Thursday, January 12, 2006

Some more thinking on the vote

I was thinking yesterday that the vote on Monday dismissing the government was a real blow to Yuschenko. Today, I'm not so sure. Maybe I was looking at this through Western eyes. When governments in the West vote no confidence, the government falls. That is a real "no confidence" in the government. After that, the only thing left to do is to go to elections or form a new government.

But what was the result of Monday's vote? They took the largest bore they had, leveled it at the government, and fired away on all sides. But when it was all over and the smoke had cleared the government was still standing in place. After all that, no effect. Oh, they are fighting about whether the word "acting" should be used but if that is all the effect that a sitting legislature in a sovereign country has on the government, it is really pathetic. (Yekhanurov yesterday said that he was Prime Minister and not acting. Who's to contradict him? Maybe the Rada could schedule a vote on it?) This just undermines the credibility of the legislature, a point I was making yesterday. They might as well have been voting on the best recipe for grilled chicken for the all the effect it had on the government. You can't do these kinds of things and maintain any credibility. No credibility affects the power of the legislature.

I'm surprised Litvin was involved in this. It was he who husbanded the power of the Rada during the Orange Revolution something that allowed it to survive and to come out with some credibility and more power. On one occasion, when Tymoshenko--anybody remember this?--opened up the doors of the Rada building letting the revolutionaries come in, Litvin stood before the crowd and said something like, "We're doing your work. Let us get on with it." That dispersed the crowd and maybe saved the legislature as an institution. It at least allowed it to keep some credibility with the people and so you went down to the square and to the camp-in at the presidential administration building and you saw the large screen TVs tuned into the sessions of the Rada. This was so because it was doing the business of the people and had maintained some credibility. (Or had cultivated some credibility.) This is in no small part because they didn't take any stupid votes. So I'm surprised at Litvin being involved in this. Maybe he couldn't do anything about it though I suspect he could. But his party is in the running in March and, as LEvko said yesterday, there is politicking in this too.

But I think this presents an opening that Yuschenko could exploit. If he really wanted to, and Tymoshenko has suggested it because, I think, she would do it, he could dismiss the legislature and rule by decree. Forward to the past. I might make an argument that he should but, as I said yesterday, that would mean he needs to be very astute in what he does to move forward reform and create rule of law├é—a very difficult thing to do. Witness Russia under Putin.

At the very least, Yuschenko could hang this vote around everyone's neck. This means taking some swings out there. He hasn't seemed to be interested in doing this though. No one has yet except Tymoshenko but the blows from her have been light.

And no one has even started to go after Yanukovych, someone who has a past that is a target rich environment, as the military would say. He was involved in the vote on Monday. At least they ought to hang it around his neck. Somebody needs to do it.

UPDATE: I guess the obvious retort to the above argument is that the Rada told the government to remthe in power until the elections and that it had a right to do this under the Constitution. That is a legal nicety I don't think will come through. The Rada took its best shot and nothing happened. That is what will be out there.

But this puts me at odds with a lot of people. They disagree and think that it has weakened Yuschenko and strengthened everyone else. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

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