Oleksandr Fisun "Informal Politics and Neopatrimonial Democracy After the Euromaidan Revolution"


03 January 2017

What has changed and what has remained the same in Ukrainian politics after the Euromaidan revolution and the collapse of Viktor Yanukovych's regime in February 2014? Although new democratic elites came to power immediately after the Euromaidan, informal institutions continued to dominate the formal ones, and patron-client ties, personal loyalty, and clan "membership" persisted as organizing principles of the system. These patrimonial principles determine the formation of political parties, the majority of appointments to public office, and relations among political players at the national and regional levels. As a result, the political regime that emerged following the Euromaidan may be defined as a neopatrimonial democracy, in which multiple patron-client oligarchic networks compete through formal electoral mechanisms, but the primary focus is still on capturing positions to control sources of rents. Surprisingly, however, Ukraine's patrimonial politics are, in a paradoxical fashion, contributing to the institutionalization of political pluralism and political competition via a series of formal and informal power-sharing arrangements between the major Euromaidan players.

Professor Oleksandr Fisun is the Chair of the Department of Political Science at Kharkiv V. N. Karazin National University in Ukraine. His primary research interests are Ukrainian politics and comparative democratization. He has held visiting fellowships at the Kennan Institute and the National Endowment for Democracy (Washington, DC), the Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Toronto, and the Ellison Center for Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies at the University of Washington. He is the author of Demokratiia, neopatrimonializm i global'nye transformatsii [Democracy, Neopatrimonialism, and Global Transformations] (Kharkiv, 2006), as well as numerous book chapters and articles on regime change, informal politics, and
neopatrimonialism in Ukraine.