Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Yush pulls one PoR sleeve while Yulka pulls other sleeve

In an interview in the latest 'Russian Newsweek', PM Yulia Tymoshenko admits co-operating with Party of Regions on voting through a new Constitution in parliament [which would turn Ukraine into a parliamentary republic].

BYuT and PoR would have to vote together for this to be achieved. Currently PoR have 175 parliamentary deputies, BYuT 156, NUNS 72, Communists 27 and Lytvyn's block 27.

"Qu: But why are you still working on the new constitution [project] but are not introducing it in parliament?

Because we as yet are not sure of sufficient support of two thirds of parliament. But we are conducting constant consultations in regard to this.

Qu: Even with Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions?

Yes, and with them also.

Qu: Through mediators?

No, directly; as with all other fractions in parliament. And as soon as we feel we have 300 votes of support, we will immediately submit a new Constitution [in parliament]."

The 'Russian Newsweek' article claims that BYuT and PoR have secretly collaborated in writing a draft version of the Ukrainian Constitution, and a mutually agreed new version is all but ready.

Tymoshenko recently said, "I consider a parliamentary form of government will finally bring order and everything will be as in Germany. There will be a Chancellor and there will be order." On what will happen with the head of state, she remarks, "the president remains and countrywide elections for the presidency remain, but with reduced powers, as in Poland."

[The interview itself is posted on Tymoshenko's official website too.]

President Yushchenko, on the other hand, needs Party of Regions for his broad coalition project..which would drive Tymoshenko back into opposition. When Yushchenko was asked by journalists last Sunday for whom he was voting in Kyiv's mayoral elections, he replied: " My affections have changed somewhat, because I'm convinced the processes that have taken place in Kyiv lead us to change our assessment and our approaches to those political forces who even a few years ago where popular and synchronous with the feelings of people. So, its changed somewhat, but I voted with my conscience."

Not much of an endorsement for the orange candidates then..

p.s. The appointment of the former executive director of controversial gas-trading company RosUkrEnergo, and also Gazprom board member, Konstantin Chuychenko, as an aide to the Russian president and head of the audit directorate of the presidential secretariat indicatesthat RosUkrEnergo is "not just an appendage to theRussian authorities but is the authorities", according Vitaliy Portnikov writing in 'Kontrakty'. He warns that politicians who want to establish a "transparent scheme" for gas deliveriesto Ukraine should now recognize that they are fighting against the Kremlin, and it is not clear that this is a fight Ukraine can win. [Thanks Peter]


UkrToday said...

The sooner Ukraine can complete the transition from a presidential dictatorship to a parliamentary democracy the sooner we will see an end to the divisive and destructive power games initiated by the President, Victor Yushchenko.

In April 2007 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe had, rightly advocated that Ukraine adopted a full parliamentary system in line with other European States. Such a move makes common sense given Ukraine's desire and intention to also become a member of the EU.

Last Month Yulia Tymoshenko publicly stated that she would be advocating for constitutional change with the intention of introducing amendments to Ukraine's constitution in May that would see Ukraine become a parliamentary democracy.

Sadly Yulia has not yet followed through or fulfill her promise to the people of Ukraine and the world still awaits publication of her draft proposals.

Party of Regions has indicated that it has its own version, The Communist Party have indicated support for a parliamentary system which presumably will also be supported by Lytvyn.

The chairman of the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine, Arseniy Arseniy Yatsenyuk, at odds with his party, today indicated that he was of the belief that the constitution did not need urgent reform and put in a plea to buy some time . (The fact is the current constitution is not as bad as some would have us believe. Yushchenko has spread a lot of mistruths and false claims - Yes it could be better and ideally it should remove all power from the head of state. Power is best held in the collective control of the peoples elected parliament)

The greatest concern I have is that Yulia is using the proposed amendments to Ukraine's Constitution as some wort of whip to keep Yushchenko in line and to secure short term political gain. If this is the case then any hope for Ukraine becoming a true democracy will be referred to the next generation and Ukraine can kiss good bye to the dreams and aspirations of becoming a member of the EU.

What is clear is that a parliamentary system is the best option and that as long as Yushchenko remains head of state, constantly undermining Ukraine's economic and democratic development, Ukraine will continue to suffer a plague of political crisis and political divisions.

Yulia and the opposition must act in the best long term interest of Ukraine and not for perceived short term political gain.

The proposal of introducing constitutional and electoral reform should receive the highest priority and fresh presidential and parliamentary elections should follow soon after.

If Yulia waits too long then come November, if not sooner, Yushchenko will once again sell out Ukraine's democratic values and plunge Ukraine into another, possible worst, constitutional crisis.

hans said...

Ah yes, because the Rada is such a well-oiled machine now, there's absolutely nothing that could go wrong if you vest even more power into it...

I still don't think you can categorically say that a parliamentary republic (or a premier-presidential system of semi-presidentialism, as proposed by Yulia) is the cure-all to Ukriane's political problems.

The current system is far from perfect, that's for sure, but there's this fixation on changing the constitutional (pretty much since Kuchma's 2000 referendum attempt) with the idea that "we can make it perfect if we just change it one more time."

There's so many other things that need to get reformed and developed that even if the constitution was replaced tomorrow, the country would still be locked in political deadlock and new crises would emerge.

More important, I think: strengthening the political party system, increasing deputy accountability, ensuring institutional independence of organs such as the National Bank, the NERC, the anti-monopoly service, constitutional court, privatization fund, etc.

When deputies switch parties, "resign" from parties mid-mandate, hide behind immunity, etc., when political forces blithely resort to obstructing the Rada, when every single issue is goverened by the looming (pre-term, invariably) election -- that doesn't inspire confidence on a productive parliament.

As for Chuychenko, I view him more as Medvedev's guy than RosUkrEnergo's, if that makes sense. They went to law school together, they worked together closely in St. Petersburg, and when Medevedev wanted to make sure he would have someone involved at RUE he could trust (to balance out other interests, i.e. Alexander Medvedev's), Dima Medvedev chose him. I think it's silly to say, "oh, now the Kremlin is backing RUE" -- it was Putin who signed the deal (with Kuchma) that brought RUE into the picture to begin with, so there's always been a strong connection to the Russian government. Plus, Medvedev has made public statements about getting rid of RUE. Not sure exactly how the new leadership at Gazprom (Zubkov...) will handle things...

LEvko said...

Thank you UkrToday for your detailed comments which are very welcome. I agree that introduction of constitutional and electoral reform should receive the highest priority. But much depends on Party of Regions' attitude to this.

What has to be borne in mind though, is that a Constitution is not a rule-book, it's more a set of principles. Any party in power, or any president will not necessarily adhere to the spirit of the Constitution. Yushchenko's dismissal of parliament last year was without doubt unconstitutional, but it happened. As long as the Constitutional Court judges are yours..

IMO PoR will settle the score with Yushchenko for last year's dissmissal of the VR at a time that suits them.

UkrToday said...

Hans I do not believe that the parliamentary democracy is a cure all BUT I am 100% assured that it is a solid foundation in which to build a democracy. what is scalar is the presidential system has failed Ukraine. Had Ukraine adopted a parliamentary system from day one as other eastern European Nations had done I am sure Ukraine would be a lot closer to becoming a member of the EU then it is now. The ongoing conflict between Yushchenko and the parliament is destructive and definitely does not serve Ukraine's best interest. A parliamentary "rule of law" system is by far more democratic and has more built in checks and balances then a Presidential "rule by decree" dictarship. Ukraine Must take collective responsibility for its own destiny and this is best down under the governance of an elected parliament.

There is a saying ... Where there is no counsel the people fall but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. - Westminster.

The system of governance is the design and foundation of democracy.

Yushchenko has undermined that foundation and in the process he has set back Ukraine five to ten years in its development. The sooner Ukraine can remove the abuse of presidential power the better off Ukraine will be.