Yes, there’s yet another new party on Ukraine’s political scene – Azov’s new National Corps Party.
Friday they held their founding congress where, among other things, they agreed on policies to expand presidential powers, sever ties with Russia, expand the right to bear arms and “[restore] the death penalty…for treason and the embezzlement of government funds by officials in excessive amounts” (uhh wut), capping off the day with a torchlit march through central Kyiv.
If they’re really, properly serious about becoming an electoral force (which is doubtful when their new leader says things like “[there] are several ways of coming to power, but we are trying something through elections, but we have all sorts of possibilities”[my emphasis]), they’re stepping into a crowded and not-particularly-profitable far-right marketplace.
Just look at recent KIIS poll numbers for the far-right/nationalist parties, below, shaded in boring grey (and that, as I’ve noted before, are far below those for other European far-right parties).
It’s the same story across all the polls over the last year – there’s “an already fragmented radical electorate,” and one that, even hypothetically (i.e., impossibly) combined, can barely toe past Ukraine’s 5 percent electoral threshold. And now this National Corps wants to squeeze itself in? Bonne chance, gentlemen. They might be able to fare better than some of their comrades in the short term – I predict they’ll poll reasonably well in the first few polls they show up in – but I imagine they’ll find their <5% ceiling in due course.
Yes, I’m far from Kyiv right now and have more familiarity with a bunch of numbers than anyone on the ground there more up to speed with the ins and outs of Ukraine’s factionalist far-right. Still, I don’t think this has much to do with proper, democratic party politics. To me this move seems to be about little more than trying to lend a veneer of legitimacy to a very small minority of football hooligans and hardcore hangers-on — a minority who remind me more and more of a gaggle of wannabe Montagnards than a genuine political party.