Shifting fortunes: anti-establishment reform parties, the catch-all strategy and the territorial cleavage in Ukraine
This project is intended to examine the how can the impact of an electoral cleavage can be reduced in the absence of changes in its socio-structural element as well as in other factors related to electoral competition using the example of the parliamentary elections in Ukraine. The thesis aims to examine the relationship between the use of a catch-all electoral strategy by anti-establishment reform parties and the importance of territorial cleavage in Ukraine during the parliamentary elections in Ukraine in 2014 and 2019. The most influential parties and presidential candidates heavily relied on the territorial cleavage, which led to the fact that no party or presidential candidate could win the elections in all the regions of Ukraine between 1991 and 2014. In 2019, Servant of People party managed to win the elections in almost the whole country despite opposite orientations of inhabitants of different regions regarding cleavage-related issues. At the same time, in 2014, when the cleavage itself profoundly transformed due to the fact of Russian military aggression, no party could win the elections countrywide which suggests that the explanatory variable is the change of electoral strategy. It is an MSSD comparative study between the parliamentary elections in 2014 and 2019, in which the following factors are held constant: the territory controlled by Ukraine, social conditions for the cleavage, electoral system, temporal distance between the parliamentary and presidential elections, level of distrust to political parties. To test the hypothesis, content analysis of party manifestos and TV ads of parties that got into parliament of Ukraine in 2014 and 2019 was carried out. The results only partly support the hypothesis proposed since only one out of three AERPs managed to win the elections by using the catch-all strategy. The study also reveals the importance of the participation in the presidential elections preceding the parliamentary one and the evenness of political resources between different regions of Ukraine to win the elections for AERPs. According to the expectations, mainstream parties using a catch-all strategy did not manage to win the elections.