Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Presidential power under major threat

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.


Anonymous said...

A new constitution doesn't solve many of Tym's problems either though. If her law passes she won't have a coaltion anymore and she and Yanuk will be fighting each other for the premiership and bribing every faction and every individual member to try to put together a new coalition. In this fight Yanuk might well win, which is why he'd support this change. Alternatively she could go for an election maybe but the outcome will probably worse overall even if she in the best case scenario gets NUNS votes she still won't have a governming majority. If inflation carries on POR is more likely to get it.

Even in the "best case" and she becomes PM all the responsiblity for the economic mess and gas prices will be on her and any measures she tries to take will hurt.

In short going it alone might destory Yush but her dominance will be short lived to say nothing of the continuing damage to the country.

Anonymous said...

For a while there, I actually thought Baloha was going to do some good for the country and for the office of President.

No such luck.

It seems to me that if Yushchenko had simply stuck to his word, if he had simply stuck to democratic principles, today he would have been in much better shape politically, instead of having to rely on the whim of oligarchs.

Ukrainian politics currently is like a kaleidescope - you spin the pieces of glass around, and the patterns change - but the pieces of glass are exactly the same.

The thing to do is to break the kaleidescope, and bring in true democracy, rather than oligarchy.

Yushchenko keeps talking about how corruption is ruining the country = and then protects Firtash and shady gas middlemen and intermediaries who siphon millions of dollars from Ukraine, together with their Russian Gazprom counterparts.

Yushchenko must know something that we don't, or that he's not telling.

His actions make no sense.

He had the support of the people. Now he has the support of Akhmetov, theoretically, which can vanish in an instant.

And very little support from the people.

Did he think that the sharks which comprise Ukrainian politics would stand idly by and let Baloha maneuver with impunity?

Anonymous said...

Yushchenko is the cause of political divisions and instability in Ukraine today.

If anything the President has way too much power.

Yulia's decision to support Ukraine's transition to a full preliminary model is the right decision BUT the devil is in the detail.

Having attended the Democracy conference in Kyiv early this month those that were familiar with what was going on in Ukraine today clearly;y were of the view that Yushchenko's policies were wrong. You can not support democracy by being undemocratic.

Most of the participants (With the exception of the US delegations) were very much supportive of a parliamentary system. Which is best suited to Ukraine

It if false and misleading top claim that the President has no enough power- to the contrary he has to much power, power that he has misused and abused.

You have also missed the fact that Yulia recently appointed a new advisor..

Recent polls show Our Ukraine - People |self Defence with 8.5% support and Yushchenko is unwinnable be it Yulia vs Yushchenko or Yanukovych vs Yushchenko Yushchenko is the loser.

If you remove the arguments that are more designed to bring about a political outcome and look at the system as a whole where are far more checks and balances in a full parliamentary model then the parliament-presidential model. The lawyer has failed to deliver good governance and stability.

If Ukraine wants to be part of Europe tyhen it should look to Europe and not the USA for its political guidance. England, Germany or Finland are good examples of a parliamentary system.

One look at the US fiasco and costs involved in electing a President
should make it clear that a transition to a European parliamentary system is the way forward.