Timoshenko, First Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Alexander Turchinov, parliament deputy Nikolai Tomenko, Joseph Vinsky who has swapped from the Socialist Party faction, former finance minister Viktor Pinzenyk and former army commander Nikolai Petruk are amongst the top ten candidates of the bloc.
Timoshenko said she would not agree to forming a coalition with the Party of Regions even if the premiership is at stake.
in order to show people the differences between the populist activity of the two previous governments and the effective work of the present government led by Viktor Yanukovich.
Yanukovich will lead the list of candidates from the Party of Regions. The â€œfiveâ€ also includes chairwoman of the Party of Regions faction Raisa Bogatyreva, peopleâ€™s deputy Taras Chornovil, Justice Deputy Minister Inna Bogoslovskaya and Emergencies Minister Nestor Shofrich. [I am not sure what the reference to "the five" is. Maybe the (closed-list) ballot shows only the top 5 candidates out of the (up to) 450?--MSS]
not a political force of ‘separate leaders’, but is the ‘party of a team’. He also assured that the Bloc has no enemies among other political forces, but its opponent is the Party of Regions and ‘its satellites, which profess the colonial policy and colonial perspectives for Ukraine’.
Lutsenko reminded, that the power creating mechanism is clearly set out in the agreement between the Our Ukraine and the BYUT . â€œThe political force, which will receive the majority of votes on election, will delegate its candidate to the Prime Minister post, other posts will be distributed in equal proportionsâ€, he noted.
I would imagine that what Lutsenko is referring to is an agreement that BYUT and Our Ukraine will form a government together if the electoral outcome gives them a majority of seats, and that the ranking of the two parties’ votes will determine which one heads the cabinet.
The previous entry in the “Ukraine” block has some notes about the lists submitted for the previously planned, then postponed, election this past May, and compares to the 2006 election. (Entries on the 2006 election will be farther down the page, or on a previous page, if you click “Ukraine” at the top of this one.)
Replanting of an earlier entry, extended due to new developments
According to the Central Election Commission, just five lists submitted complete packages necessary to run lists in the upcoming early legislative elections (set tentatively now for 24 June30 September):
All Ukrainian Party of Peopleâ€™s Confidence,
Peopleâ€™s Movement of Ukraine (Rukh)
â€œGreen Ecologists â€“ Rayduha /Rainbow/â€ electoral bloc of political parties,
Our Ukraine Peopleâ€™s Union (NSNU) political party, and
â€œYulia Tymoshenko Blocâ€ electoral bloc of political parties.
Five lists would be a massive drop-off from the March, 2006, elections. In that election, there were 45 different lists and more than one fifth of votes cast went to lists that failed to clear the 3% threshold in Ukraine’s single national district election. In that election, only five lists cleared the threshold, including two (Socialists and Communists) that have not registered their own lists this time. (The Socialist leader, Oleksander Moroz, is a significant power-broker and speaker of the parliament, who surprisingly threw his support behind Victor Yanukovych for the premiership, so I would guess he is running on Yanukovych’s list this time.)
A smaller number of entrants in 2007–were it to hold (see discussion below)–could have an impact on the balance of forces in the new parliament, although I am not sure in which direction. My hunch is in favor of Yushchenko or Tymoshenko more than in favor of prime minister Victor Yanukovych. (Note: “hunch” not “prediction.”)
Meanwhile, the Yushchenko-Yanukovych seriously escalated at week’s end, with the president issuing a decree to assume control of the interior security forces from the cabinet. The prime minister vowed to defy the order, which was a response to the Interior Minister’s use of the troops to try to prevent another presidential decree–this one dismissing the state prosecutor–from taking effect.
With today’s (27 May) agreement on an election date, the crisis appears to be over–at least for now. Things got very tense:
The president summoned thousands of troops to Ukraine’s capital Saturday, but forces loyal to the nation’s prime minister stopped them outside Kiev.
Yushchenko wanted the elections earlier than Yanukovych did, so we could conclude that Yanukovych won this latest showdown.
The Guardian story, just quoted, continues to miss the point about the general continuity of the trend away from the Yanukovych bloc in Ukrainian politics–a point I have emphasized many times. The story, referring to the March, 2006, parliamentary elections that followed by just over a year the election of Yushchenko amidst the Orange Revolution, states:
Yanukovych staged a remarkable political comeback. In last year’s parliamentary elections, his party won the largest share of seats, apparently benefiting from wide voter dissatisfaction with the country’s stalled reforms and internecine political sparring.
