October in Kiev has brought a gorgeous Indian summer. The reprieve from autumn’s slow creep towards winter gives the city a feeling of hope as it prepares for parliamentary elections on 26 October. Ubiquitous political advertisements for the 29 parties running appear to indicate that change is coming. However, a deeper look at the socio-political environment in Kiev suggests that this picture of progress may be a façade. For most Ukrainians, the optimistic political advertisements (which were almost completely absent during the presidential election in May) contrast sharply with their own experiences. The war in Donbass and the worsening economic and social situation are likely to bring more people to parliament with no appetite for dialogue. Rather, many will want to fight — literally — for what they believe is right. Petro Poroshenko’s bloc “party of peace” is the darling of pre-election polls. Ukraine’s president has designed the bloc, which has been campaigning in the name of unity, to include civil activists, soldiers fighting in Donbass, oligarchs’ proxies, traditional regional power brokers and former Party of Regions lawmakers.
Poroshenko has also tried to keep the ruling coalition in check. First, he managed to essentially absorb the Udar party after cutting a deal with Kiev mayor and former boxer Vitaliy Klitschko and oligarch Dmitry Firtash. For his loyalty, Klitschko received support from Poroshenko in the mayoral election, which he easily won.
More than half of Ukrainians oppose Poroshenko’s peace plan, according to a recent poll
Second, Poroshenko appears to have made a “non-aggression” pact with Svoboda, the radical Ukrainian nationalist party. Third, he seems to have made a tacit agreement with Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s National Front – the “war party” – to weaken the actual military populists – Oleh Lyashko’s Radical party and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna.