Thursday, May 08, 2008

Tymoshenko's bluff?

Premier Tymoshenko's personal website runs a posting entitled: "Yulia Tymoshenko is expecting to submit a project of changes to the Constitution next week." It quotes her as saying: "I really expect that next week changes may be submitted to parliament on the basis of a consolidated majority in the VR [parliament]."

'Gazeta po Kiyevski' have provided quick analysis on her declaration:

BYuT leader stakes all - it cannot be excluded that she is bluffing, and that there are not the 300 votes in parliament required to change the Constitution.

The premier is possibly simply frightening the president that she will reduce his powers if he proves to be intractable.

Prime minister Yulia Timoshenko has unexpectedly declared that next week in parliament she may introduce changes to the Constitution. And she hopes that for this purpose, a constitutional majority of 300 votes will be collected. Rumours of unofficial negotiations between BYuT and the opposition may be shown to be true. The purpose of these arrangements, is, clearly, the transfer of powers between the government, the president and parliament.

Political scientist Konstantin Bondarenko assumes the leader of BYuT's statement indicates that she is already aware of the results of these secret negotiations.

Others do not agree: while the Constitution project has not received public support and all political forces have not approved it, statements about 300 votes is mere political spin or bluff, they say. Tymoshenko simply wishes to score political points over the president.
Blackmail or not, next week parliament returns to work after the May holidays.

'Gazeta po Kiyevski's sources reveal that events may pan out very quickly: the bill is to be sent to the Constitutional Court and the current VR session is to accept it in the first reading. BYuT will demand the president quickly puts forward any proposed ammendments. "We will consider all proposals, introduced to parliament," said BYuT deputy Valery Pisarenko. "We propose cardinal changes be made on how power is distributed. They will concern parliament, the president, Constitutional Court, the Central Electoral Committee, and the Office of Public Prosecutor. It will be the reformation of the country to a parliamentary republic. And the opposition will acquire the right to form governing bodies in parliament and to supervise executive authority. The president will no longer have powers to influence the economy. He will not be able to block the work of the government. The president will remain the guarantor of the rights and freedoms of citizens. Governors will finally be subordinate to the Cabinet of Ministers. The president will be only able to send them greeting cards on Holy days. He will not have any relation to executive authorities, and appointments in the system of executive authority will be made with the participation of the prime-minister," said the BYuT deputy.

Pisarenko added the president can make proposals, but doubts, that Yushchenko could gain even 100 votes of support. Optimistic forecasters in BYuT suggest that by the autumn the country could already be living under the new Constitution.

But in the Party of Regions, on whose support Tymoshenko is counting, no-one has yet confirmed these arrangements.

"Perhaps, conceptually in the things BYuT proposes it is possible to say, that they can be supported," said 'Regional' Yuriy Miroshnichenko. "We have our own project; we too have prepared systemic changes intended to finalise political reform, the liquidation of two centers of influence on executive authority, and guaranteeing real local self-government."

The pro-presidential fraction, NUNS, meanwhile does not have a uniform position on these initiatives. In the opinion of NUNS deputy Yuriy Karmazin, a minimum of a year is required for the process of modification of the fundamental law of the land, so therefore it is hardly possible to expect any amendments to the Constitution already during this VR session.

Even though the compromise of 2004, when many changes to the Constitution were brought about in one packet, is still too memorable, this was result of political arrangements at the time of the orange revolution.

LEvko wonders if this is just a bit of 'tit-for-tat'. Some days ago Tymoshenko postponed an official visit to Sweden because of the tense political situation in Ukraine. Later next week Yushchenko is to be in Great Britain on an official visit. He is to meet members of the Royal family and top politicians, and also address a prestigious gathering. Maybe Yulka is just trying to spoil his trip..


UkrToday said...

I agree with your analysis above. Discussions I have had with senior members of both political parties (BYuT and PoR) indicate that there is as an agreed position in the making.

But, as is always the case in Ukrainian politics, deals can be cut and deals can also be undone.

Yushchenko's team is busy working away trying to unstitch the deals that have been put in place (See articles on President's visit to Kharkiv football match)

Clearly Yushchenko does not support Ukraine's transition to a full European style parliamentary democracy.

Party of Regions has previously indicated support for a parliamentary democracy.

You must also remember that the tabling of the Parliament's draft constitution is just the beginning.

Once agreement is made, the agreed document would need to be presented to the Constitutional Court and made open to the the public, copies need to be sent to the Venice Commission for their consideration (Pursuant to Ukraine's membership agreement of the Council of Europe) and reviewed prior to the Parliament voting on the adoption of any amendments.

Yulia has effectively taken back control of the agenda and in doing so has armed herself with a potential alternative weapon should Yushchenko try and disband the newly elected parliament(Come October 2008) or seek to prevent the right of the parliament to enact changes to Ukraine's constitution.

Yushchenko is part of the problem and not the solution.

There are two main issues each separate and each one intertwined.

1. The system of Governance - Parliamentary democracy

2. The proposed electoral system and representative model adopted.

I have no doubt that the proposed move towards a European style Parliamentary democracy is a step forward and would put an end to the divisive power struggle and abuse of authority, illegal and unconstitutional actions initiated by the Office of the President.

As I understand if the new constitution is brought into existence then there will be early presidential and fresh parliamentary elections to follow.

What concerns me the most is the proposed electoral model that has been discussed.

There is talk of holding a two-round parliamentary ballot. If no one party has 50% of the vote then the top two parties will face a run-off ballot and the winner would secure 50%+1 of the available positions. It is unclear how the remaining positions will be divided. I am not sure if this proposal will see the light of day. Hopefully it will not.

If implemented it will diminish the ability of the parliament to perform the role of checks and balances and would also distort the one vote one value principle

Yushchenko has two choices,. he can jump on board and try band make a positive contribution to the debate or he can seek to undermine Ukraine's democratic development by once again undermining Ukraine's political stability.

Gene said...

Yulia...often...with her like a bull in a china closet where Baloha can be like a fox. There can be advantages to both?

Could this be the ploy that brings down Yulia and allows the president to form the Grand Alliance that has been speculated on? Maybe Yulia is not as smart as I thought?

Gene said...

I don't know if Yulia has the votes or not, but I would think she is close. The problem is Renat. I tend to believe he wants to work with Yush, but I also think he wants to undermine Yanu. I think many have made a mistake in thinking Yanu was past history. He might have been, except for the numerous mistakes made by Yush which have given him new popularity and helped decrease the popularity of the Democratic Coalition.

My biggest concern is that if she manages to change the style of govt to a parliamentary style of govt, will she be able to retain power? My guess is no...and I would hate to see Yanu gain the PM position, especially with a weakened president.

The newspaper "Business Ukraine" had a very interesting article the other day. It was about where would Ukraine be now if Yanu had retained the presidency in 2004. Basically, the comparison was that Ukraine would be a very similar country as Belarus with the Russians in complete control of the transit system, as well as the Ukrainian govt. Yanu would be far worse for Ukraine than even a Kuchma or a Lukashenko in Belarus.