Ukraine: A Bad Case of Democratic Dictatorship

As you may or may not know from my previous postings that I regard placing political power in the hands of one person — be it a president or a prime minister — a form of democratic dictatorship. It is democratic simply because the population has elected these rulers directly or through their representatives. As an alternative, the Swiss do not have either a president or a prime minister, but a Federal Council of seven co-equal individuals.

This unfortunate state of affairs of one-man rule is offset in federal states, i.e., countries which are divided into regions with locally elected governors and mayors, with locally managed police, prosecutors, and courts — as is, for example, the case in the United States. So, in such countries the central dictatorship is limited.

Not so in Ukraine. Ukraine is not federated, nor, for that matter, even properly decentralized — except for mayors and local legislative councils. The president is elected by the whole country. And he makes five top-level appointments: the prime minister, the head of the army, the prosecutor general, the minister of internal affairs (police), and the minister of foreign affairs.
(The other minsters are appointed by the prime minister.) The president also has some influence on the appointment and dismissal of judges.

If any of these appointees does not do the will of the President, they are dismissed. So, do you think they do the President’s will? Specifically, there is central (i.e., President’s) control of whether to prosecute or not, and there is central control of when or where to send the police or army.

The current President of Ukraine is Volodymyr Zelensky, a professional comic with no political experience. The parliament is totally controlled by the President’s political party. He is a Russian-speaker, who is rapidly trying to improve his command of the Ukrainian language. His sympathies are clearly with Russian speakers. This was evident for years in his televised comedy show which was done in Russian.

Because of the ongoing conflict with Russia in the Donbass region, the President’s will is here especially critical. So, what is his strategy in face of Russian aggression? Any country with a patriotic leader would welcome volunteer troops to fight against an agressor. But not this President. He wants to disperse volunteer combatants, and leave the fighting to the regular army. Furthermore, he is prosecuting volunteer fighters — calling them “terrorists.” And what is he doing with the regular army? He is withdrawing it from the front, and letting the aggressors advance by taking more territory.

I call this “treason,” but then what can you expect from a Russian democratically elected dictator?

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