A Test for Democracy
Everyday Ukraine serves as a testament to the power of human will. The Ukrainian people continue to meet their Russian aggressors in the battlefield. Lately a lot of the focus for those who follow the conflict closely is on the advances of Russian forces. But the Russian advance is slow. It is likely the war will last a long time with setbacks and advances on both sides. During this time Ukrainian democracy will undergo a difficult test. While the war tests the bravery of its soldiers, the war’s consequences will test their politicians and citizens. Its aftermath raises many difficult challenges for its democracy to overcome.
The most immediate challenge involves the displacement of millions of people from occupied areas. About 5 million Ukrainian refugees have fled to the European Union. Others are internally displaced. Some have fled to neighboring countries outside the EU like Moldova or Georgia. Still others have even gone to Russia. The resettlement of so many people will make the reconstruction of society difficult to manage. Moreover, it raises difficult questions for democracy. Where will these people vote? Will some refugees lose their say in the future of their country? How will local communities evolve as displaced people establish more permanent roots?
Perhaps even more daunting is the cost of reconstruction. Some estimate the cost to rebuild at $750 billion already. While the West will likely provide some resources toward reconstruction, it will require an herculean effort. Moreover, it will necessitate many difficult decisions along the way. Choices will determine where reconstruction begins and the proper allocation to different parts of the country. Some decisions will lay outside the political sphere as multinational corporations make investments. But politics always plays an important role. Ultimately, it will become yet another test for democracy in Ukraine.