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									     Prince of Orange
     Yatsenyuk to launch his own bloc as he looks to play coalition kingmaker in the Orange civil war

     Taras Kuzio

           ollowing the collapse of the Orange         former parliamentary speaker Arseniy Yatse-       a nosedive from which he has never recov-
           coalition on 16 September it is             nyuk will be looking to punch above their         ered. As a result Ukrainian politics finds itself
           anybody’s guess what President Viktor       weight as they play the role of kingmaker to      in a somewhat irrational position with the
     Yushchenko’s strategy will be. After all, there   a future coalition or, if elections are called,   two political forces most likely to gain from
     has been little sign of strategy in the under-    provide strength in numbers ahead of the          elections (Yulia Tymoshenko’s BYUT bloc
     mining of the Yulia Tymoshenko government         coming campaign.                                  and the Party of Regions) not favouring pre-
     and it looks uncomfortably like there is no                                                         term elections while the political force most
     credible post-undermining strategy either.        Who wants new elections?                          likely to lose ground (Our Ukraine) osten-
     Nevertheless, in the horse-trading that is        Recent events have suggested a failure            sibly supporting them. Our Ukraine leader
     currently dominating behind-the-scenes            to learn the lessons of September 2005,           Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, undoubtedly with
     developments in Kyiv a number of second-          when the removal of the first Tymoshenko          Bankova’s prodding, last week laid down a
     tier political leaders led by rising star and     government sent the President’s ratings into      set of tough conditions for Our Ukraine to          :


                                kingmaker: Former
                                VR Speaker Arseniy
                                Yatsenyuk announced
                                last week that he
                                intends to create his
                                own political party.
                                Yatsenyuk’s popularity
                                with an electorate tired
                                of the same old faces
                                could prove crucial if
                                Ukraine is forced into
                                another round of snap
                                parliamentary elections

September 29-October 05, 2008                              21
     : re-join any coalition with BYUT, but there is         from the Orange coalition was only supported       Yushchenko’s name. Any national democratic
         little to suggest that they are in a position to    by a slim majority of 39 deputies, just two        parties seeking to support the bloc would be
         be issuing ultimatums.                              more than the bare minimum required. Five          tasked to merge with Our Ukraine, something
             The President’s ratings are currently a frac-   of the Our Ukraine/People’s Self-Defence           which they had promised to do prior to the
         tion of Mrs. Tymoshenko’s, while his political      bloc’s nine member parties did not support         2007 elections before baulking at losing
         party has only a sixth of the support of BYUT.      the decision, including the two largest            their party fiefdoms. Presumably the logic is
         In any new election Our Ukraine could actu-         – former Foreign Minister Borys Tarasiuk’s         that by adding Mr. Yushchenko’s name the
         ally find itself failing to make it past the 3%     Rukh and Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko’s        President’s 5% support would improve its
         threshold for entering a new parliament,            People’s Self Defence. Lutsenko headed the         election chances.
         with most pollsters giving the party 4%             entire bloc going into the 2007 pre-term elec-        As the Orange rivals play the percentages
         support, which is down from 14% in the 2007         tions. Rukh is currently negotiating to join       ahead of any coming vote, the role of former
         elections. One would think that Our Ukraine’s       BYUT to become its fourth party member.            parliamentary speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk
         2% share of the ballot in the May Kyiv city         Other defections may be imminent.                  could well be pivotal. Last week Mr. Yatse-
         hall elections and their consequent failure to                                                         nyuk announced his intention to create his
         enter the city council would have focused the       Lytvyn and the chances                             own political party, confirming speculation
         attention of Bankova. Obviously it has not.         of a new Orange coalition                          that he intends to take on a leadership role in
             Nor is support for the President within         A new coalition will be difficult to establish     any future coalition talks. As one of the few
         his dwindling political grouping a foregone         because none of the issues that undermined         relatively new faces in Ukrainian politics and
         conclusion. The withdrawal of Our Ukraine           the old coalition have been effectively dealt      at the still tender age of 34, Mr. Yatsenyuk is
                                                             with. Demands made by the Tymoshenko               widely regarded as the rising star of Ukrainian
