Speaking at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg several days ago, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said:
"The time has come to demarcate the functions of the authorities and make Ukraine a traditional parliamentary republic, as is characteristic of most European states. This model has an advantage over all other monopolistic systems of authority." Ms Tymoshenko stressed that this did not mean the removal of the presidential post, but rather a rebalancing of authority in line with best principles of European democracy.
The premier told journalists, "We have set ourselves the goal to conduct constitutional reforms by the end of this year." She continued to say that Ukraine will ask for assistance from the Venice Commission and PACE member states to help draft the necessary reforms. "Early elections, were not enough to prevent this imbalance," said Ms Tymoshenko, the time has come to alter the constitution and put an end to this tension because the people deserve better from their leaders. We should work together in harmony."
Similar thoughts were expressed by the head of BYuT in a TV interview over the weekend.
An article in '4Post' explains that in order to understand what has been going in in Ukrainian politics recently, it is useful to compare the words of the chief participants with their deeds:
On 17th April Viktor Yanukovych declared: "Hopes that we will initiate [call for] the resignation of the government, are vain". This was rather surprising as it followed a barrage of hostile statements by Yanukovych's companions-in-arms: that Yulia Tymoshenko's government had dragged down the economy and that the only way out of the crisis would be to remove her team from the country's levers of economic control.
It has to be remembered that both PoR and BYuT have sufficient numbers of VR deputies to cause the collapse of parliament if either were to walk out 'en bloc', forcing new elections.
It has been long widely assumed that the president's secretariat had done a deal with the "Akhmetov" wing of PoR on the creation of "wide" coalition based on a NUNS-PoR link-up, but probably without Viktor Yanukovych at the helm.
[PoR reluctantly accepted Yushchenko's constitutionally dubious dismissal of parliament just over a year ago, on the promise that a "wide"PoR-NUNS coalition would be formed after the early elections. Yushchenko has failed to deliver, and as other's have said in the past: "This organization does not tolerate failure"...hence their wish to clip the president's wings once and for all.]
In the medium term, Tymoshenko is betting that she can win any possible extraordinary parliamentary elections, rather than the next presidential elections in late 2009. This is indicated by BYuT's [secret?] deal with PoR: both parties, by the end of 2008, would vote through a new version of the Ukrainian Constitution in which the President would be reduced to a 'English queen' role, with all the levers of power located in the hands of prime minister.
According to '4Post's' sources in both BYuT and PoR, both parties have honestly told one other that there are no hidden traps in the deal, and that they will co-operate only on the question of adoption of a new constitution. After this they will be opponents again, fighting for power - with victory to the stronger.
Some PoR deputies have made similar declarations, quite openly, to other journalists too.
This PoR-BYuT deal puts the presidential secretariat in a difficult position, since any move may have negative consequences. Provoking Tymoshenko's resignation from the post of premier would make impossible for a new constitution to be adopted this year, but would make her hot favourite for the President's chair in a couple of year's time, when she would retain Yushchenko's considerable powers.
But now, if the president stands idly by, his power as President will be mercilessly reduced, and either Tymoshenko or Yanukovych will be the dominant politica figure in the land.
For the president to make a deal with Ukraine's richest businessman, Rinat Akhmetov, would not resolve the president's dilemma. Akhmetov is smart enough a businessman not to place all of his eggs into one basket, and he will align himself with whoever has the greater chance of gaining absolute power.