Published: Aug 25, 2023

  Denys Yakovlev

  Liliya Yakovleva

  Vitaly Koltsov


The purpose of this article is to define the middle class as the representative of the public interest and the social foundation of democracy in Ukraine. Throughout the history of Ukraine, the middle class has always been oppressed by Russian and Soviet colonialism. The revival of the middle class is slowed down by the fact that the middle class is “hanging” in the gravitational field between the government and the opposition. In Ukraine there are no bourgeois party(s) independent of the oligarchy. One condition must be met for the introduction of political and economic democracy. The middle class should have full parliamentary representation. There are still no parties in the Ukrainian parliament that represent the interests of the middle class. This applies to both the government and the opposition. The middle class actively supported opposition politicians during the revolutionary events of 2004 and 2013-2014. In modern conditions, it is a class of volunteers, activists and volunteers who are defending Ukraine against a large-scale military invasion. A new social contract, aimed at implementing Ukraine's European and Euro-Atlantic integration on the basis of democratic values and institutions, is impossible without the active political participation of the middle class. This is precisely why the middle class needs full parliamentary representation. Methodology. Class analysis was used to examine the position of the middle class in the political space between the government and the opposition. This makes it possible to identify the different worldviews and values of large groups of people who occupy different social positions and whose interests are expressed in politics. In order to determine the need to redistribute public goods in favour of the middle class through parliamentary representation, the authors turn to the theory of economic democracy. The data from empirical sociological research on the high level of consolidation of the Ukrainian middle class during the war and the results of the middle class' choice in the 2014 and 2019 election campaigns are presented. According to the sociological research data, support for democracy is growing in Ukraine, and the middle class is opting for European and Euro-Atlantic integration. Results. According to objective indicators of income, education, employment and consumer behaviour, the middle class consists of residents of large cities who have (or are in the process of obtaining) higher education. Given the differences between the Ukrainian middle class and the middle class in democratic countries in terms of objective income levels, subjective indicators should also be used to determine it. The self-identification of the middle class is determined by the desire for democratic changes, the awareness of the need to overcome corruption, the deconstruction of the oligarchic regime and the introduction of market reforms. The middle class is a social group that is most interested in political and economic competition, because it is the middle class that benefits from democracy and the market economy. The lack of parliamentary representation of a large social group, the middle class, hinders the democratisation of Ukraine. The social weight of the middle class is constantly growing. It is proven that the fragmentary reforms in Ukraine after the events of 2004 and 2013-2014 were carried out by the oligarchic regime under the pressure of the middle class. At the same time, the constitutional reversals regarding the form of government (presidential and parliament-presidential), the changes in the electoral system (from a majority to a mixed system, the passage of the proportional model in the parliamentary elections of 2006 and 2007) can be explained by the manipulations of the oligarchy, which captured the parliament in order to prevent the middle class from coming to power. The factors that prevent the Ukrainian middle class from gaining parliamentary representation are identified: 1) Oligarchy, as a political regime of economic monopolists. The oligarchic forces have not only privatised the branches of the national economy, but have also created effective systems of political control over the parliament and the “oligarch-lumpen alliance”, which influences the political decisions of Ukrainian citizens with the help of the mass media and oligarchic parties (electoral projects); 2) the mediatisation of politics, caused by the monopoly of financial and industrial groups on television channels; 3) the formation of the “party of power” as an “internal” party, which retains its influence through the formation of a majority in the Ukrainian parliament; 4) the social pathologies of post-Soviet society (paternalism, ambivalence of mass consciousness, atomisation of society, conformism, nihilism, deprofessionalisation, deactualisation of universal democratic values, etc.). It was noted that during the war they were partially overcome in the public consciousness; 5) indoctrination in the educational system, which causes problems of manipulative distortion of collective memory, reproduction of “post-Soviet” identity and regimes of truth. Overcoming the mediatisation of politics, populism and indoctrination will contribute to the rationalisation of political interaction and the growth of the influence of the middle class. In the process of rationalisation of political interaction, the main role belongs to the middle class as a class of individuals who have completed secondary or higher education. This enables them to check facts on the basis of media literacy, to distinguish truth from lies, rational argumentation from populism. As part of the modern “new” middle class, public intellectuals are the first to play a role in the rationalisation of politics. Practical implications. The results of the study can be used in the process of further democratisation, European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine, as well as in the development of middle class political parties. They will contribute to increasing the weight of the middle class in politics and to raising the awareness of middle class representatives of the need for parliamentary representation. Overall, the authors hope that all the results of the study will contribute to the overcoming of the oligarchic regime in Ukraine and the establishment of a democratic system of redistribution of public resources. Value/оriginality. This study of the role of the middle class in Ukrainian politics allows for a better understanding of the need for parliamentary representation of the middle class. It also reveals the reasons for the dominance of the oligarchy. The focus is on the devastating consequences of this dominance for the middle class. The need to ensure the parliamentary representation of the middle class in order to overcome the oligarchy and further democratise Ukraine has been identified.

How to Cite

Yakovlev, D., Yakovleva, L., & Koltsov, V. (2023). MIDDLE CLASS IN UKRAINE: GOVERNMENT OR OPPOSITION?. Baltic Journal of Economic Studies, 9(3), 86-95. https://doi.org/10.30525/2256-0742/2023-9-3-86-95
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middle class, power, opposition, government, parliamentary representation, elections, political parties, political democracy, oligarchy


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