Can civil society can be a source of democratic renewal?


The hope that civil society can be a source of renewal for Ukraine’s politics makes this election cycle different, says analyst Kateryna Pishchikova. It signals that civil society as a whole, notwithstanding its diversity, has become a much more political actor and a source of competing claims to legitimacy and authority, she contends:

This has implications for both how the election will be held and its aftermath. The great professionalism of election monitoring groups and the outspokenness of civic activists in the public sphere raise the costs of open election-rigging and other violations before, during, and after the election. Should the presidential election conclude peacefully, everyone’s eyes will be set on the parliamentary election in October. New political forces stand a good chance of channeling their energy into party politics and bringing a much-needed renewal to Ukraine’s politics.

2018 was another year of immense contestation for fundamental rights, notes the 2019 State Of Civil Society Report from Civicus. The report identifies key trends that impacted civil society in 2018 and are continuing in 2019, including:

  • A sustained assault on humanitarian response
  • Attacks on the civic space of excluded groups
  • Right-wing populism and the need for a new narrative
  • Powerful protests on everyday issues
  • Failing economics and the need for economic democracy
  • Weakening multilateralism: the international system under pressure
  • Flawed and fake elections
  • The growing power of anti-rights groups
  • Agency and action: civil society successes in 2018


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