laws needed to be changed. It is not clear, however, that the changes agreed to in December 2004, and which went into effect in early 2006, will make a substantial improvement. Moreover, parties and the parliament have functioned poorly in part due to two other levels of rules: those that influence the level of control party leaders have over members and those that control the operation of the parliament itself.

Rule of Law versus Rule by Law

Any focus on formal rules in Ukraine, however, must answer this question: how can we say that the rules matter in a country in which they are often ignored? The answer is that institutional rules matter even when they are not enforced uniformly. In Ukraine, the rules are not uniformly ignored, but rather are enforced selectively. The difference is crucial. Uniform irrelevance of the laws breeds anarchy and chaos. Selective enforcement, on the contrary, leads to concentration of power in the hands of those who choose how and on whom to enforce the laws. It has been said that Ukraine does not have "rule of law" but "rule by law." We need to examine how informal power, such as patronage, control of the economy, and control of law enforcement leads to selective law enforcement. It is essential, therefore, to strengthen both the vertical and horizontal checks on executive power, not simply to write more rules. Where there is massive imbalance in de facto power, even the best rules will do little good.

Assessing de facto power is essential because it explains not only why the [51] formal rules are selectively enforced, but why a particular set of formal rules favors certain actors. One example is the power legally accruing to the president in the constitution. In 1996, when Ukraine's post-Soviet constitution was finally adopted, almost all power was on Kuchma's side: he credibly threatened that if he was not given extensive powers by the parliament, he would take even more authoritarian powers through a referendum.

Similarly, the constitutional changes adopted in December 2004 reflected the existing balance of power: Yushchenko had thousands of people in the streets, and was threatening a revolution. But Kuchma still had enough votes in the parliament to deny Yushchenko a legitimate path to the presidency. So Kuchma was able to deny Yushchenko a complete victory. Thus, the pact reached at that time cleared the way for Yushchenko to come to power, but protected the interests of others by diluting the power of the presidency. The result was one that neither side sought. Rather, it reflected the distribution of power at that time. It is perhaps ironic that Kuchma sought to enhance presidential power in the first instance and to limit it in the second.

The Tendency for Power to Accumulate

Crucial to the accrual and exercise of de facto power is the mutually reinforcing nature of economic and political power in the post-Soviet environment. This is not unique to Ukraine or even to the former Soviet Union. With economic and political power heavily concentrated, and with the two more easily interchangeable in Ukraine than in many other countries, those who held one kind of power could obtain the other, use it to get more of the first, and so on.

The result of all of this can be stated succinctly: in Ukraine, power has tended to concentrate very quickly—those that have it get more and more. This is the most fundamental difference between Ukraine and a liberal democracy. The ways in which power gets dispersed and divided—fair elections, sources of wealth independent of the state, a free market—are present in Ukraine very weakly if at all. Thus, under Kuchma, Ukraine developed something that resembles the "machine" politics that persisted for decades in many American cities, in which the existence of essentially democratic institutions nonetheless allowed powerful machines to rule nearly unchecked. This tendency toward concentration of power is the key criterion by which politics in Ukraine must be judged after the Orange Revolution. Only if it becomes much more difficult to concentrate power will we regard the Orange Revolution as heralding genuine change. Otherwise, it will simply mark the transfer of power from one group to another, perhaps less odious, group.

Concentration of Power as a Soviet Legacy

This prompts us to ask how it was that opponents of liberal democracy had sufficient de facto power to write the formal rules to their liking and to enforce them selectively. In terms of structure, they were able to do so because they had more power. But this phenomenon is better understood in terms of process. In Ukraine in 1991, there was never a political revolution in which de facto political power was fundamentally reordered. In contrast to more successful countries to the west, there was no "roundtable" or "pacting" process in which new institutions were negotiated between the existing elites and those in opposition.

The new rules were made by the old elites, who, while forced to make certain concessions, were able to maintain key positions. Most important in the long term was that the existing elites maintained control over economic assets. The mutually reinforcing nature of political and economic assets allowed those who had control over these in the Soviet era to maintain and strengthen their control in the post-Soviet era. Given the original distribution of power in Ukraine in 1991, the partial opening of the system made it easier, not harder, for those with power to consolidate it. This phenomenon, where partial reform of a system with concentrated power leads to continued concentration of power, is not unique to Ukraine. Having summarized the argument, we can now present it in more detail.

Societal Fragmentation as a Challenge

Various authors have located the major problem for building liberal democracy in Ukraine in the country's deep societal cleavages. The salience of regional voting patterns, augmented by threats of secession, brought these problems to the fore in late 2004. Arguments vary concerning the precise causal mechanism that links societal division and problems for building liberal democracy, but there is widespread belief that the problem is formidable for Ukraine. The problem will be examined in depth in Chapter Five, but here we will summarize the problem and its link to the overall argument.

We can focus on a relatively narrow question concerning societal cleavages and the building of democracy in Ukraine: Do societal cleavages make it impossible to design institutions that will provide for a functioning parliament and functional political party system? This question is rooted in the assertion that it is not possible to build liberal democracy without a well-functioning legislature and a structured political party system.

The challenge that Ukraine's societal divisions create is this: because the society is so divided, it naturally elects politicians and parties that have little in common with one another. This presumably impedes creation of a stable parliamentary majority that can legislate and check presidential authority. Societal divisions might impede effective democracy in three ways. First, in the creation of parties, it makes it more difficult for parties to develop into mass-based parties as opposed to narrow special-interest ones. Second, in the behavior of parties following elections, it makes it more difficult for them to build nationwide as opposed to regional groupings, and more difficult to form a parliamentary majority. Third, in elections themselves, the difficulty in forming parties that are strong across the entire country means that a single-member district plurality election law will not tend to consolidate the party system.

The problem can be seen by examining the various efforts over the years to force Leonid Kuchma from power. The first such movement arose after Kuchma's link to the murder of the journalist Heorhiy Gongadze was made public. It appeared that if he fell, rightist parties, broadly characterized as nationalist and pro-market, and based primarily among Ukrainian-speakers in western Ukraine, would come to power. The left, strongest in Russian-speaking regions of eastern Ukraine, and led by the communists, supported Kuchma rather than see their enemy come to power. Similarly, when the parliament was controlled by the left in the mid-1990s, the rightist (western Ukrainian) parties supported increased presidential power, which greatly aided Kuchma. Simply put, both left and right (which seem to equate with eastern and western Ukraine) saw Kuchma's authoritarianism as a lesser threat than the success of their adversaries. The inability of reformist Viktor Yushchenko and socialist Oleksandr Moroz—both avowed opponents of Kuchma—to join forces to oppose him in 2001-2 illustrates the seriousness of the problem.

