Ukraine vote goes to the highest bidder
The Guardian, Wednesday 10 February 2010 Article historyUkraine's presidential election should be worrying for everybody interested in democracy (International observers hail Ukraine election as fair, 9 February). Essentially, it points to the commodification of politics. What happened was that one candidate (Yanukovych), convicted of manslaughter and robbery, was languishing in the polls with minimal support. He was backed by murky oligarchs, for commercial reasons. With their financial backing, the candidate hired a US firm that had packaged several Republican presidential candidates. Charging millions of dollars, they moved in, repackaged his soundbites, made sure he did not appear on a pre-arranged TV debate with his opponent, and turned his campaign around. He was sold well. Meanwhile, the other candidate (Tymoshenko) hired the firm that had advised Obama, led by David Axelrod. This was to no avail, given the tactics of the other US firm.
To complete the depressing process, many Ukrainians advertised their votes on the internet. Where is satire when we need it? Characteristically, the BBC World Service reported the election purely in personal terms, without recognition of what had transpired. One commentator said there was no interest in the US. In reality, the election was run by two US firms. This happened in a European country of nearly 50 million people. The market society is marching on, and we citizens should be alarmed.
Dr Guy Standing
Professor of economic security,
University of Bath