Wednesday, 7 December 2016

New Atlanticist: Trump, Brexit, and the Myth of Ukrainian Nationalism

New Atlanticist: Trump, Brexit, and the Myth of Ukrainian Nationalism

by Peter Dickinson

"Since the 2014 Revolution of Dignity, the Ukrainian political arena has witnessed the arrival of numerous new nationalistic parties. However, not one of them has emerged as a serious political contender. Opinion polls consistently place overall support for Ukraine’s nationalist parties at between six and eight percent. These surveys tally directly with the results of the autumn 2014 parliamentary election, in which none of the country’s nationalist political parties passed the five percent threshold. The May 2014 presidential race saw nationalist candidates sink without a trace. As if to underline the point, Jewish presidential hopeful Vadim Rabinovich famously received a greater share of the votes than the collective support secured by all the nationalist candidates.

Compared to the rest of Europe, where it is now commonplace for nationalist parties to win upwards of a quarter of the vote, support for nationalists in Ukraine is strikingly low. Given the circumstances in today’s Ukraine, this is particularly noteworthy. Ukrainian society is currently in the midst of a post-revolutionary national awakening while also engaged in what many regard as a war of independence against Russia. If nationalist parties cannot flourish in such a frenzied environment, one has to concede that Ukrainian society does not currently contain the seeds of such fervent.

It is also worth considering the perspectives of Europe’s self-styled nationalist parties. Virtually all of them actively ally themselves with President Vladimir Putin’s Russia and denigrate Ukraine. They receive financing and favors from the Kremlin, lavish praise on Putin as a model nationalist leader, attend far-right forums hosted in Russia, and dutifully accept roles as election observers in Moscow’s hybrid war pantomime. In contrast, nobody from any of Europe’s prominent nationalist groups has come out in support or sympathy for Ukraine’s revolution—a particularly strange state of affairs given the Kremlin’s oft-stated claims of rampant Ukrainian fascism."

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