Once the leftist Moroz and the populist Yulia Tymoshenko joined forces with Yushchenko, it became much easier to put pressure on Kuchma. Were they not unified, Yushchenko might not have won the 2004 election, or have been able to successfully challenge the fraud that occurred. Had they unified sooner, Kuchma might have been defeated in the 1999 presidential election. Similarly, once Tymoshenko and Yushchenko fell out, in September 2005, the reform coalition was unsustainable. The same dynamic allowed Viktor Yanukovych, Kuchma's designated successor, to return to power in 2006 after being seen as politically dead in 2004.

However, without denying the significance of Ukraine's societal divisions, there is reason to question whether they alone are responsible for the fragmentation of political parties and of the parliament, for two reasons. First, there are many other states with considerable ethnic, regional, linguistic, and political cleavages that nonetheless manage to create stable party structures and functioning parliaments. As various authors have pointed out, the homogeneous "nation-state" of the textbooks is largely a myth; nearly every state in the world is divided in some way, and many of them are liberal democracies. Belgium, Canada, Spain, and Switzerland are four notable cases of linguistically and regionally divided societies with robust parliamentary democracies. In other words, while Ukraine's differences are substantial, there is little comparative evidence that Ukraine is more divided than other societies that have built liberal democracy.1

Second, because Ukraine's political institutions were poorly designed, we must consider whether different institutional arrangements would provide greater incentives for diverse political forces to coalesce for the sake of gaining power. If one considers either the incredible range of parties involved in some governing coalitions (e.g., in Italy or Israel) or the incredible range of opinion included in the parties of two-party systems (e.g., moderate versus fundamentalist members of the Republican Party in the United States), it seems worth considering whether more powerful institutional incentives might induce both consolidation of parties and more reliable coalition building in Ukraine's parliament.

Even if societal cleavages can be overcome, they will have serious implications for how different institutional arrangements will perform and for what kind of institutional design will work best. Ukraine's regional cleavages make it clear that a two-party system will not result even from strong institutional measures designed to create one. Therefore Ukraine will not have a two-party system. However, comparative research indicates that presidential systems work best with two-party systems.2 We must conclude that the presidential form of government is ill-suited to building liberal democracy in Ukraine.

Institutional Design

If Ukraine is to build a successful democracy, whether its format is presidential or parliamentary, it is essential that a functioning parliament be created. By a functioning parliament, we mean one in which fairly stable parliamentary majorities are created and in which the parliament as an institution constitutes a substantial counterweight to presidential authority. Those two requirements are linked, for a parliament that has no majority, and therefore is mute as an institution, cannot provide a check on the executive branch. And in a parliament that has little real power, there is less incentive to make the compromises needed to form a majority.

Constitutional Design: The Problem of Multiparty Presidentialism

The absence of a parliamentary majority in Ukraine has been widely viewed as a justification for expanded presidential authority. However, extensive presidential authority is itself a cause of parliamentary weakness. As has been discussed extensively in the theoretical and comparative literature, the stronger the executive, the less incentive for parliamentarians to compromise in order to form a majority coalition. Assuming that the differences between different parties and politicians are genuine, they will need significant incentives to compromise to form a governing coalition. The question is especially relevant for those parties that will not lead the coalition. Because joining a coalition might have strategic costs in terms of maintaining one's ideological distinctness in the eyes of the voters, there are good reasons to avoid the necessary compromises unless the benefits are substantial.

The less power and privilege that accompanies the formation of a parliamentary majority coalition, the less reason there is to pay= the costs. In a normal parliamentary democracy, there are significant benefits to taking part in the governing coalition. For the party leading the coalition, payoffs include control of the legislative agenda and of the executive branch of government. With all this power to gain, it is relatively easy to exchange some of it with smaller parties in return for their support in building and maintaining the coalition. Thus, junior parties are often rewarded with control over certain ministries, and some of their priorities are often included in the legislative agenda of the ruling coalition.

What incentives have there been to create a coalition in Ukraine? Until 2006, the parliament had almost no power over the composition of the cabinet. The most prominent incentive for coalition formation was thus absent. Because the parliament as a whole has had little ability to enforce its legislation if the president disagrees, it is pointless to make substantial sacrifices to gain such authority. In sum, then, the very existence of a strong presidency reduces the chances of maintaining a parliamentary majority. The two should not be seen as independent of one another. Nor should the absence of a parliamentary majority be seen only as a justification for strong presidential power, and not as an effect of presidential power. In 2006, parliament gained control over the appointment of much of the cabinet, dramatically increasing the incentives to form a majority.

If the absence of a parliamentary majority is a justification for increased presidential power, it stands to reason that the president has an incentive to prevent or obstruct the formation of such a majority. As we will see, mere are plenty of examples of such behavior in Ukraine. Several efforts to form a center-right majority were foiled through pressure by Kuchma on individual members, at the very same time that Kuchma was arguing that the absence of such a majority demonstrated the need for stronger executive powers. Such behavior can only be explained by the president's stake in an ineffectual parliament. It is not clear that this incentive has diminished under the new arrangements.

All of these ways in which presidential authority undermines the construction of parliamentary majorities demonstrate why multiparty systems are seen as ill-suited for presidential forms of government.3 With a multiparty system and a strong president, the required coalition among the parties may never occur, causing the system to break down. With a two-party system, a majority in parliament is guaranteed. If the majority party is the president's party, undivided rule is produced. If the opposition wins, there can still be bargaining between the parliamentary majority and the president over legislation.

In sum, Ukraine's strong presidency is inherently problematic for the construction of liberal democracy. It will be quite difficult to build a two-party system in Ukraine, and both logic and empirical evidence indicate the difficulty of building a functional multiparty presidential system. For multiparty presidentialism to work successfully, substantial progress must be made in the consolidation of parties, which would at least begin to make the formation of a legislative majority more likely. Does this mean that Ukraine cannot build liberal democracy with a presidential system? We will not reach so categorical a conclusion, but the problems in doing so are substantial.

