Servant of the People, the party of President Volodymyr Zelensky, is new in virtually all senses of the word: It has been a real political force for less than a year and most of its lawmakers are new to politics.
But at a Feb. 15 convention, the party announced steps both to further prepare its lawmakers for policymaking and to clarify its ideology.
“The party will spend a third of its budget on education,” said Oleksandr Korniyenko, deputy head of the Servant of the People faction in parliament.
Lawmakers will continue their education at a newly created Civic Hub at the Parkovy convention center in Kyiv, the venue where the party gathering was held and, according to party officials, Servant of the People’s new official office.
The Civic Hub education center will organize trainings for both lawmakers and deputies of local councils, Yevheniya Kravchuk, another deputy party head, announced.
Servant of the People took parliament by a landslide in July during snap elections. The pro-presidential party now holds 254 of 424 seats, a single-party majority unseen in modern Ukrainian history.
In August, before the first session of parliament, the newly elected lawmakers attended to weeklong intensive economic training at a mineral water resort in the town of Truskavets in western Ukraine.
However, earlier this month, Korniyenko said that the party “cannot afford to convene lawmakers in expensive hotels.” The Civic Hub at Parkovy appears to solve this problem.
Unlike the first training, called “School of Ze Lawmaker,” training courses at Parkovy will focus on internal and external communication strategies.
Along the with the education center, Kravchuk introduced an Information Hub for party lawmakers. Its aim is “to tell people about ourseves via every possible means of communication, she later wrote on Facebook.
Next week, the Hub will release the first issue of the Servant of the People newspaper, which will feature op-eds by lawmakers, an explanation of reform efforts and infographics.
The party also plans to launch Sluga TV (“Servant TV” in Ukrainian), an online streaming television channel focusing on lawmakers’ daily lives.
Servant of the People’s website will also be updated so that every lawmaker will have an “e-office” with personal information, photos and videos, Kravchuk said.
“It will be a mini-Wikipedia about everyone,” she said.
For international communications, the party will create an English version of its website and newsletter with the latest updates.
Besides its education and media strategy, Servant of the People also elected the party supreme council and discussed the issue of decentralizaiton with heads of united territorial communities, groupings of smaller settlements into administrative entities, at the convention.
But the most interesting development was likely its statement on ideology.
Since its foundation, Servant of the People has been difficult to pin down ideologically. Ruslan Stefanchuk, the deputy speaker of parliament and the chief ideologist of the party, has previously described it as libertarian.
However, during the Feb. 15 convention, the party offered a broad and unusual description of its ideological positions.
“Ukraine has been dragged into the trap of different ideologies: nationalism, communism and neoliberalism,” Korniyenko said.
Instead of this, he proposed that the country should follow a “third path.” This approach would be called “Ukrainian centrism,” the Novoye Vremya news site reported.
“We are patriots and even nationalists when it comes to defending our state. But we are humanists when it comes to defending the human right to live the way one chooses. We are libertarians when it comes to the markets for land, amber and gambling,” he said. “But despite this, we are statists when we demand that tax regulations are followed, when we liquidate corruption schemes. We are liberals when we defend people’s economic freedom. And we are socialists when it comes to protecting the poor and pensioners.”
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