How Many Politicians Does It Take to Destroy a Country? A few thoughts on the untimely crash of Ukraine’s Parliament

A House Divided

A House Divided

Some have referred to Ukraine’s newest President, Petro Poroshenko as a man without a party because ever since his elevation to the position of President of the embattled Ukraine at the end of May; his own political party, the Solidarity Party, has not been represented in the Parliament. If it is difficult for any country’s leader to get legislation passed through a democratic process in which his own party is less represented to some degree, imagine being the president of a country and there is not one single representative in the entire parliament who sides with you! Poroshenko has had to rely on a shaky coalition of pro-Western politicians to prosecute the war.

Lincoln 1858

Lincoln 1858

In 1858, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Presidency, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech that has been given the name, ‘The Nation Divided’ speech in which Lincoln quotes the Bible; Mark 3:25, in which Jesus admonishes the Jewish leaders, “…and if a house against itself be divided, that house cannot be made to stand.” (Young’s Literal Translation) Lincoln went on to say that he did not believe that this government could not any longer endure going on half free and half slave.

When the framers of the U.S. Constitution went about finding the right examples for a model of government, they opted for a republic, that being democratically elected representatives making the laws for the people. They decided on a two house system, an upper and a lower. The upper being the Senate with a set number of two senators from every state. To balance out the legislature based on population, the lower house, the House of Representatives was decided by a formula to determine representation by population.

The United States of America has a population in 2012 of 313.9 million citizens. (Sources include: United States Census Bureau, World Bank) Although there are six (plus an others category) of listed political parties; in the current Congress only three parties are represented and they are the Republican, Democratic and Independent parties. Of the Independent there are only 2 in the Senate and they have come alongside the Democrats to make a majority. In the House of Representatives only the Democratic and Republican parties are represented. (Wikipedia)
For a country as complex as the United States with a citizenry of 313.9 million and an estimated 37.5 million additional non-citizens living legally in the U.S. (2006 figure by migrant information.org) and another 11.7 million illegal immigrants. (Pew Research Center)
For a country as complex as the United States with a citizenry of 313.9 million and an estimated 37.5 million additional non-citizens living legally in the U.S. (2006 figure by migrant information.org) and another 11.7 million illegal immigrants. (Pew Research Center)
To complete this short history, geography, political and mathematics review, keep the figures simple that for a country of roughly 360 million people the federal law making branch of the government consists of 541 law makers. One hundred are Senators, four hundred and thirty-five are voting members of the House of Representatives and six are non-voting representatives include the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico and five delegates, District of Columbia, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the North Mariana Islands. (ballotpedia.org)
That brings the ratio of citizens to lawmakers to about 673,000 to 1.
Many Americans declare that Congress is broken, it never gets anything done correctly and so on, yet laws do get passed, a great many of them actually and an extremely large amount of business is handled. Also, very cleanly (relatively) and without violence (usually) at regular intervals every so many years, there is a peaceful introduction of those who the voters believe will do the job better than the last set. Then the process continues without skipping a beat.
America’s house may have a great many differences of opinion but we are not divided.
That brings up now the condition of Ukraine, the focus of this short essay. Once again Ukraine is politically in shambles. The country which follows (more or less) the president in Kiev is doing battle with a foreign invader, Russia – one of the most powerful countries in the world. Battling Russian separatists that are armed and aided by Vladimir Putin’s regime in Moscow, the battles go on. Now, in the midst of this crisis, the ruling coalition that is supporting the president is non-functioning and to be dissolved which could lead to early elections and now basically nothing will get done in a bureaucracy that wasn’t succeeding in doing much to begin with. Here is where the numbers and the mathematics become important.

Remember that America has 535 Congressmen (male and female) for 360 million citizens, a ratio of 673,000 to 1 and are divided basically into two parties. Ukraine, on the other hand, has 450 Parliamentarians for a country of 45.6 million citizens. Their ratio is approximately 101,000 to 1 (citizens to representatives).
Those 450 Parliamentarians are divided into 10 political parties
For a country whose population is 1/8 the size of the United States in population which would equate to roughly the populations of California and New Jersey together versus the entire US population, it has about the same number of law makers. However, instead of being more efficient and more personal because of the smaller person to legislature ratio, it is in complete disrepair because ten different political parties are all vying for power! And, the president of the country is trying to wage a war against a life-blood neighbor who is the second most powerful nation in the world, who controls Ukraine’s natural gas flow and must do so with not one single member of his own party in the Parliament. A nation divided against itself, will not stand.

Ukraine Political Parties

Ukraine Political Parties

In conclusion, to answer the question posed in the title of this essay: “How many politicians does it take to destroy a country?” The answer is, one – if the people let him get away with it.

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