In December 2004 a partial reform was adopted in which control over the prime minister and government is to be shared by the president and parliament. The division of executive power between the president and prime minister and the increased influence of the parliament over the cabinet will be substantial barriers to the reestablishment of electoral authoritarianism. Conflict between the president and prime minister, and stalemate within the executive branch, is now a more significant danger.

Parliamentary Election Laws

Even with the shift to a parliamentary-presidential system, the party system will need to be consolidated in order for the parliament to function effectively. An ineffective party system, in some authors' opinions, is even more dangerous in a parliamentary system than in a presidential system, because there is no president to fall back on when the parliament functions poorly. Moreover, it will be difficult to convince many that a parliamentary system can function in Ukraine until the parliament itself shows more promise than it has so far displayed.

A detailed analysis of parliamentary election laws will be presented in Chapter Seven. Here we summarize the argument. Ukraine's 1998-2002 election laws appear as though they were designed to elect a highly fragmented parliament, especially in light of the societal cleavages in the country. In fact, it is important to recognize that the laws were as much a result of political compromise as of conscious design.

The laws in place for the 1998 and 2002 parliamentary elections almost guaranteed not only a multitude of parties but also a multitude of independents in the Ukrainian parliament. In these elections, Ukraine used a mixed system (similar to that used in Russia) in which half of the 450 members were elected in single-member districts (SMDs), and half were elected on party lists (proportional representation [PR]). Ideally, each part of this system would provide a benefit: the PR portion would strengthen parties, and create an incentive for elites to invest in parties, while the SMD portion would provide strong incentives to merge. In practice, Ukraine got the worst of each system, not the best. The SMD portion allowed a large number of independents in, while the party list system removed pressures for party consolidation.

The SMD plurality portion of the ballot is ill-suited to Ukraine for two distinct reasons. First, as mentioned above, conditions in Ukraine are far from those required for the SMD plurality system to achieve its primary benefit, a two-party system. Regional divisions ensure that different parties will be strong in different regions, such that even if a two-party system develops in the Donbas and in Galicia, the parties will not be the same in the two regions. Thus, even if a two-party system were created in each region, coalition building would still be required. This negates the main advantage of the SMD system.

Second, 4he SMD system is especially pernicious in Ukraine because it undermines the building of strong parties. One of the "footnotes" to Duverger's law (concerning the tendency for an SMD election law to lead to a two-party system) is that the law applies only where parties are already strong, such that independent candidates have little chance. Such a situation accompanies SMD plurality systems in the United States and United Kingdom, but not in Ukraine. In Ukraine, prominent individuals have more of the key resources for elections—name recognition and money—than any party has. Given such a starting point, the SMD portion of the ballot tended to perpetuate that situation. With up to a quarter of the parliament consisting of independents, constructing a stable majority has been severely hampered. Keeping independents in a coalition requires a continuing series of individual inducements. This requires extensive "log-rolling," bribery, or coercion.

Fourth, while the "mixed system" was intended to give Ukraine the benefits of SMD plurality systems and proportional representation, it in fact yielded the worst of both. In part, this is due to the conditions in Ukraine already discussed, but in part it is inherent in the mixed system. The idea was that the PR portion of the ballots would help build parties, and allow the representation of minority interests, while the SMD portion would provide a strong incentive for parties to merge (or at least not to split) to succeed in that portion of the ballot. There is some evidence that this was working.4 At the same time, it is clear that the system also contributed to the fragmentation that hampers the parliament. As already discussed, the SMD portion contributed more to the election of independents than to the coalition of parties, and the 4 percent threshold of the PR portion was so low that it further undermined party consolidation.

In sum, there are a variety of obvious ways in which Ukrainian election laws have contributed to the inefficacy of the parliament. This increased Kuchma's ability to augment his power in two ways. First, with the parliament ineffective, many people viewed increased presidential power as the only alternative to deadlock. Second, even when many in parliament became worried about Kuchma's behavior, the parliament was ineffective in checking his power. With different electoral laws, the electoral process could force parties to consolidate the broad range of societal opinion, rather than translating it wholesale into the parliament. The 2006 election indicates that this is indeed happening: only five parties entered parliament.

The Missing Dimension of Institutional Analysis: Rules on Parties and the Parliament

Given the immense political science literature on how the design of the constitution and of the electoral laws determines the nature of politics in a given country, it is surprising that little attention is given to other rules that influence party formation and consolidation. Rules governing how parties are formed and how they relate to their members exist in every country, and are so mundane that they are rarely studied in depth. In the former Soviet Union, however, we have seen these rules manipulated to serve the interests of strong presidents. Perhaps the most common ploy is to create relatively high burdens for parties to be officially registered, and to require frequent reregistration of parties, as a way to make it harder for opposition parties to stay registered. This particular tactic has not yet been used in Ukraine, but it shows how rules concerning parties can have an important effect.

In the case of Ukraine, the prominent issue is how parties relate to their members in parliament. Perhaps more destructive than any aspect of the election law has been the absence in the parliament of what is known as the "imperative mandate," in which individuals elected on party lists are required to remain members of that party, or else surrender the seat. Because the seat belonged, until 2006, not to the party that wins it but to the individual member, parties have had little ability to control their members once they are in parliament. Because they cannot "deliver" the votes that they ostensibly control, they cannot be reliable coalition partners or be treated seriously as bargainers. Their primary lever to maintain the votes of those elected on their lists is the threat to leave the individual in question off the party list at the next election. However, since many parties have not lasted more than one election cycle, that threat has not amounted to much. In essence, not only those elected as independents, but all those elected on party lists, have been independents once they enter the parliament.

This appeared to change with the new rules adopted in December 2004. Beginning with the parliament elected in 2006, members who leave their party will surrender their seats (the imperative mandate). This will not by itself guarantee party discipline because deputies may still be able to vote against the party line without actually leaving the party (there was ample evidence of this in the early days of the new parliament). But it is an important step toward strengthening the party system and facilitating the construction of majority coalitions.

The way that parliamentary business is conducted also influences the incentives and disincentives for parties to coalesce or to fragment. Typically, one would assume that parties that divide would lose resources in parliament, or at least not gain any. But because each party or "fraction" receives funding, staff, and membership on the presidium, parties that split into two receive more of those benefits as two small parties than as one big one. A strictly rational choice analysis would predict that parties would fragment to the smallest possible size in order to maximize the number of party leadership slots and staff funding available. Thus, the once-powerful Rukh split into three factions, two of which barely maintained the fourteen deputies necessary to maintain official status. The shift to a full PR system and the adoption of the imperative mandate should eliminate this problem.

