Friday, 28 February 2014

'Popular' uprisings are not necessarily popular

We should not make the mistake of assuming that 'popular' uprisings are popular. Or at least we shouldn't assume they represent the overwhelming interests of all the population.

It is instinctive for us to align ourselves with 'velvet' type revolutions - the toppling of oppressive regimes through the shear determination and will of the people expressed through civil disobedience. But the situation in Egypt and now as it develops in Ukraine should tell us that not all outcomes are good. A power vacuum has to be filled and it is often followed by an equally abhorrent regime with equal determination to have its will obeyed.

We now watch the situation as it develops in Ukraine with growing concern. The 2012 election was marred, and with a key opposition leader in prison it was rightly condemned by international observers. But the deposed president was not without popular support. There is a growing unease that Ukraine may split. Prevention of this will require political compromise.  Russia may move to 'protect' the Russian speaking population.

A symbol of this uprising in Western media has been the toppling of statues of Lenin. We should recall that Lenin came to power through a 'popular' uprising. But what is significant in Ukraine is that there isn't a coherent opposition leader around whom the people can rally.

We have learned that all is often not as it seems with 'velvet' revolutions. The 'orange' revolution in Ukraine soon turned sour with political corruption. Most of us have little idea of those who 'lead' the opposition in Ukraine. I doubt we will see a more robust democracy as a result of the events as they have unfolded.

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