Of course, there was no such benefit; in fact, Yanukovych suffered quite an electoral defeat in March, 2006, as even a rather casual look at the results of recent elections will show. In the runoff re-vote in 2005, Yanukovych won 45.9% of the national vote. He had won 41.4% in the first round, a figure that was almost certainly inflated by fraud. In March, 2006, his party won 32.1%. Some benefit from “voter dissatisfaction”! Some comeback!
Yanukovych’s actual comeback–that is, his being named prime minister last August after the Yuschchenko-Tymoshenko-Moroz coalition broke up–is entirely attributable to failures of coordination among the Orange parties. And whether they can coordinate during and after the upcoming election campaign will determine their ability to reinstate their coalition. It remains unlikely there will be much vote swing between the camps represented by the president and premier.
A key indicator of the extent of coordination will come soon. With the election being delayed, the list registration process may be reopened (and so may talks on changing the election rules themselves, as alluded to above). If the process is re-opened, will more lists enter? And if so, will the entry of new lists further divide the Orange bloc? Stay tuned.
This comes as a surprise (to me): Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych have reached agreement Friday on holding early parliamentary elections. I thought Yanukovych had quite a solid constitutional argument against the president’s decree dissolving parliament. On the other hand, I don’t see how the Orange forces backing Yushchenko can expect a better result under new elections, so maybe Yanukovych is simply confident that he will get a fresh mandate, while defusing the tension in the streets and markets. The date is still to be agreed, although in Yushchenko’s amended decree, it is currently planned for 24 June.
The Guardian story notes, albeit in passing, that while awaiting a ruling on his decree by the constitutional court, Yushchenko fired two of the court’s judges. Where exactly he might find the authority to do that is not clear to me. Ukraine continues to experience a deep institutional crisis. Can early elections resolve it?
Inevitably, the crisis over President Yushchenko’s decree dissolving parliament is generating political conflict at the regional level. Itar-Tass reports:
The Odessa Regional Council, the first in Ukraine since the beginning of the political crisis, will discuss at its next meeting a vote of no confidence to Governor Ivan Plachkov, who started in the Odessa Region preparations for new parliamentary elections.
All of the oblast governors signed a statement supporting the President’s decree–not surprisingly, as under Ukraine’s centralized political structure, the governors are appointed by the President.* The councils, on the other hand, are elected. Odessa is among the regions where Prime Minister Yanukovych has his base, having won almost two thirds of the vote there in the final round of the election in which Yushchekno was elected president.
* In both area and population, Ukraine is one of the largest countries in the world to be both a unitary state and a democracy. (And yes, Ukraine is a democracy, albeit a troubled one at this juncture.)
The deadlock in Ukraine continues. President Viktor Yushchenko claims that until the Constitutional Court rules, his decree calling early parliamentary elections (set for 27 May) should remain in effect. That is a remarkable claim, as it means that his decree would be presumed valid until declared otherwise, even though it takes quite an expansive reading of the constitution to find a dissolution power among the president’s unilateral capacities.
Meanwhile, the international press continues to say things like Prime Minister Viktor “Yanukovich staged a remarkable [post-Orange Revolution] comeback in Ukraine’s last parliamentary election.”
Pardon me for continuing to fail to see anything remarkable in Yanukovych’s party going from (an almost certainly inflated) 41.4% in the first round of the presidential election of 2004 (and 45.9% in the runoff) to 32.1% of the total vote, or 41.4% of the above-threshold vote, in the 2006 parliamentary election.
Ukraine’s political crisis, which has been building for months, has taken a dramatic turn with President Viktor Yushchenko’s decision to dissolve parliament and call new elections for 27 May.
Yushchenko’s main rival and current Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych has called the move a coup.
Yushchenko and Yanukovych have been in an uneasy “cohabitation” forced upon the President when one of his erstwhile “Orange Revolution” allies, the Socialist Party, joined with Yanukovych after the parliamentary elections in March, 2006.