To some extent, weak parties have become a self-reinforcing tendency in Ukraine. Because many parties are new, and have little to contribute in terms of money, organization, or reputation, individual politicians gain little from them. Similarly, prominent politicians have little to lose if they abandon their party. Indeed, because their party may not exist at the next election, they have little reason to invest in it. These incentives ensure that many parties indeed will remain weak, poor, and shallowly rooted in society. This further undercuts the incentives to take them seriously, and so on. This problem—the formation of political party systems where none exists—has received insufficient attention in the political science literature, in part because researchers have always assumed that parties will form spontaneously to represent societal interests. However, as many cases in the former Soviet Union and in the "third wave" more broadly indicate, strong parties do not form spontaneously in many instances. A thorough analysis of the conditions that lead to the development of strong party systems is beyond the scope of this book, but the problem is an important one. In this study, it is sufficient to note that institutional rules, such as electoral laws and the rules of parliament, can play an important role in creating the incentives for political elites to build strong parties as opposed to pursuing other avenues of influence. The adoption of a fully proportional electoral law will certainly channel more political activity into parties, but this will not necessarily lead to strong parties. They might still be created by powerful individuals for a given election, and then neglected.

Power Politics and Weak Institutions

In Ukraine, as in any other state, political disagreements are resolved through the application of power of various types. In some cases, what counts as power is strictly limited by law. For example, in a legislature, power is defined primarily by the number of votes one can muster. In other cases, there is almost no limit on what counts, as occurs in cases of civil war. If we are to understand the potential for genuine democratization in Ukraine, it is essential to understand how institutions and power are linked to one another.

Above all, it is important to recognize that institutional rules and raw power are interdependent. While in a stable rule-governed state it seems that rules define what counts as power, it is also the case that power defines how the rules are written. To take an example from perhaps the most rule-governed and stable polity in the world, power in the U.S. Senate is defined by rules that accord each senator one vote, and that allot two senators to each state. Why does a state such as Alaska with fewer man a million inhabitants have the same representation as California, which has 34 million, making the U.S. Senate one of the least representative elected bodies in the world? The answer is based on the distribution of power over 200 years ago, when neither California nor Alaska was a state: At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the small states had the power to scuttle the formation of a new constitution unless some nonrepresentativeness was built in to augment the power of small states.5

To take a more recent example from the United States, rule changes on the legality of certain types of campaign contributions (known as the McCain-Feingold law) have altered the power that different actors are able to exert in the system. In turn, those rule changes were the result of a certain constellation of political power.

In the post-Soviet states, institutional rules are confusing, poorly enforced, and often incomplete. This situation resulted from the transition from Soviet rule. It was impossible to change the rules over night, yet the rules in place from the Soviet period were ill-suited to running any kind of democracy. The rules, therefore, became less relevant.

The key question in such cases is: how are disputes resolved in institutionally weak environments? The answer has to do with power. What other resources can actors bring to bear to have ambiguous rules interpreted in their favor, or to rewrite rules in their favor, or to gain the most of whatever resource (such as votes) is defined as legitimate power by the rules?

In Ukraine, these different resources lay disproportionately in the hands of the president of the country, and in the second half of the 1990s, President Kuchma was able to take an initial advantage in power and expand it considerably. He used his de facto (informal, "practical," rather than theoretical) power to institute rules that gave him more formal powers. He was able to use those formal powers to gain informal power, and so on, in a self-reinforcing cycle.

Imbalance of power is the fundamental factor that has prevented Ukraine from becoming a liberal democracy, and that must be overcome in the post-Kuchma era. Moreover, rather than having a dominant equilibrating or "balancing" tendency, in which smaller power centers in society tend to ally to challenge a potentially dominant actor, in Ukraine the tendency is toward concentration, rather than balance, of power. Those with de facto power use it to change the formal rules (to gain more de jure power), and those with de jure power use it to acquire de facto power. Equally important, many independent actors will choose to side with the stronger power rather than the weaker, calculating that it is better to join the winner and share in the spoils than to challenge him and risk losing everything. As a result, the powerful become more so, and those with lack of access to resources find themselves increasingly shut out.

The president's power in Ukraine stems from his control over the executive branch, which is by far the most developed of Ukraine's three branches. Because it is charged with executing and administering the laws of the country, the executive branch can alter the incentives of other actors. The inability of the legislature or the courts to check presidential power stems in part from the fact that those institutions are themselves underdeveloped, and in part from the fact that they control very little in the way of direct means of influence over other actors. For this reason, the restructuring of powers between the president, prime minister, and parliament that followed the Orange Revolution is essential. Even if the president and prime minister both seek to use their executive powers to coerce other actors, they are likely to work against one another. A brief summary of the executive's de facto powers below, which until 2006 were held solely by the president, will suffice to make the point, and the problem will be examined much more closely in Chapter Nine.

Law enforcement: The executive branch controls law enforcement in the country. This makes it possible for politically motivated selective law enforcement to bolster the president's position and undermine that of those who oppose him. Not only can the president instigate unfounded investigations and criminal charges against his adversaries, but he can ensure that his allies, however criminal, are spared such inconvenience. While we associate such malfeasance with President Kuchma, there have been credible accusations of such protection by President Yushchenko as well.6 Both of these tactics can induce self-interested elites to either support the president or at least avoid obstructing his plans.

Administration of regulations: In addition to criminal law enforcement, selective enforcement of all types of civil codes from building and fire codes to taxes can have much the same effect. The president can harass opponents with administrative investigations, charges, hearings, and fines, while allies can be given a "free ride" in Ukraine's burdensome regulatory environment. It is important to recognize in this respect that Ukraine's notoriously complex tax code and regulatory regulations make selective enforcement a much more powerful tool. Because of the complexity, which international organizations such as the World Bank have consistently complained about, it is nearly impossible for a firm to be in total compliance with every regulation at all times. Hence, there is a built-in reservoir of charges to be leveled against the economic interests of any adversary of the administration. Selective law enforcement therefore often does not require falsification of evidence or false charges, either of which could run into trouble with assertive judges. Instead, by creating a system where everyone is guilty of something, all the power lies in the hands of those who decide whom and what to investigate, and whom to prosecute. Under Kuchma, these powers were firmly in the hands of the president. They will now be divided between the president and prime minister, though how this will function in practice is unclear. They have played an important role not only in undermining the financing of rival movements and in creating economic incentives for individual politicians to support the president, but also in stifling the free press. Independent and opposition news outlets have been among the most notorious targets of arbitrary enforcement of arcane regulations, often with devastating effect.

