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You're reading: In Ukraine, right is left and left is right

In Ukraine,
however, rather than being viewed through the lens of left vs. right,
politicians and parties have generally been classified as either “pro-Russian”
or “pro-Western.” This dichotomy was especially prevalent in the years leading
up to and following 2004’s Orange Revolution. However, it should have been
obvious that in order for Ukraine to mature as a democracy, a modicum of “left”
and “right” parties (as defined by Western principles) would eventually have to
appear.

Today, with
the narrative of President Viktor Yanukovych as a “pro-Russian” politician
having collapsed, and with the Victor Yushchenko-Yulia Tymoshenko duopoly of
2005-09 having been unsuccessful in achieving deep integration with the West,
the “pro-Western, pro-Russian” template has lost much of its relevance in
explaining the “who’s” and “why’s” of Ukrainian politics.

While there
has been ad infinitum discussion of the personal animosity between Yushchenko
and Tymoshenko that led to the paralysis of the “Orange years,” another
important reason for the dysfunction of the Orange government has been largely
overlooked. Tymoshenko is a politician with left-leaning, interventionist views
on economic and social policy, while Yushchenko was anchored in center-right
principles of individual responsibility and laissez-faire capitalism. Theirs
was therefore a political cohabitation that was problematic from the start.

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