Oleksandr Fisun

Professor Oleksandr Fisun is the Chair of the Department of Political Science at the V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University in Ukraine (B.A. with Highest Honors in Political Economy, 1987; C.Sc. in Philosophical Sciences, 1990, Dc.Sc. in Political Science, 2009).

His primary research interests are comparative politics and democratic theory. He has held visiting fellowships at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy (Washington DC), the Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Toronto, the Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies at the University of Washington (Seattle), Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta (Edmonton), and Aleksanteri Institute at the University of Helsinki (Finland). He has published Demokratiia, neopatrimonializm i global'nye transformatsii [Democracy, Neopatrimonialism, and Global Transformations] (Kharkiv, 2006), as well as numerous book chapters and articles on comparative democratization, neopatrimonialism, regime change in post-Soviet Eurasia, and Ukrainian politics.

Oleksandr Fisun is a member of PONARS Eurasia (New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia) network based in the George Washington University, Washington DC.

Areas of expertise: Democratization, Informal Politics, Hybrid Regimes, Neopatrimonialism, Ukraine.

Research project: How Ukraine is Ruled: Informal Politics and Neopatrimonial Democracy after the Euromaidan Revolution

What has changed and remained the same in the Ukrainian politics after the 2014 Euromaidan revolution? Although immediately after the Euromaidan new democratic elites coming to power, informal institutions continue to dominate the formal ones, and the patron-client ties, personal loyalty, and clan “membership” persist as organizing principles of the system. These patrimonial principles determine the formation of political parties, the majority of appointments to public office, and the structuring of relations among political players at the national and regional level. As a result, the political regime that emerged following the Euromaidan is a “neopatrimonial” democracy, in which multiple patron-client oligarchic networks compete through formal electoral mechanisms, but their primary goals still focus on capturing positions to control sources of rents.

Professor Fisun intends to explore the decisive role of informal politics and shadow patron-client networks in Ukraine that remain an under-researched topic for a long time and investigate how Ukraine’s neopatrimonial democracy, patronage, and informal power-sharing arrangements are paradoxically contributing to the institutionalization of political pluralism and political competition. It may help shed light on the future of Ukraine’s political trajectory in domestic, regional and global perspective.

Dates of stay: 01 October 2019 - 31 July 2020