                                                             bloc including the removal of Viktor Baloga        politics and his backing could prove invalu-
                                                             from his post as presidential chief of staff       able to the under-fire President. His decision
                                                             have gone unheard, while Our Ukraine offi-         to head up his own party is in keeping with
                                                             cials have responded with their list of require-   modern Ukrainian political tradition: the
                                                             ments. One potential solution would be the         position of parliamentary speaker has regu-
                                                             construction of a wider coalition to include       larly gone to the head of those who have held
                                                             the Volodymyr Lytvyn bloc. If Mr. Lytvyn’s         it, whether Ivan Pliushch, Oleksandr Moroz
                                                             eponymous political force joins BYUT and Our       or Volodymyr Lytvyn. In a mature democ-
                                                             Ukraine in a new, wider Orange coalition this      racy such as Britain it would be unthinkable
                Ukraine is left waiting                      would improve its cohesion by increasing the       for the parliamentary speaker to launch his
                                                             previous slim majority of 228 to a comfortable     political project, but in Ukraine it remains
                     for the President’s
                                                             majority of 248 deputies. The Lytvyn bloc did      standard practice.
                      decision to either
                                                             not support the July vote of no confidence,           Mr. Yatsenyuk is a Yushchenko loyalist
                   re-establish a larger                     but it also remained outside of coalition talks    and the President is thought to see him
                 Orange coalition with                       in late 2007 following the slim Orange victory     as a worthy successor. The main potential
                  BYUT and the Lytvyn                        in the September 2007 snap poll.                   sponsors and allies of the Yatsenyuk bloc
              bloc or, if he decides to                         Increasing the size of the coalition would      would likely come from the notorious “Dear
                 go for broke after the                      be to BYUT’s advantage but not to Bankova’s.       Friends,” as the business wing of Our Ukraine
                 thirty days allowed to                      The Lytvyn bloc’s additional 20 deputies           are mockingly referred to. These big busi-
             establish a new coalition                       would curtail the Presidential Secretariat’s       ness interests first entered politics in 2002
              expires in mid October,                        ability to blackmail BYUT by threatening           in the then newly created Our Ukraine party
                to disband parliament                        to withdraw the votes of the 10-15 United          which was at the time headed by Viktor Yush-
              and call fresh elections.                      Centre party supporters who are regarded as        chenko. These Dear Friends have not joined
                                                             most loyal to the President.                       Mr. Baloga’s United Centre party and are
                   Both scenarios offer
                                                                                                                looking for an alternative political vehicle. Mr.
                little comfort to Presi-
                                                             The scramble for allies                            Yatsenyuk’s relatively untarnished reputation
                      dent Yushchenko                        In the event of a decision by the President        and reformist credentials could fit the bill.
                                                             to disband parliament and call new elec-              The presence of former speaker Mr. Yatse-
                                                             tions, Mr. Yushchenko would be forced to           nyuk may also help win over another former
                                                             place his hopes in a motley array of untried       speaker with his own kingmaker potential.
                                                             political forces and awkward realignments.         Many of Mr. Yushchenko’s Dear Friends,
                                                             The President would likely reject the strategy     such as National Bank chairman Petro
                                                             pursued in the 2002, 2006 and 2007 elections       Poroshenko, have had long-term ties to Mr.
                                                             of establishing a bloc of pro-Yushchenko           Lytvyn. Channel 5’s airing of rumours that Mr.
                                                             parties. Instead, Our Ukraine, which is one of     Poroshenko was one of the financiers of the
                                                             the nine parties in the OU-PSD bloc, would         Lytvyn bloc in last year’s elections led to the
                                                             become the sole electoral vehicle bearing Mr.      dismissal of a Channel 5 journalist. Mean-

