Given that the reforms had stymied and that the new political elite was swept from power in elections in 2019 (first for president, then for parliament), can one even say there was a revolution in Ukraine? Wynnyckyj himself admits that by 2018, the values central to the Maidan Revolution had not yet received institutional expression (p.322). This suggests that a key tenet of Arendt’s definition of a revolution has failed to materialise. As Wynnyckyj quotes from Arendt, “[O]nly where change occurs in the sense of a new beginning, where violence is used to constitute an altogether different form of government, to bring about the formation of a new body politic, where the liberation from oppression aims at least at the constitution of freedom can we speak of revolution” (p. 18). While Wynnnyckyj claims that “a new body politic” emerged out of Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity (p. 18), it is not clear that this new body politic embraced most of, let alone all, of the people of Ukraine.
While Wynnyckyj views the Maidan Revolution as the “birth of the nation” (243), it seems as if what he is describing is the birth of a specific community – the Kyiv Maidan – and its positioning of itself as spokespersons for that nation. Here, he suggests that symbols from such right-wing nationalist movements as the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and its leader, Stepan Bandera, and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) have received new meaning. Still, outside the community of Maidan believers, it is not clear that those new symbols have brought Ukrainians together and bridged regional divisions.
Since this book’s publication, Ukraine’s post-Maidan government and parliament lost to political novices promising an end to the war in the Donbas and more effective reforms. In April 2019, Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian and television producer with no political experience, won the final round of presidential elections with 73% of the vote. In July 2019, Zelensky’s political party, Servant of the People, just formed in time for early parliamentary elections, won an outright majority, a total of 254 of 450 seats.
Both elections were unprecedented in independent Ukraine’s history, where presidents won bare majorities, and where political parties in parliaments always had to form coalition governments. While it is still not clear what changes these political forces will bring to Ukraine, the Maidan Revolution has ended, and a new era has begun.Print