President Zelensky of Ukraine has cancelled both parliamentary and presidential elections that were due to take place next spring in a move that has shocked and angered both Ukrainians and western donors alike.
The cancellation of the elections technically follows on from the announcement of martial law, which was declared following the 2022 invasion of Russia, but it had widely been hoped and expected that elections would still take place none the less.
Zelensky Cancels Elections in game changing move
Why have elections been cancelled?
According to a statement from the president it was to keep the country “united” with him adding “We must decide that now is the time of defence, the time of battle, on which the fate of the state and people depends. I believe now is not the time for elections”.
Yet despite the rhetoric many both within and outside of the country remain skeptical, with Zelensky previously having stated that he would only hold elections if NATO stumped up $5 billion, send election observes to the front line, as well as legislative changes.
Or as many have opined he has simply set the bar as high as possible, so that were he to cancel elections, as he has now then it could be blamed on America.
What has been the western reaction?
While many in the European Union have remained silent over the affair, the same cannot be said for the United States where many high level politicians, such as US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, have insisted that vote must take place in order for aid to continue.
Yet the remarks of Graham pale into insignificance when compared to those of others such as Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who much like us has openly called Ukraine a dictatorship.
Ramaswamy, who has quickly won support from Republicans for his anti-military-industrial-complex stance also drew plaudits for not only bringing up the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, but also pointing out the hypocrisy of which wars the United States decides to fund and fight.
Could elections be held in Ukraine?
The quite simple answer is that yes they could, with the situation quite ironically not being all that different to when Zelensky was elected in 2019. At this time, Crimea, Luhansk and Donetsk were not under the control of Ukraine.
As things currently stand the war has largely turned into a stalemate, with the situation in the main hubs of Kiev and Lviv have returned to such a normality that both have bustling nightlife.
Quite simply the elections are being cancelled, because under martial law they can be, with Zelensky retorting after being told that the US held elections during time of war that it was “against the law in Ukraine”.
A law that him and his rubber stamp parliament could easily change if they wanted to, but alas they do not want to.
Why does Zelensky want to cancel the elections?
While there are some layers as to why Zelensky wants to cancel elections, the main and most obvious is that he fears he would lose them. Despite western propaganda to the contrary many in the Ukraine want to see an end to the conflict through negotiation, rather than embark on a bitter fight to the death with an adversary that they know they cannot beat.
As one Kyiv resident put it to me “The longer we wait to negotiate the more land we lose. I hate Russia for what they did, but I hate Zelensky more. This is a war we cannot win”.
And this is where another aspect comes in, with western support starting to lag, a candidate that stood on a peace platform, as Zelensky did in 2019 would stand a great chance of winning. This is an outcome the delusional president will never be able to accept.