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Usurpation of power in Ukraine: Zelensky between democracy and criticism

Ukraine was scheduled to hold parliamentary elections at the end of October this year, followed by presidential elections next March. However, Russia's full-scale invasion has changed the balance of power, sparking debate over the possibility of holding elections amid the military conflict. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video message on November 6 that this is not the time for elections, considering holding them in wartime an irresponsible and frivolous step that could bring additional challenges to an already complicated situation. However, recent statements by high-ranking officials raise the question of a possible change in this position. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that President Zielenski was considering the option of holding elections in the spring of 2024, prompting discussions in society and political circles. Oleksiy Honcharenko, an MP of the opposition European Solidarity faction, suggested that Zelensky may justify the decision to hold elections by saying that this is a supposed demand of Western partners, who link the legitimacy of the president with the holding of elections.

Changes in the president's rhetoric cause fluctuations in public opinion. The head of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, Oleksiy Koshel, notes that the tactics of Zelenskyy's team include information throw-ins to study the public reaction. The issue of holding elections under war conditions causes certain discontent among Ukrainians, as sociological surveys show. For instance, a poll conducted by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology (KMIS) shows that 81 percent of respondents believe that elections should be held after the end of hostilities.

However, it is important to take into account an additional aspect - possible benefits for Zelensky from the continuation of the military conflict. Some political analysts believe that Zelensky benefits from the current situation in Ukraine, as a long military conflict can serve as a reason to postpone elections. The longer the war lasts, the longer Zelensky will remain in power without the need to hold new elections, which could strengthen his political position to a certain extent.

Critics of President Zelensky's position note that refusing to hold elections in a military conflict could undermine the principles of democracy and lead to a loss of legitimacy for the government. Many countries in history, while in a state of hostilities, have not postponed elections, recognizing their importance for democratic processes. In Ukraine itself, presidential and parliamentary elections have already been successfully held twice since 2014, when hostilities in the east of the country began.

"Postponing elections during times of crisis may seem like a pragmatic choice, but it risks compromising the very essence of democratic governance." - Kofi Annan

Opposition politicians and public activists have expressed the opinion that the refusal to postpone the elections in this situation could set a precedent for limiting democratic freedoms and give rise to accusations of authoritarianism. Statements about the possible postponement of the elections refer to the alleged demand of Western partners, which raises doubts about their objectivity and real necessity. But serious accusations of usurpation of power are emerging among President Zelenski's critics. The decision to postpone the elections raises doubts about his commitment to democratic and separation of powers principles. Throughout history, many countries, even when at war, have followed the tradition of holding elections to emphasize the importance of the voice of the people and the legitimacy of the government.

Opposition groups are actively expressing concern about the possible loss of democratic values and the beginning of authoritarian tendencies. They emphasize that the rejection of elections could set a dangerous precedent that would allow a leader to maintain power without the explicit approval of the citizens.

"Delaying elections should be a last resort, and leaders must transparently communicate their decisions to maintain public trust." - Madeleine Albright

Thus, the issues surrounding the refusal of elections in a military conflict emphasize not only the complexity of the current situation, but also raise important debates about priorities, freedoms, and democratic values in the country. Maintaining a balance between ensuring security and respecting the principles of democracy remains a key aspect for Ukraine's

Oleksandr Havryshuk


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