Control over the media: Under Kuchma, the presidential administration was able to control the media not only through selective enforcement of regulations, but through state ownership of a substantial portion of the most widely available media in Ukraine, most notably major television and radio stations. In media owned by the state, Kuchma was able simply to appoint managers and editors who guarantee favorable coverage both in the amount given the president versus the opposition and in the content of that coverage. Perhaps the most significant change in Ukrainian politics since the Orange Revolution has been the genuine freeing of the media from government pressure. It remains to be seen if that will last.

Control over the election process: The president appoints the head of the Central Electoral Commission, which is in charge of overseeing all of the country's elections. That this position is held by a political appointee obviously bodes ill for the impartial application of election laws and regulations. Ukraine actually has a fairly strong system of ensuring that observers from a variety of parties are able to monitor polling and the tabulation of returns. In 2004, a monumental effort on the part of opposition groups and international observers to take advantage of these provisions provided reliable evidence of election fraud. However, there is little these observers can do to pursue violations of the electoral law that take place in advance of polling day, and they cannot themselves decide to investigate dubious returns or declare elections invalid. Had Kuchma nominated a less loathsome candidate to succeed him in 2004, he likely would have prevailed by using methods of vote manipulation that could not be easily seen.

Control over patronage: All of the above-mentioned levers yield power over elites, but a key aspect of Kuchma's ability to maintain a veneer of political legitimacy was his ability to win elections, either for himself, for parties that support him, or for referenda that changed laws in his favor. These require votes, and while control over the Central Election Commission helps to avoid investigation of skewed voting results, large-scale falsification of elections is difficult to hide. It is crucial, therefore, to be able to do at least well enough in elections to keep the scale of outright fraud manageable. Control over government jobs, and the exchange of those jobs for electoral support (otherwise known as patronage), was crucial to Kuchma's political survival. The evidence of massive and well-organized efforts to use the enormous state payroll to ensure substantial pro-Kuchma voting turnout is too widespread and well-documented to be doubted. This potential has not diminished. Yushchenko and subsequent incumbents will find themselves powerfully tempted to use the same tactics, and there remains little to stop them until a serious civil service system is put in place. Yanukovych and his successors as prime minister will have the same incentives. While outright vote-rigging appears to have diminished between the 2004 and 2006 elections, voting patterns as well as anecdotal evidence indicate that patronage is widely employed to influence voting.

State Control over the Economy

The extraordinary powers held by the executive branch might not yield such power were it not for extensive state control over the economy. Corruption in state-owned enterprises is not, of course, unique to the former Soviet Union, but the extent of state ownership in these countries makes the problem especially pernicious. Under the Soviet Union, nearly the entire economy was owned by the state, and Ukraine has privatized only slowly. In Ukraine entire firms ind industries are or were owned by the state. These industries include the notoriously lucrative and corrupt natural gas sector, the arms industry, which is i major source of hard currency, and many large enterprises. State ownership yields political power in a variety of ways. First, profits can be siphoned off into the coffers of the president and his supporters, either to finance political campaigns or to buy loyalty. This can happen either on an ongoing basis or through the process of privatization. Second, while in the long-term privatization should reduce the power of the executive branch, in the short term, the ability to determine who wins prized assets, and how much they pay, can yield both political leverage and incredible financial gains for the executive. The privatization of Kryvorizhstal in 2004 to Kuchma's son-in-law and a key political ally is a good example. Third, the ability to subsidize certain state industries can either reward political allies or punish adversaries. In sum, selective application of the laws is as relevant in administering state-owned firms as in other areas of administration. One asset held by the state is especially useful in influencing parliamentarians and judges: state ownership of many of the finest apartments in Kyiv. Especially forjudges, with low nominal pay, the ability of the state to offer or withdraw housing is a powerful lever. This might be a weaker lever in the case of individuals with independent sources of wealth, but, as stressed above, almost no source of wealth in Ukraine is beyond the reach of law enforcement, codes administration, and tax administration.

The post-Orange Revolution rearrangement of the executive branch will likely dilute the president's economic power more than his law-enforcement power. A range of ministries has influence over the economy, and many of these are now controlled by the prime minister and by ministers who are nominated by the parliament, rather than the president. Thus, 2005 saw battles between Prime Minister Tymoshenko and President Yushchenko for control over the economy, including over the political use of that control. While this was not the best arrangement, it was an improvement over a situation in which one actor could use these assets without any struggle. The major concern when Yanukovych returned as prime minister in August 2006 was whether his control over economic ministries would allow him to gather the extent of economic power that Kuchma had, and if so, whether he could then use this power to undermine institutional checks on his power.

The Reinforcing Nature of Political and Economic Power

Political power and economic power in Ukraine are connected in part through state ownership in the economy, which creates some possibility for those with political power to turn it into economic power. But the influence runs the other way as well. In a society in which most people are impoverished, money can be very influential. Moreover, both the status and enforcement of laws governing the use of money in politics (e.g., campaign finance laws, enforcement of bribery laws) is incredibly weak. Therefore, actors who have accumulated wealth can relatively easily convert it into political power, most notably by obtaining a seat in the Ukrainian parliament, which has been compared to the New York Stock Exchange as the center of the country's business dealings. As a result of this dual link between economic and political power, the two reinforce one another and tend to become nearly synonymous, as they have in Russia. The advantage for the wealthy in becoming politically powerful is not unique to Ukraine, as demonstrated by the Bush family in the United States, or Silvio Berlusconi in Italy. But in Ukraine there are no significant barriers to using money to gain political power, and there is an extraordinary capacity to use political power to make money.

