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News Analysis: How 2019 elections may shape Ukraine's future policy
Last Updated: 2018-12-15 16:32 | Xinhua
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The year of 2019 would be a decisive year for Ukraine as the country will elect a new president and a new parliament.

The two elections, slated to be held on March 31, 2019, and Oct. 27, 2019, respectively, will determine the country's domestic and foreign policy for the next five years.

Although more than ten hopefuls have already announced their intentions to run for the presidency, most analysts consider incumbent President Petro Poroshenko and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko as two obvious front-runners.

The potential results of the parliamentary race are less predictable. It is unclear how many political parties will participate in the elections and which party will pass the threshold to enter the parliament.

However, signs indicate that all current parliamentary forces and several newcomers, including liberal democratic opposition, populist parties and nationalist movements, will try to get seats in the new parliament.

No matter who wins the presidential and parliamentary races, they would have to solve three dominating issues -- the socio-economic problems, corruption and the conflict in Donbas.

While there is no doubt that the next authorities will continue the reforms which are proved to be effective to further boost economic growth and root out corruption, resolving the Donbass issue is a much more complicated task.

Most likely, Ukraine will push forward political and diplomatic efforts aimed at settling the conflict, but the instruments to achieve peace will differ depending on which of the candidates wins.

Taking into account the public statements of the presidential hopefuls, it can be assumed that those instruments may include establishing a new format of international talks on the Donbas crisis, giving more administrative and financial powers to the region and deploying an international peacekeeping mission in the conflict zone.

Anyway, the return of the region to Kiev's sovereignty will be neither quick nor easy, experts say.

Ukraine's future foreign policy is unlikely to change much after the elections despite the presence of many opposition candidates in the race.

The partnership with the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which was defined as the country's top foreign policy priority in 2014, will apparently continue due to a relatively strong support for it among citizens.

In November, the Ukrainian parliament passed a bill in the first reading on including Ukraine's intention to join both organizations in the country's Constitution.

If the bill is adopted in the final reading, it would mean that Ukraine officially gives constitutional affirmation to its Euro-Atlantic course.

"Most likely, this course will be preserved after the elections as most Ukrainians are loyal to the European and Atlantic integration. If a pro-Russian candidate wins he would have to face a rigid opposition," Grygoriy Lugovsky, a Ukrainian historian and independent political expert, told Xinhua.

However, Ukraine's continued course towards the West does not mean that the country will abandon its pragmatic cooperation with other countries after the elections.

After all, each of the candidates is well aware that a stable growth of Ukraine's export-oriented economy could be achieved only by developing a mutually beneficial partnership with different countries.

According to Ukrainian experts, cooperation with China, Ukraine's second-largest trading partner in the world, will flourish regardless of the results of the elections.

"There is a high interest in Ukraine to promote cooperation with China ... China may become one of the main economic and geopolitical priorities of Ukraine for the next decade," Liliya Brudnytska, an analyst at the political studies center Vybir, told Xinhua.

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News Analysis: How 2019 elections may shape Ukraine's future policy
Source:Xinhua | 2018-12-15 16:32
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