The events of the recent days in the Ukrainian Parliament have broken out of their chains and gone on a rampage. The fall of the parliamentary coalition and the statement made by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk regarding his resignation immediately dimmed the disillusion of the Communist party faction, which also evoked a lot of emotional response yesterday. Here emotions went off the scale everywhere: half of Ukraine acted like hysterical drunkards, screaming: “How? How so?! The country is at war! What will we do without the Parliament and the government?” Famous TV host Danylo Yanevskiy even called to gather Maidan and return the Prime Minister with even broader power. Frequently they were the same hysterical people who were earlier worried: “We have to reboot the government! What are the regionals doing in the Parliament? This Rada is failing necessary laws! We immediately need a new Rada!” However after the sudden dissolution of the coalition with the Prime Minister’s demonstrative exit, many really were glad about the possibility of reassembling the Parliament. Without believing in hysteria, let us examine what processes stand behind this whole act. Let’s expand on the topic.
Petro Poroshenko wants to disband the Verkhovna Rada. It is not news: he promised this immediately after hearing that he would win in the first round of the elections. Essentially, this was what Maidan demanded. And the situation demands it. The current Parliament is not only a gathering of thieves, but a gathering of thieves who have deeply discredited themselves. They voted for the dictator laws on January 16th in violation of all the rules, they legitimatized the affairs of Yanukovych’s family which the country will spend a long time recovering from, they are a live, multifaceted impersonation of the political rudeness against which the Ukrainians stood on Maidan. What is worse, this Parliament is sabotaging important bills. The President on his part cannot rely on this Parliament, where the number of those loyal to him is very small, and they are more likely to be hired people than his own. The people need a new Rada, and the President needs an obedient one.
How is it possible to disband the Parliament if you are the President of Ukraine and the third biggest faction in it is loyal to him? It is difficult to do so with the parliamentary-presidential 2004 Constitution, but situationally it is possibly. For this, it is essential that the parliamentary coalition fall apart. For some faction to leave it and for it to constitute less than 226 members (half of the Parliament plus a control seat). If within a month a new coalition is not assemble, the President will get a right to disband the Rada and appoint new elections.
This is what was done. With the arbitrarily Poroshenko-loyal UDAR faction’s withdrawal from the coalition, which was soon followed by “Svoboda,” the coalition ceased to exist: only the “Batkivshchina” faction was left. It is unreal to assemble a new coalition: they will have to united with the Party of Regions, and from the point of view of the “Batkivshchina” electorate, such an alliance can only be seen as unacceptable. Consequentially, on August 26th Petro Poroshenko, having concluded the lack of a coalition, will be able to appoint early parliamentary elections, and hold them on October 26th.
It seems everyone is happy: this was what the people and the President wanted. But the Prime Minister rebelled.
Arseniy Yatseniuk declared a revealing speech, a beautiful one, but he made an abstract attack on the people that stand in the way of necessary reforms. And he stated: as the coalition that appointed the Prime Minister fell apart, the Prime Minister has to resign as well. And he is leaving. Political responsibility lies on those who were left. So on the President and those who essentially destroyed the coalition.
The speech was imposing – everyone immediately noted that Yatseniuk grew a lot as a public speaker (half a year ago it was difficult to watch him on Maidan without tears and calming drafts). However he is slightly insincere.
Yatseniuk’s main problem is not in the fall of the integral union of party project. Despite the popular opinion, the Ukrainian legislation simply lacks a norm which would oblige the government to dissolve in light of the death of the parliamentary coalition that created it. It exists in many parliamentary republics, but not in Ukraine, neither in the Constitution nor in the Cabinet of Ministers Law. So here Yatseniuk simply found a good excuse to walk away and save face. HIs main problem and the main excuse to walk the Parliament with something heavy in his hands is the way the Parliament failed several government initiatives on the same day. The most important one was the sequester of the budget and the sale of 49% of the Ukrainian gas transportation system to European investors (combining the simultaneous receipt of necessary cash with a bomb to the “South Stream”).
The government needs these bills like air. The country, to be frank, too. I have mentioned the gas transportation system before, and the reexamination of the budget and the following initiatives presume:
- the abolition of tax subsidies for a big number of big businesses. In simple terms, a blow to the wallets of very many oligarchs. Which offends the parliament that consists of oligarchical quotas;
- a big cutback on social expenditures. Right before the parliamentary elections. The parliamentary majority refuses to be held responsible for understandable reasons.
The problem is that if all of this is not done now, then the budget of the country will simply have no money in the midst of war. For everything: the war, heating, salaries for budget workers. The Vladimir Putin’s dream will come true, which the analysts have been talking about since springtime: social rebellions threatening to depose the current government of Ukraine. If not Ukraine itself, from the inside, too – taking into account the current situation.
These are not the first initiatives of the government that have been sabotaged by the Parliament both on the level of voting, and the committee level. According to stubborn rumors, Arseniy Yatseniuk’s first resignation statement has been lying in speaker Olexanr Turchynov’s safe box for a month now.
Having handed in his resignation, the Prime Minister constructed a crossroads: either you support my bills or the entire responsibility of what will happen next is on you. In the public sphere his resignation looked wonderful: he is proud, offended, and he is for the people.
In the non-public sphere he was regarded with more skepticism. Because, first, they knew that the fall of the coalition is an excuse but not the reason. Second, they knew that it took more to leave the government that enter it, and the resignation of the Prime Minister still has to be affirmed by the Parliament. And it may fail this government initiative, by the way. Third, they did not appreciate the move of Yatseniuk’s “cheerleading group” in the shape of the Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov, who immediately stated that the post of acting Prime Minister was given to Vice Prime Minister Vladimir Groysman. Maybe not: Yatseniuk is still working. Fourth, even if Yatseniuk resigns and flees, his Cabinet of Ministers will carry out its own obligations up until the new parliamentary coalition appoints a new one. So at least until November.
Essentially, Yatseniuk’s resignation is a trade ultimatum. And, judging from the reaction of both UDAR representatives and President Petro Poroshenko, they might be angry at him, but they are ready for dialogue. It is in everyone’s common interests to end the conflict, save the country and avoid social rebellion. It is an issue of balance of interests as to who of the oligarchs will have to share more, how the social tension will be taken down and how they will deal with the Parliament.
This way, we may possibly expect the return of the aforementioned bills to the agenda. Just like parliamentary reelections this fall.
Another thins is that, taking into account the powers presented in the political specter, as well as their ratings, we cannot expect to be fully rid of Ukrainian parliamentary ills (amateurism, oligarchical quotas, populism). But this is a different story.
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina