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Location & Connections

 

Visiting Fellows 2016-2017

Oleksandr Fisun, V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Ukraine
“Ukraine’s Neopatrimonial Democracy after the Euromaidan Revolution”
(mid-April - mid-June 2017)


Biography
Oleksandr Fisun is Professor of Political Science and Department Head at the V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University in Ukraine. His primary research interests are comparative politics and democratic theory. He has held visiting fellowships at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute (Washington DC), 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 (Seattle). He has published Democracy, Neopatrimonialism, and Global Transformations (Kharkiv, 2006), as well as numerous book chapters and articles on comparative democratization, neopatrimonialism, regime change in post-Soviet Eurasia, and Ukrainian politics. Areas of expertise: Democratization, Informal Politics, Hybrid Regimes, Ukraine.

Short description of ongoing research
The research project, which I will carry out at the Aleksanteri Institute, forms a part of a wider book-length manuscript on the post-Soviet neopatrimonial regimes and analyzes the specific case of Ukraine’s political development after the Euromaidan Revolution of 2014. My initial findings on Ukraine politics before and after the Euromaidan have already been published in a series of policy memos for PONARS Eurasia network and the current project investigates Ukraine’s post-Euromaidan regime of “neopatrimonial” democracy further in more systematic and comprehensive way.
The project is devoted to the analysis of the Ukrainian political system after the Euromaidan revolution and the breakdown of Viktor Yanukovych’s super-presidential regime in February 2014. I intend to explore the key party system and constitutional change, the reconfiguration of patron-client networks around the new formal (president, premier) and informal (oligarchs/regional barons/warlords) centers of power, intensification of party competition with particular attention to the fraction contention within the ruling elite.
Although immediately after the Euromaidan new democratic elites came to power, informal institutions continue to dominate the formal ones, and the patron-client ties, personal loyalty, and clan “membership” still persist as organizing principles of the system. These patrimonial principles determine the formation of political parties, the majority of appointments to public office, and the structuring of relations among political players at the national and regional level. 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 their primary goals still focus on capturing positions to control sources of rents. Paradoxically, however, this new neopatrimonial democracy has fostered the creation of formal and informal obstacles to the development of a super-presidential regime and transition to personal rule (mainly through the divided premier-presidential system and the continued role of patronage networks).
During the fellowship at the Aleksanteri Institute, I expect to complete a part of my book devoted to neopatrimonial democracy in Ukraine after the Euromaidan and prepare a series of policy papers and op-eds on Ukrainian politics for a wider audience.

Email: fisun[AT]ukr.net
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Vladimir Gel’man, Mark Teramae