The crisis shows the continuing disagreement about the scope of the powers of the president and the parliament. After the Orange Revolution, the rival Viktors agreed to a series of constitutional amendments that stripped the presidency of initiative in the appointment or dismissal of the Prime Minister and cabinet, placing that power in whatever majority forms within parliament. However, the presidency retained its veto (requiring two thirds to override), and appointment power over some ministries and other officials. (With his veto, the President was able to block the 2007 budget that the Prime Minister’s coalition had passed.) This arrangement, with a cabinet dependent primarily on parliament but the latter facing a veto-wielding presidency, was sure to be unstable, especially in the absence of well established political parties.
The uncertainties over the precise balance of presidential and prime-ministerial powers and the weakness of political parties have both played into the generation of this moment of crisis. Parliament last year passed a Law on the Cabinet over the head of Yushchenko’s veto. While in some ways the law merely institutionalized the agreements made in the wake of the Orange Revolution regarding the shift of most control over the cabinet to the parliamentary majority, the President objected that it went farther in depriving him of authority than what the amended constitution called for. (Please see the discussion of the cabinet law that I participated in over at the Orange Ukraine blog.)
As for the parties, Yanukovych has succeeded in wooing (buying?) individual MPs from even Yushchenko’s own party. The President has claimed that the party defections are unconstitutional. It seems (from my perspective) a stretch to make such an argument.* Nonetheless, clearly the spirit behind the shift to a single national district, closed-list PR, system for the 2006 elections was for parties to take precedence over individuals, who (by design) now have no personal accountability to voters or geographic subunits. The defections are reminders that while one can make candidates and legislators dependent for their election and reelection on party leaders, it is hard to legislate strong parties, and there is never a guarantee that MPs won’t find tempting the offers of leaders in parties other than the one on whose list they were elected.
As much as I dislike saying so, I think Yanukovych almost certainly has the constitutional argument on his side. I see no provision for early elections, other than as a result of failures of the parliamentary parties themselves to create a governing majority. Clearly, there is no such issue here. This indeed does look like a coup attempt by the President.
What I find particularly puzzling is why Yushchenko would want new elections. Given the absence of any trend in favor of the Orange forces over recent elections–even through the Orange Revolution itself–his prospects for significantly improving his position in a new parliamentary election would seem bleak. The table below shows the 2002, 2004, and 2006 results. It was originally part of a post-election analysis I did in this space, and at the previous planting there is some discussion of the patterns.
Click the image to open a larger format in a new window.
Note: I have covered Ukraine, a country have a strong personal passion for, off an on since the earliest days of this blog. Just click on the country name at the top of this entry and scroll for topics of possible interest.
Kyiv’s spectacular Pechersk Lavra or “cave” monastery complex–one of the most sacred sites for orthodox Christians, is in danger of collapsing.
On our visit to Ukraine in 2005 I took the above photo of the Assumption Church, just one small portion of this vast and stunning complex. The most famous, and most threatened, portion is the tunnels underneath the complex and down to the Dnieper River.
The monks are hoping for support from the Ukrainian government and international organizations to preserve the site before it is too late. But as I suggest in my source note below, the attention this has gotten thus far in Western media is a deafening silence.
Note on source: I first saw this story on either BBC or DW TV over a week ago, and had awaited a print/Web source to cite; but the only news item I have found through Google is a paid-subscriber item in Moscow Times. There is a blog post at Medieval News with a very thorough overview. I am surprised this has not garnered more attention.
The tensions inherent in the unusual constitutional arrangements of Ukraine, the rather inconclusive nature of the 2006 parliamentary elections, and the current cohabitation of the two Viktors* have broken out into the open in several parliamentary votes in the past week.
The Ukrainian parliament voted 249-6 to approve the 2007 budget, with legislators from President Viktor Yushchenko’s bloc and that of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko abstaining in protest. (Parliament has 450 members.) The president has a veto (with 2/3 required to override), so there may be a showdown looming.
This vote comes in the context of considerable (and hardly surprising) tension in the Orange-Blue coalition formed earlier this year. While the post-Orange Revolution constitutional reforms shifted the appointment of the prime minister to the parliamentary majority, they retained appointment authority in the president’s hands for the foreign and interior ministers. Last week, parliament voted, 247-57, to sack the foreign minister, and 248-22 to do the same to the interior minister. The President ordered the foreign minister to remain on the job, which prompted the Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, to bar him from a session.