This connection between money and political power has important consequences. Because economic power yields political power, one way to erode an adversary's political power is to attack his or her economic base. The executive branch has a huge advantage in this regard, for all the reasons outlined above. Moreover, because economic power and political power are connected, the highly concentrated nature of political power tends to cause a highly concentrated distribution of economic power, as the authorities use their power to grab more for themselves and to exclude others, regardless of whether the primary motive in doing so is economic or political. This is perhaps the key difference between states such as Ukraine and states that have achieved liberal democracy: in liberal democracies, the connections in both directions between economic and political power are loose enough so that one does not simply translate into the other, and since both economic and political power tend to be comparatively widely distributed, no one has enough power to easily seize that of others. In Ukraine, this is precisely what has happened. Kuchma's successors will be just as tempted to pursue these strategies as was Kuchma. Murky dealings in the energy sector indicated that Yushchenko's associates were quite willing to use their government power and connections to control lucrative businesses.7

The mutually reinforcing nature of economic and political power has gained increasing attention in the literature on comparative politics. Joel Hellman, for example, contradicts the standard assumption that the economic "losers" from the first stage of economic transition are the actors most likely to halt further reform. Instead, as Hellman shows in a persuasive cross-national study, those who benefit economically from the first stage of transition, when economic arrangements are in an intermediate zone between plan and market that yields extraordinary profits for some actors, seek to halt further reform in order to "freeze" the economy in this highly lucrative intermediate position. To the extent that they are able to do so, their continuing ability to extract monopoly rents and other extraordinary profits increases their political power. This combination of factors, he argues, leads to a "partial reform equilibrium," by which he means that partial reform may not be a midpoint in an inevitable transition, but a situation that is very stable in its own right. Powerful economic interests gain political power, and use it for further economic gain, a phenomenon that Hellman and others refer to as "state capture" by economic interests. There are some things to quibble with in applying the concept of state capture to Ukraine. Most notably, it is not clear whether economic interests captured the state or the state captured economic interests. Ultimately, to the extent that the two become one and the same, the distinction is perhaps unimportant. But it is worth emphasizing that in Ukraine, of the two sources of power, state power has come to dominate. It is easier for the state to capture economic assets or to dispossess its enemies of them than it is for wealthy individuals or groups to penetrate the state. The state dominates in Ukraine in large part because its power is concentrated so heavily in one hierarchical structure, the executive branch.8

A similar argument is made by Anders Aslund, Peter Boone, and Simon Johnson, referring to what they call "the under-reform trap."

[I]t is now clear that many former Soviet bloc countries have become trapped in a rent-seeking equilibrium. Slow and ineffectual reform created the opportunity for corrupt bureaucrats and politicians to become entrenched and extract bribes from firms. High inflation offered huge temporary rents, and the longer it lasted the richer the rent seekers became. Slow privatization facilitated extortion by government officials.9

The Effect of a Unified State Structure

Presidential power in Ukraine is concentrated even further by virtue of the fact that Ukraine is a unitary state. In contrast to federal states, there is no division of powers between national, regional or state, and local governments. Rather, the assumption is that national laws and national level authorities supersede and overrule regional and local counterparts. As a result, there is no limit to the jurisdiction of the national executive branch, and no place for strong alternative centers of power to easily build up. Ukraine is not unique in this regard; both France and the UK have heavily centralized states (but both also have well-developed alternative centers of power stemming from other sources). The importance of federalism as a check on national power was important not only in the design of the U.S. Constitution, but in the formation of the German Constitution after World War II, in which it was argued that it would be much more difficult for authoritarianism to reemerge if alternative bases of de facto administrative power were created at the level of the Lander (states). We have seen the phenomenon in Russia, where Vladimir Putin successfully made the position of governor an appointed rather than an elected post, removing a major check on his power.10

In Ukraine, the question of federalism has been discussed in terms of the regional diversity of the country, where federalism has been seen as a way of giving greater recognition and autonomy to Ukraine's diverse regions. Many have seen federalism as a means to secession, rather than as a source of checks and balances. Nationalists and statists, therefore, including both Presidents Kravchuk and Kuchma, have placed a high priority on maintaining a unified state. Less noticed, however, is how the unified state leaves the power of the executive undivided, reaching from Bankivska Street in Kyiv down to every city, town, and village in Ukraine. One example is illustrative of the broader phenomenon. Ukraine's schools are governed by the Ministry of Education in Kyiv. The centralization of the system means that every teacher in every school in the country, not to mention the administrators and janitors, is an employee of the Ministry of Education, appointed by the president. Any of those roughly 600,000 employees can be fired if they displease their supervisor, which in some cases has been defined as voting "incorrectly." With patronage power undivided territorially, not only is the president's power massive, but there is a reduced basis for an alternative power center to be built on a separate regional patronage structure.

Similarly, the unified structure of the state concentrates the president's power over law enforcement. Rather than having federal, regional, and local police forces, every police force in the country is part of the central Ministry of Internal Affairs. The direct line of authority from local law enforcement to a politically appointed minister makes it easier for selective law enforcement to be practiced in the president's favor and more difficult for other actors to make use of this resource.

It should be clear, then, that this argument about federalism is not based on the notion that law enforcement or patronage would be less politically motivated in a federal system—there is simply no reason to believe that. Rather, the argument is that in a federal system, administrative powers such as patronage and selective law enforcement are divided between local, regional, and federal authorities, and hence there is some built-in tendency (though certainly no guarantee) for these powers to be divided between different political interests, providing the basis for competition between opposing centers of power rather than the concentration of power within a single actor or network.

Machine Politics in Ukraine

To summarize, the extraordinary informal power held in the executive branch constitutes a major barrier to the development of liberal democracy in Ukraine. This power stems not primarily from the formal institutional design of presidential powers as laid out in the constitution, but from the executive branch's de facto hold on the levers that shape the incentives of other political actors. While some powers were deliberately given to the president in the hope that a strong president would bring speedy reform, many other powers were inherited in the state apparatus left over after the collapse of the Soviet Union. A primary goal of this book is to show how the various aspects of the Ukrainian system have combined to produce the results that we see. It is therefore important to try to characterize this combination of extraordinary "informal" and "de facto" powers possessed by the executive branch.

Overall, Ukrainian politics since the late 1990s can be characterized as "machine politics," with certain analytical similarities to the practice in some U.S. cities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries of politics that is usually linked with that term.11 Informally, one might define "machine politics" as a form of politics in which the state is turned into a giant machine for collecting votes, such that political control is perpetuated indefinitely until some external shock causes a change in power. The term "machine" is appropriate here because there has been, especially under Kuchma, a certain logic and regularity to the operation of the system. Over time, it can become highly regularized into a nearly bureaucratic set of practices. Indeed, in several U.S. cities, the "machine" itself was viewed as the most defining political institution in the system. Specifically, machine politics in Ukraine today consists of three main features, which have endured past the Orange Revolution:

• Use of state jobs to gain votes (patronage);

• Use of selective law enforcement to punish adversaries and create impunity for allies;

• Use of control (administrative or ownership) over the economy and over law enforcement to bring in wealth either for personal gain or for reelection.

