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Role of Political Parties in the Euromaidan Protests of 2013-2014

Julian G. Waller, Ph.D Candidate at the Department of Political Science at the George Washington University and ICSID Visiting Researcher, presented his research on "Popular Perceptions and the De Facto Role of Political Parties in the Euromaidan Protests of 2013-2014" at another meeting of the regular ICSID-CSDSI Seminar on June 6, 2017. The event was held jointly with the HSE seminar on political economy.

Abstract: Opposition political parties are often understood to be critical actors in supporting anti-regime protest in authoritarian and hybrid regimes. Yet popular accounts and newer, descriptive scholarly treatments of recent successful anti-regime protests tend to dismiss the role of opposition political parties in favor of grassroots mobilization by students, non-partisan activists, and everyday citizens. This paper engages this assumption in two ways: by looking at both popular perceptions of party activity and by tracing accounts of actual activity from party actors and their interlocutors. Firstly, using survey evidence from a representative sample of the Ukrainian population following the Euromaidan protests of 2013-2014 and the subsequent regime overthrow, this paper shows that certain demographic characteristics and political beliefs are associated with people believing opposition political parties played a larger or smaller role in the protests in general, as well as identifying variation in perceptions of party activities in regards to specific opposition parties. It suggests that regional differences, views on economic oligarchs and NGOs, prior voting for the former ruling party, and linguistic attributes all were important in framing popular perceptions of party role, and that these views were not uniformly distributed across opposition parties. Secondly, the paper develops a process-tracing account of the protest event, using qualitative evidence to provide a counterpoint to narratives preferencing total grassroots mobilization in favor of a more nuanced depiction.