And that tug-of-war over the cabinet followed closely on a vote (233-1) in which the parties of Yushchenko and Tymoshenko joined to pass a bill proclaiming the Holodmor, or Death by Hunger, of the Stalin era a “genocide.” (Yanukovych’s party preferred to call it a mere “tragedy,” so as not to disturb his friends in Russia.)
Close-up of one section of the Holodmor monument in central Kyiv, just outside the St. Michael’s church.
Meanwhile, a recent poll finds that one in three Ukrainians do not want Jews to be citizens of their country. I wonder what the regional breakdown of that poll was. I would expect such attitudes to be less prevalent in the west than in the Yanukovych strongholds of the east. But in any event, this polling result is disturbing in a country with a rich Jewish past and an ongoing revival of the remnant community.
Sadly, it is not surprising that a large segment of the Ukrainian population would express such attitudes. After all, as the monument below attests, Bohdan Khmelnytsky (Bogdan Chmielnicki) remains a national hero in Ukraine as he was in the USSR, his atrocities in the mid-seventeenth century against Jews notwithstanding. I would be more optimistic that the conflicts expressed by the legislative and cabinet wrangling described above were just symptoms of the growing pains of democracy were it not for the fact that Khmelnytsky remains a nationalist rallying point more or less uncontroversially.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and the man he defeated in the wake of the Orange Revolution of late 2004, Viktor Yanukovych, yesterday signed a Declaration of National Unity. The expected government will contain the parties led by the two men, plus the Socialists. Yanukovych will be prime minister. The three parties won a combined 299 seats in elections for the 450-seat Verkhovna Rada on 26 March.
The Communists, who have 21 seats, probably will be excluded. They were essential to a majority for any Yanukovych-led coalition that excluded Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party, but would be superfluous now.
This is a far better outcome than the one that had looked imminent till yesterday, by which the coalition would have been Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, the Socialists, and the Communists. Such a combination never seemed likely, because of internal policy contradictions and also because the presidential veto power retained in Ukraine’s reformed constitution means that a cabinet not including the president’s party is potentially stymied in taking any initiative. Yet it was on the brink of forcing Yushchenko’s hand (given that the initiative in forming a government rests with whatever coalition of parliamentary parties forms).
In the final analysis, the proposed Regions-Socialist-Communist coalition was clever brinksmanship by Yanukovych and Socialist leader Oleskander Moroz. Once Yushchenko and his first prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko–whose party rather embrassed Yushchenko’s in the parliamentary elections in March–could not agree, Moroz played his “Regions” card. He and Yanukovych thus come out as the big winners.
Given the divisions in Ukraine, a grand coalition is a good outcome. The coalition will be exactly one seat short of the two thirds needed to pass constitutional reforms. Given that none of these parties is really a programmatic party in the West European sense, the coalition probably will not have anything close to perfect party discipline.
In other words, Tymoshenko, who will be leader of the opposition, may find herself a player on matters that require amending the constitution.
In March, the two “core” Orange* parties –Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine and the bloc of former premier Yulia Tymoshenko–together outpolled Regions, though came short of a majority. Their failling short of a majority was not a surprise; they knew they would need to keep the Socialists on board, as well as patch up their own differences, in order to resume governing together.
At the conclusion of the just-linked post, from September, 2005, I noted the following:
If the pro-reform forces go into the March elections separately, it will mean that post-election horse-trading, rather than any clearly expressed mandate of the voters, will be the dominant factor in determining who governs.
Post-election horse-trading, and not an electoral “trouncing” of the Orange parties, is exactly what has resulted in Yanukovych’s being on the brink of returning to power as prime minister. The new “Blue-Red” coalition was formed on account of the Socialists switching sides and the Communists deciding they like oligarchs after all.
The KPost story is actually from AP. So the KPost can’t be accused of writing such nonsense about what is happening under their nose. Only of printing it.
* As a fruit fancier, yes, I know, oranges do not have cores.
Ukraine’s constitutional deadline for the formation of a majority government after the 26 March elections has now passed. President Viktor Yushchenko has not indicated what his next move is, and there is much speculation over whether he is preparing to dissolve parliament or is simply negotiating for cabinet portfolios for his Our Ukraine party.
As I understand the Ukrainian constitutional amendments that took effect on 1 January–and Ukrainian experts disagree with one another over their interpretation– the conditions under which Yushchenko could dissolve parliament are lacking. Parliament has sixty days from its first post-election session to form a majority, which then submits a candidate for Prime Minister to the President. As best I can tell (reading translations of the amendments and a Council of Europe analysis), the President has no choice but to formally appoint the candidate put forward by the majority.