while, Mr. Yushchenko’s personal gratitude          Party of Regions would fit. Would they remain       if undertaken by Mr. Yushchenko and terrible

to Mr. Lytvyn is related to his role as parlia-     within the Party of Regions as a pro-Yush-          if undertaken by Mrs. Tymoshenko?
mentary speaker during the Orange Revolu-           chenko ‘fifth column’ or would they become
tion and in the round-table negotiations that       natural members of the Yatsenyuk bloc where         No sign of Orange armistice
brokered a repeat second round and paved            they would rub shoulders with the tradition-        President Yushchenko has so far refused to
the way for his presidency. The Yatsenuk and        ally anti-Tymoshenko Dear Friends?                  heed BYUT’s demand to remove Mr. Baloga
Lytvyn blocs would therefore be fairly logical         National Security and Defence secretary          because Mr. Yushchenko is convinced that
centrist allies.                                    Raisa Bohatyriova was expelled from the Party       only Mr. Baloga can ensure he wins a second
   Another figure with little experience on         of Regions on September 1 after she returned        term. He has ignored the 72% of Ukrainians
the national political stage is Kyiv Mayor          from a visit to the US, suggesting that there       who do not want him to stand in the 2010
Leonid Chernovetskiy, who could yet form a          are also stresses within the famously united        presidential election, while heeding the call
third pillar of pro-Yushchenko support. Any         party of the pro-Russian camp. Party of             of 16% of Ukrainians who say he should. As
Chernovetskiy bloc would aim to build on his        Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych was said to        the well-known Zerkalo Nedeli commentator
success in using his position in Kyiv to win        be personally offended by Mrs. Bohatyriova’s        Serhiy Rakhmanin wrote last week: ‘Yush-
sufficient votes to enter parliament. Ukraine’s     response to a question posed by myself at           chenko, regardless of everything, does not
precedent for this is found in the 1998 elec-       a Washington luncheon as to whether she             believe in polls. Otherwise he would not be
tions when dissident oligarch Pavlo Lazarenko       supported Mr. Yushchenko’s or Mr. Yanu-             prepared to take part in the election campaign
ensured his new political project Hromada           kovych’s stances on Georgia. Mrs. Bohatyriova       for a second term. Yushchenko believes in
crossed into parliament after winning the           gave her strong support to Mr. Yushchenko’s         his mission. He believes in administrative
majority of its 4.68% votes in its home base        position on Georgian territorial integrity and      resources. And he believes in Baloga.”
of Dnipropetrovsk. A big vote in Kyiv could         ridiculed Mr. Yanukovych’s support for Geor-           Mr. Yushchenko has made it abundantly
also push Mr. Chernovetskiy into parliament         gian separatism. The failed Party of Regions        clear that he believes a Tymoshenko presi-
with a small but strategically important band       parliamentary draft in support of South Osse-       dency would be a disaster for Ukraine and
of deputies.                                        tian and Abkhaz independence was conspicu-          that she should be therefore stopped in her
   Assuming that a reconstituted Our Ukraine        ously not supported by 35 Party of Regions          tracks at all costs. The August treason charges,
together with United Centre and the Yatse-          deputies (the Crimean parliament, where the         accusations of her involvement in a bizarre
nyuk, Lytvyn and Chernovetskiy blocs could          Party of Regions controls 50% of seats, was         assassination plot against Mr. Baloga and
each obtain 3-4% in a new election, this would      more successful in adopting a resolution).          investigations attempting to link her to Mr.
give Mr. Yushchenko between 60-80 deputies             The pragmatic wing and the energy lobby          Yushchenko’s poisoning all have their origins
in parliament. Even this meagre return would        within the Party of Regions do not support a        in Bankova’s aim to destroy her so that she
rely on a gamble that all these four political      coalition with BYUT and have long backed a          either chooses not to stand in the elections or
projects passed the 3% threshold. Even              grand coalition with Our Ukraine. The Presi-        is unable to do so.
assuming all four blocs did enter parliament        dential Secretariat’s problem is that its entire
this would still only give the President control    anti-Tymoshenko campaign since late August          A difficult choice
of a sixth of deputies.                             has rested on attacking Mrs. Tymoshenko for         for the President
   In pre-term elections there would be always      allegedly contemplating forming a coalition         Ukraine is left waiting for the President’s
the danger that BYUT would again increase its       with the Party of Regions which President           decision to either re-establish a larger Orange
faction. This is a genuine threat, given that       Yushchenko and Mr. Kyrylenko have dubbed a          coalition with BYUT and the Lytvyn bloc or, if
BYUT remains the only political force to have       “pro-Kremlin coalition.” Mr. Kyrylenko, mean-       he decides to go for broke after the thirty days
accomplished this feat in every election held       while, has commented that his party could           allowed to establish a new coalition expires in
since 2002. Pre-term elections could also lead      not form a coalition with the Party of Regions,     mid October, to disband parliament and call
to an outcome whereby the Party of Regions          “because of deep differences over our world         fresh elections. The collapse of the coalition
increased its vote giving it enough deputies,       views.” This is fanciful and flies in the face of   was the inevitable outcome of eight months
together with the Communists and Lytvyn             President’s Yushchenko’s previous support for       of undermining the government which
bloc, to create a second Anti-Crisis coalition.     a broad coalition.                                  climaxed in August with attempts to destroy
Currently these three political forces fall just       When acting Prime Minister and Our Ukraine       Mrs. Tymoshenko’s political credibility.
short of a slim majority with 222 deputies.         leader Yuriy Yekhanurov was instructed by              Both scenarios offer little comfort to Presi-
                                                    the President to negotiate a grand coalition        dent Yushchenko. Either a new and larger
Coming to terms with                                with the Party of Regions following the 2006        Orange coalition will be created, leaving the
the Party of Regions                                elections and when the President instructed         PM position in the hands of BYUT, or pre-
Even with the appearance of new political           Our Ukraine to join the Anti-Crisis coalition       term elections are held that at best would
forces such as the Yatsenyuk and Cherniv-           in August 2006 this was defined by Bankova          only give Mr. Yushchenko a similar number of
etskiy blocs together with guaranteed support       as a positive step towards national unity.          deputies to his current total. At worst, a new
from the remaining Our Ukraine loyalists,           Before BYUT and the Party of Regions have           election could leave the President without
there remain many question marks over the           even formally established a coalition it is         any support whatsoever in parliament if his
benefits of this strategy. The first is the ques-   dubbed as treasonous and pro-Kremlin. Why           various allies and loyalists fail to make it past
tion of where the so-called pragmatists in the      is coalition with the Party of Regions positive     the 3% mark. l

September 29-October 05, 2008

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