Sunday, September 16, 2007

Illuminating speculation from 'Kommentarii'

Some interesting, informative and well-reasoned speculation in the latest 'Kommentarii', in an article entitled: "Life after the elections"

I've loosely translated some portions:

"The snap parliamentary election campaign was undertaken not only for the sake of re-elections to the VR. The aim - at a maximum - was to create a dependable base for carrying out a referendum on the constitution , to tame regional councils, and to ensure a presidential election victory for Viktor Yushchenko, providing him with a second term in office.

At first sight it would appear that for the President's Secretariat, the early elections are a matter of 'sh*t or bust'. The chances of a victory for either the ruling coalition or the opposition are identical - within statistical error. As in 2004 and in 2006, neither "white-blue", nor "orange" will have a significant majority.

However the presidential team is playing another game in which even defeat in parliamentary elections is only a lost fight - hardly an argument for capitulation. The only alternative for which they are not ready on 'Bank Street' [pres. secretariat] is the highly improbable uniting of efforts of Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yanukovych.
The authorship of idea of parliamentary re-elections of parliament belongs to BYuT.

Even if it will be possible to create a pro-presidential 'coalition of democratic forces' in the new parliament, and even if BYuT has the 'controlling share', this will not mean automatic nomination of Tymoshenko as prime minister. Yushchenko will demand certain guarantees: first, that BYuT unconditionally supports the president's initiatives, particularly the presidents proposal in any referendum on the constitution, and secondly, that Tymoshenko supports Yushchenko in the 20009 presidential elections.

There is a considerable risk that Yushchenko and Tymoshenko will disagree, not only on the distribution of powers, but also about a program of actions to be conducted after the elections, including re-election of local councils and mayor of Kiev, and Ukraine's possible application to join NATO, etc. There is a substantial possibility of almost immediate infringement of agreements made between the two parties also.

At the moment NUNS and BYuT are speaking about two different referendums: NUNS about the new Constitution, and BYuT about a choice between parliamentary and presidential forms of state administration. Both parties understand that the realizing of BYuT's proposal is fraught with problems for Yushchenko, whereas for Tymoshenko, whatever the outcome of a plebiscite, she will be in advantageous position.

Formation of a common position by the two political forces has been postponed until after the elections. The greatest stimulus to unity between NUNS and BYuT is that if they once again show an inability to reach concensus, they, and their leaders, will lose electoral support.

The main players in the elections are now seriously considering extreme possibilities. For example, no-one can now give a guarantee, that the new parliament will safely come to power. The problem is not with legal proceedings, though these could be drawn out, rather with expected decisions to recount votes in different areas - claims are being prepare already now.

The greatest risk faced is that in certain constituencies the results of elections could be annulled. In this case there will be a questions raised on the legitimacy of the new parliament, as the will of inhabitants of some areas will appear to have been ignored.
Particularly acute problems may be expected if the destiny of any party achieving around 3% of votes cast [the minimum threshold required to enter parliament] is in question, or if the two opposing coalitions receive approximately identical number of mandates.

In the event that the 'blue and whites' lose, PoR and its possible satellites will insist that the previously elected VR remains the most legitimate. The extraordinary September 4th session of the VR, which the ruling coalition considers legitimate, but the President and opposition do not, supports this possible turn of events.

If the post-election situation becomes aggravated or, not less probable, if the president's team wishes to aggravate it, there remains the possibility that the presidential team will not permit the new parliament to function at all. And, as the Constitution demands the government lays down its powers before the newly elected VR, the Cabinet too will appear illegitimate. In this case the President could nominate temporarily-acting members of the government — and could announce a referendum, declaring it a panacea to permanent political crisis.

The big risk is that the country could 'wind up' with two parliaments and two governments, and the legitimacy of both would be extremely doubtful. The country would be only one step away from splitting - it would be necessary only to divide up the 'power' organs: who submits to whom. But if all parties were to agree to leave the final say with the people, a referendum, most likely, would not be limited. It could include re-election of all authorities in conformity with a new Constitution, including the Supreme Rada and the President.

Hopes are not too high on the creation of a broad coalition. Previous attempts caused 'Our Ukraine' to lose significant support from its voters for a whole year. It is more probable, that in co-ordination with leading PoR 'shareholders, a "neutral" prime-minister, not formally connected with any political force, could be nominated. The PM's main task would be the formation of a "technocratic" government exclusively engaged on economic matters, as well as conducting a referendum. A pivotal role in this could be played by the Litvin Block, if it enters parliament.

This government could include the best-equipped professionals, irrespective of their previous political history. The head of such a government could even eventually become a realistic contender for the president's chair. Sadly, the more effective such a technical prime-minister proves to be, the shorter his period of office could turn out. Such are the laws of competition.

There are few people, apart from Tymoshenko's biggest enemies in NUNS and PoR, who have any faith in prospects of the new union between Yushchenko and Yanukovych. At stake are not only the post of prime-minister, but also the destiny of a referendum, and the entire political future of Yushchenko.

The President should hold on to either Tymoshenko or Yanukovych. Otherwise both of them will contenders in the presidential elections - and Viktor Andreevich may not even make it into the second round."

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