That candidate is Viktor Yanukovych, and the majority that has put his name forward is made up of his Party of Regions, the Communist Party, and the erstwhile Yushchenko ally, the Socialist Party. That candidate was put forward before the 24 July deadline, and thus, even though he has not been formally appointed yet, it would seem unlikely that the President could trigger the conditions for dissolution simply by sitting on the nomination of a candidate whom he does not favor.
Yushchenko claims he has until 2 August to make a decision. That may be so, but it would appear that the “decision” must be to accept Yanukovych as Prime Minister. But no doubt–in addition to seeking portfolios–he is looking for a way to claim that the presentation of the majority’s candidate was somehow irregular.
Some members of Yanukovych’s coalition claim that parliament can formally approve the appointment of the Prime Minister if the President fails to act. The President claims that such an act would be unconstitutional. Oleksander Moroz, the head of the Socialist Party, claims that parliament is ready to disobey any dissolution order.
With the parties not having agreed on Constitutional Court nominees to fill vacancies, it is not clear who currently has the authority to rule on such disputes.
I would not normally post the following photo, which is of quite poor quality. But on a day when the memorial to the more than 30,000 Jews killed by the Nazis at Babi Yar has been “badly vandalized,” I must post it. As a small token of remembrance. And as an expression of outrage.
Babi Yar is on the outskirts of Kyiv. In September, 1941, the Einsatzgruppen killed over 100,000 people in the span of a few days, including nearly 20% of Kyiv’s Jewish population in the first two days of the masacre.
It was late and getting dark, especially by the time we finally reached the monument to the Jewish vicitms, deep within the park, near where the massacre actually took place.
Located nearer to the metro station is the Brezhnev-era monument to “Soviet citizens” and a newer monument to child victims. Both are depicted in the Ladera Frutal travel pages.
The Jerusalem Post story linked at the beginning of this entry notes:
President Viktor Yushchenko has announced tentative plans for a high-profile service this September to remember Babi Yar victims, inviting numerous heads of state, including US President George W. Bush. Ukrainian Jews have welcomed the plans, but said the government needs to do more to combat anti-Semitism after some high profile attacks on Jews last year.
Just as it seemed certain that Ukraine’s ‘orange’ coalition would return to power under former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the Socialist party has defected. Earlier, Socialist leader Oleksander Moroz had threatened to walk out if he did not get the speakership of parliament. At the time, I suggested he was over-playing his hand: that, while the orange coalition could not form without his party, his party would be in opposition without the orange partners.
However, what I did not count on–and apparently, neither did his orange partners–was that both Moroz and 2004 presidential loser Viktor Yanukovych would be willing to deal with the Communist Party. Now the Communist (21 seats), Socialist (34), and Yanukovych’s Party of Regions (180) claim to have a majority coalition ready, with Yanukovych as prime minister.
If this proposed opposition coalition really has formed, it is a stunning blow to Yushchenko. He somehow managed to lose what should have been a pivotal position, and will be forced to yield the bulk of governmental powers to a government that will be much friendlier to Russia. He would be a lame duck less than two years after the so-called Orange Revolution.
This may not be the last word in the matter, but the clock will run out soon on this parliament. If its proposed prime minister has failed to form a govenment by 20 July, the president has the right to dissolve parliament and set a new election.
Not only has Ukraine advanced to the FIFA World Cup quarterfinals (in a less than inspiring or encouaraging match), but Yulia Tymoshenko will soon return to the prime ministership, heading a revived ‘Orange’ coalition. That was always the only outcome that made sense, though the Party of Regions, which won the irrelevant plurality in the March elections, is not taking it well, promoting a blockade that forced the coalition deputies to meet in parliament’s movie house.
Tymoshenko will immediately face the pressing issue of the conflict with Russia over gas and is calling for a new deal that does not involve intermediary companies. Today there were protests over gas price increases that BBC reports were as big as the Orange Revolution protests of late 2004.
If by my laws you walk, and my commands you keep, and observe them,
then I will give-forth your rains in their set-time,
so that the earth gives-forth its yield
and the trees of the field give-forth their fruit.
--Vayikra 26: 3-4