Ukraine, never ending story

polit ru
9 October 2008

The 6th Ukrainian Parliament (Supreme Rada) lasted less than a year  The ruling coalition has collapsed and a new one must be formed within a month.  President Viktor Yushchenko has dissolved parliament and announced a snap election.  The necessary decree has been signed and the new elections are scheduled for 7 December.

"I am announcing the suspension of the Supreme Rada and an early election.  Voting will take place democratically and in accordance with the law," the President stated in his TV broadcast.  He did not indicate a date for the election, but according to the Constitution pre-term elections must take place within 2 months of the decree being signed.

"As of 8 October 2008 no political party has put forward a proposal for the formation of a majority coalition, which proposal has to be signed by more than 225 deputies.  When the parliamentary parties have painted themselves into a corner, the decision has to be taken by the Ukrainian people", said Yushchenko in his prerecorded statement, which was broadcast while he was in Italy.

The President holds the Prime Minister, Yuliya Tymoshenko, responsible for the collapse of the coalition.  He said that the coalition had been destroyed by the personal ambition of one person, a hunger for power, differing values and the predominance of personal interests over national.  Speaking of the Prime Minister, Yushchenko effectively gave coice to  the accusations of high treason, which have been emanating from his office for some time.  He spoke of "external dangers" and "non-Ukrainian" "hostile scenarios".  "Yuliya Tymoshenko's bloc has become the hostage of its leaders, because they are prepared to sacrifice everything - language, security and our European prospects", declared Yushchenko.

Yuliya Tymoshenko's bloc has no intention of taking issue with the President over the dissolution of parliament; they are not planning either to vote in the Rada for the laws needed to organise an election campaign.  A budget has to be drawn up for the election committees and, moreover, any changes in the state budget have to be agreed by the Cabinet of Ministers.

The first international reaction to the dissolution of the Ukrainian parliament was the European Union.  "We note the President's decision.  We regret that efforts to build a coalition have not been successful at a time when Ukraine has particular need of political stability in order to address the many challenges it currently faces.  We are following events", announced Christina Gallach,  spokesman of the EU's Supreme Representative for Foreign Policy and Security, Javier Solana.

Ukrainian Independent Information Agency reports that the ex-president of Poland, Alexander Kvasniewski,  described Yushchenko's decision as a 'serious mistake'  on Polish Information TV channel TVN24.  "There was a slight chance of setting up an expanded democratic coalition Tymoshenko-Yushchenko-Lytvyn and we were working on it", said the ex-president.  "An early election will not only fail to bring the desired result, different from the last election", he continued,  but  the new election "could be a crushing defeat for President Yushchenko himself."  And on top of this an early parliamentary election will mean deferring for many months serious talks on EU and NATO entry, said Kvasniewski.

Observers maintain that an early election has really no chance of effecting any serious changes in the political landscape.  At best it can only reduce numbers in the presidential bloc.   Yushchenko's popularity rating in the country is extremely low, if Polish social surveys are to be believed.

It should be remembered that the previous coalition between the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc (YTB)  and the presidential faction "Our Ukraine - Our Self-defence" (Our Ukraine) finally came unstuck in September.  It had anyway not really been a coalition since the springtime, when it lost the mandatory 225 majority.  The  situation was formalised when at the beginning of September the YTB united with Yushchenko's opponents from the Party of the Regions (PR) to pass a series of laws aimed at significantly reducing presidential powers.  At that point Our Ukraine deputies announced they were leaving the coalition.  On 16 September the Chairman of the Supreme Rada, Arsenii Yatsenyuk, officially declared in parliament that the coalition was disbanded.

While all this was happening, Yushchenko supporters were accusing Prime Minister Tymoshenko of betrayal and treason and her government of incompetence.  The special accusation was that by going over to PR she had provoked the collapse of the coalition within the parliament.  There were also more serious accusations - that she had done a deal with Moscow in return for their support of her struggle with Yushchenko for the post of president.   Presidential elections will take place in 2009-2010.

After a month of talks Tymoshenko announced she would agree to any compromise in order to re-establish the majority.  The former coalition members repealed most of the laws that had vexed the president, but the new coalition still failed to work.  At the end of last week Yushchenko gave the deputies until 7 October to form a new ruling coalition and once more warned of possible dissolution.  On 7 October Yushchenko had a meeting with Our Ukraine  deputies.  He told them he was not considering the possibility of rebuilding the  coalition with YTB, but would permit the creation of a majority formed from YTB, PR and the Communists.  After that there was an announcement that consultations were taking place to discuss dissolving parliament.  However, YTB and PR deputies agree unanimously that there is no possibility of meeting Yushchenko's demands and creating a coalition from the groups he has named.    As Viktor Yanukovych, leader of the PR said, he and Tymoshenko "have no ideological common ground on the basis of which agreement could be reached."

News service www.polit.ru


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