Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

Resilience and Cohesion in the Zelensky Team

Fri31  Mar02:30pm(15 mins)
Bute Hall


Geir Flikke1
1 University of Oslo, Norway


Ukraine’s political system is dubbed to be a pluralist by default system, where no single faction of the elite can attain sufficient organizational power to avoid defections or fence out competitors to power. While such systems are not dysfunctional, they display patterns of sharp and turbulent political competition that seem disorderly. A major assumption of this model is that the Ukrainian polity is based on a divided national identity. While this is less the case, and while Zelensky has declared national unification to be a major goal, patterns of conflict persisted in 2019–2021. The use of social media campaigning circumvented constraints imposed by media pluralism and rivalling presidential candidates in the 2019 campaign, and it has proven effective in pressing for reforms. But in 2021, defections and splits within the team were more visible. This article suggests that the coalition was facing fundamental challenges before the 2022 invasion, and that the Ukrainian political system replicated many of the characteristics of a pluralist by default system. 


Keywords: pluralism by default, Zelensky, mediatization, political competition