Winds of Change: What Next for Ukraine?
Volodymyr Zelensky, a novice in Ukrainian politics won the presidential seat by a landslide vote on April 21. He satisfied the nation's demand to see 'new faces' in politics, and to punish the old corrupt elites, but he also brought in a lot of uncertainty about the future of Ukraine's foreign policy, domestic reform agenda, and the settlement of the conflict in Donbas. Is he another extension of oligarchic interests or a force of change? To consolidate his mandate and capitalize on the unprecedented high societal support he received, President Zelensky called for snap elections set for July 21. According to most recent polls, his party "Sluha Narodu" (The Servant of the People, with a popularity rating of 47%), a new political force which carries the name of a popular TV series where Zelensky played the role of the Ukrainian president, may take the majority of seats and set all other parties in opposition. Other parties that have chances to enter parliament are the pro-Russian "Opposition Platform - Za Zhittya" (11.6%), "European Solidarity" (8.2%), "Holos" (6.6%), and "Batkyvshchyna" (6.4%).
Matthias Luttenberg, Head of Division on Bilateral Relations at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin explained the Chancellery's view on the election outcome, expectations from the new President, and possible implications for the future of the Normandy format and the Minsk agreements. Dr. Iryna Solonenko, DGAP's Associate Fellow discussed the profile of President Zelensky and his political team, what Europe can expect from his presidency in terms of foreign and domestic policies, and what his victory means for the parliamentary elections. Prof. Dr. Andreas Heinemann-Grüder, Senior Fellow at the Bonn International Centre for Conversion analyzed more systemic issues such as what does Zelensky's victory mean for Ukraine, its society and political establishment, and what does this election say about the Ukrainian society. Panelists also discussed what Zelensky's victory means for the broader post-Soviet region and what message it sends to other post-soviet elites.