To some extent, these tactics are used even in the most liberal democracies.12 For example, the practice of giving high government jobs to political supporters is well-established in U.S. politics. The key difference, however, is the scope. In the United States, the top levels of officials are "political appointees," while the hiring and firing of the vast majority of government employees are conducted through the civil service system, which was instituted precisely to protect against patronage politics.13 Thus, patronage in the United States can gain a candidate the support of a relatively small number of influential, wealthy, and ambitious people, but it cannot by itself cajole massive numbers of state employees to vote in a certain way.

There are, of course, differences between machine politics in other contexts and that practiced in the former Soviet Union today. Two of these are worth highlighting. First, in the United States, politicians were always limited in their ability to control the press. The muckraking tradition in American journalism coupled with the independent financial base for many newspapers made it more difficult to control the press, and there were virtually no state-owned media. So while there were always pro-machine newspapers, opposition newspapers, often with financial support from beyond the jurisdiction of the machine, continually challenged the machines.

Second, and perhaps more important, the most powerful political machines in U.S. history were always based in a single city, and could therefore always be challenged from outside. There was never a successful attempt to build a nationwide political machine in the United States. Such a project was inherently limited not only by the political diversity of the country, but by the relatively limited role of the state in the economy, and by the presence of a federal system, which produced alternative bases of power. Because political machines in the United States were locally based, they were often challenged by law enforcement either at the state or national level, which were beyond the machine's control.

In Ukraine, while Kuchma's ability to control the press was nearly complete, it was not enough to preserve his machine's power. Ukraine's regional diversity, so widely viewed as a barrier to democracy, emerged in 2004 as a source of liberal democracy: no matter how much power Kuchma accumulated over the press and over people, the western part of the country simply was not going to vote for a machine boss from Donetsk.14 Similarly, the fact that an entire region of Ukraine detests Yushchenko is an important barrier to his becoming too powerful.

The Nonrevolutionary Nature of Political Change in Ukraine

If it was so easy for Ukrainian elites to maintain and consolidate their power following the collapse of the Soviet Union, two related questions arise. First, how did this machine come into being? Second, how did this machine develop in countries such as Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia, while other post-Soviet states (e.g., the Baltic republics) as well as other postcommunist states developed more open and liberal democracies? The answer to both questions lies in the nature of the transition from communist rule.15 In Ukraine and most of the other post-Soviet states, the primary transition in 1991 was to national independence. In terms of politics, and especially in terms of institutions, change was evolutionary rather then revolutionary. The effort to build a separate state trumped the effort to completely change the political institutions, the structure of the economy, and the political elite in the country. The assumption made by many external observers as well as many inside the country was that those changes could be made over time once the new state was set up.

However, as the discussion in the previous chapter indicated, overturning authoritarianism did not produce an automatic transition to democracy. Further liberalization did not occur automatically. In Ukraine, the Soviet elite maintained most of their power after August 1991, and they had little interest in a thorough reform of the system. In contrast, the more liberal elements of society, such as the "national democrats," did not gain substantial power in 1991. Nor did these "national democrats" put a high priority on liberalization. They focused instead on establishing sovereignty, building the state, and strengthening national identity. Thus, a door was opened in 1991, but for various reasons Ukraine was unable to walk through it. Once a new system began operating, that door had closed by 1995. In other states, such as Poland, the Czech Republic, and the Baltic states, the fall of communist regimes was seized upon quickly. Roundtable talks were held, new constitutions were written, and new authorities were elected. In some of these states, rapid regime change was combined with rapid change in economic ownership, which also tended to distribute power away from those who had always held it. As a result, powerful constituencies for further reform developed in these countries. In Ukraine and similar cases, power remained in the hands of those who sought to block reform altogether or to create partial reforms that created vast opportunities for enrichment.

The comparative politics literature on transitions has focused increasingly on the process of change, rather than on the structural prerequisites. Karl and Schmitter contend that "the mode of transition from autocratic rule is a principal determinant of whether democracy will emerge."16 Various researchers have focused on the role of "founding elections" in promoting further liberalization.17 Simply put, the sooner new elections (especially parliamentary) are held after a change in regime, the more likely it is for further reform to occur. The logic of such an argument is simple. At the time of the regime change, the existing elite has been rejected and is often in disarray, especially if it has been organized by a communist party that is now defunct or banned. At this time, the playing field between new parties and regrouping old forces is relatively level. However, the longer the old forces are left in power after the regime change, the more able they are to reorganize, to close off access to new parties, and to write rules that advantage themselves.

A similar argument is made by Hellman and others about economic change. Hellman finds that the biggest backlash against reform occurs not in countries that liberalize quickly, but in those that liberalize slowly. In countries where economic reform comes quickly, constituencies develop that benefit from the new arrangements, and seek to defend them and push them even further. Thus, even in states such as Poland and Hungary where leftist (reformed communist) forces returned to power in subsequent elections, they made little effort to turn back liberal reforms. In contrast, countries that reformed slowly developed an economic "gray area" between plan and market that allowed well-placed actors to get richer than they could either in a fully planned or fully marketized system.

A prominent example in Ukraine was the de facto liberalization of the money market combined with profligate monetary policy and a continuation of low-interest government loans to firms. Those who had access to low interest loans during high inflation could easily convert the loans into dollars. They could then wait until the Ukrainian currency depreciated further. Once this happened, a fraction of the dollars were sufficient to pay off the loan in devalued karbovanets. The currency trader could pocket the difference. When inflation was running 100 percent per month, those with access to government loans could double their money in a month (while passing the costs to the state budget). This could occur only with this transitional mix of market and nonmarket mechanisms, and with bad monetary policies. Those with access to these loans had powerful incentives to prevent either full liberalization or a return to state planning, and once this system started, they had a lot of money with which to influence politicians.

Why was there no fundamental political revolution in Ukraine in 1991 to go along with the revolution of national independence? A good deal has been written on this question, and only a sketch has been provided here. The simplest explanation is that forces supporting both independence and reform felt that they could not pursue the two goals simultaneously. Given this dilemma, they had to give first priority to establishing independence. From Ukraine's previous bid for independence at the end of World War I, many had taken the lesson that division among Ukrainians was fatal to the cause of independence. So when a group of leading communists, led by Leonid Kravchuk, was willing to take Ukraine into independence in return for an evolutionary change in domestic politics and economics, nationalists and national democrats took the deal.

This was probably not unreasonable, for it did not appear at the time that nationalists by themselves would have the power to seize the state and gain independence from the Soviet Union. Indeed, had the nationalists first taken over the state, support for independence in parts of Ukraine might have been much lower. So while much of Ukraine's lack of reform can be traced to the tactical decision made by nationalists to sacrifice a political revolution to guarantee national independence, they should not be judged too harshly, because this was probably the most they could get in 1991. This dilemma was not faced by liberalizers in the Baltic states, where support for independence was much less contested than it was in Ukraine. For this reason, many authors point to Ukraine's fragmented or weak national identity as the reason for its lack of deeper economic and political reform. While this explanation is sometimes overemphasized, there is undoubtedly some validity to it, especially in considering the options open to political reformers in 1991.

Because Ukraine's independence left most domestic arrangements intact, the old elite had little trouble in transferring their power resources from the old system to the new one. Ironically, the new arrangements actually magnified many of their existing powers. For example, without rapid privatization, Soviet-era factory managers simply became post-Soviet factory managers. But with a partially marketized economy and ties to the world economy, they now had options for enrichment that did not exist previously. In the confused legal environment of the early 1990s, they could sell assets abroad for hard currency and pocket the proceeds. Or they could privatize assets to themselves and their close associates at cut-rate prices. Similarly, state bureaucrats in the old system simply moved to the new system, but the partial liberalization of the economy gave many of them vastly increased opportunities to demand bribes and kickbacks. Most significantly, perhaps, there were no new parliamentary elections until 1994. This gave existing elites plenty of time to make the transition to the new system, and to put rules in place that would make it more difficult to oust them. This helps explain why there was essentially no change from the law used to elect the Soviet parliament to that used to elect the first post-Soviet parliament in 1994.

The maintenance of power was closely intertwined in economic and political spheres. Powerful business people used their money and their patronage to secure spots in parliament. State officials used their power over firms, universities, tax collection, and so on, to accrue great wealth. The inability of the new state to govern itself meant that bureaucrats used their official authority largely for their own enrichment. Even schools and universities were subject to the trend, as school officials sold everything they could, from entrance spots to diplomas, and pocketed the proceeds. While privatization of firms proceeded slowly in Ukraine, privatization of the state took place quickly and thoroughly.


This chapter has laid out a general scheme of the problems in Ukrainian politics. To recapitulate, the origins of the system lie in the concentration of political power in the Soviet system, which was transferred largely intact to the executive branch in independent Ukraine. This initial predominance of executive power has been maintained and exaggerated by the inability of the parliament to provide a sufficient institutional counterweight. Initially, this was due to ideological fragmentation as well as to the electoral law. At the root of the system is the concentration of de facto political power in the executive branch. It is not yet clear that the political and institutional changes ushered in during the Orange Revolution will cure these fundamental problems, but there is reason for hope.


1. This point is stressed in particular by Taras Kuzio, Ukraine: State and Nation (London: Routledge, 1998).

2. Scott Mainwaring, "Presidentialism, Multiparty Systems, and Democracy: The Difficult Equation," Comparative Political Studies 26, no. 2 (1993) 198-230. For a dissenting view, see Mark J. Gasiorowski and Timothy J. Power, "Institutional Design and Democratic Consolidation in the Third World," Comparative Political Studies 30, no. 2 (April 1997): 123-55.

3. Mainwaring, "Presidentialism, Multiparty Systems, and Democracy."

4. See Misa Nishikawa and Erik Herron, "Mixed Electoral Rules' Impact on Party Systems," Electoral Studies 23 (December 2004): 753-68. The effects of the mixed system will be discussed in much more detail in Chapter Seven.

5. This is, of course, somewhat simplified, but the basic point is valid: were it not for their crucial role in adopting the constitution, the smaller states could not have prevailed on this point.

6. Roman Kupchinsky, "Ukraine: Battle Against Corruption Grinds to a Halt," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, September 28,2005, 2005/9/0DF313C3-32FD-4B91-B524-0D022F46F2C2.html.

7. It is hard to know exactly who benefited from the bizarre gas deal that Yushchenko agreed to with Russian negotiators in early 2006, but it is hard to avoid the conclusion that people close to Yushchenko stood to benefit immensely. The president's unwillingness to clarify the details of the agreement and the owners of the firm RosUkrEnergo contributed to the impression that he and his colleagues had something to hide.

8. See Joel S. Hellman, "Winners Take All: The Politics of Partial Reform in Postcommunist Transitions," World Politics 50, no. 2 (January 1998): 203-34.

9. Anders Aslund, Peter Boone, and Simon Johnson, "Escaping the Under-Reform Trap," IMF Staff Papers 48, Special Issue (2001): 88-108. The quotation here is from page 89.

10. Strobe Talbott, "The Strains of Putin's Clampdown," Financial Times, September 27, 2004,19.

11. See Paul D'Anieri, "The Last Hurrah: The 2004 Ukrainian Presidential Elections and the Limits of Machine Politics," Communist and Post-Communist Societies 38 (2005): 231-49.

12. See B. Guy Peters and Jon Pierre, Politicization of the Civil Service in Comparative Perspective: The Quest for Control (London: Routledge, 2004).

13. See Ari A. Hoogenboom, Outlawing the Spoils: A History of the Civil Service Reform Movement, 1865-1883 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1968).

14. This was not impossible to anticipate. See Paul D'Anieri, "The Mitigation of Ethnic Conflict in Ukraine: The Mysterious Case of the State that Didn't Collapse," paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston, August 31-September 3,1998.

15. This argument echoes that of Michael McFaul, "The Fourth Wave of Democracy and Dictatorship: Noncooperative Transitions in the Postcommunist World," in After the Collapse of Communism: Comparative Lessons of Transition, ed. McFaul and Kathryn Stoner-Weiss (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004) 58-95.

16. See, for example, Terry Lynn Karl and Philippe C. Schmitter, "Modes of Transitions in Latin America, Southern and Eastern Europe," International Social Science Journal-US (May 1991): 269-84.

17. John T. Ishiyama, "Transitional Electoral Systems in Post-Communist Eastern Europe," Political Science Quarterly 112, no. 1 (Spring 1997): 95-115.