“The match is over – the results are on the scoreboard,” said Ihor Kolomoyskyi in an interview with bihus.info commenting on Volodymyr Zelensky’s convincing victory in the presidential election. However, it is only fairy tales that have happy-ending, as for political sport – to keep the victory requires everyday work and maximum concentration. According to the sports terminology, the newly elected president successfully passed the group stage, so now he has the play-off, a game of musical chairs. The next match is a parliamentary campaign. In what format will it take place, how will Mr. Zelensky’s relations with the current composition of the Verkhovna Rada and the Cabinet of ministers be formed?
Pass from Kolomoyskyi
Mr. Kolomoyskyi said in no uncertain terms that the victory of Volodymyr Zelensky was not without his and Arsen Avakov’s (Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine) assistance. A remarkable revelation, which few had doubted before the start of an active electoral campaign. Such frankness makes us listen to other influential massages by Mr. Ihor. Let’s say, the one about the possible dissolution of the parliament and the extraordinary elections to the Verkhovna Rada. Here Ihor Kolomoyskyi is shuffling the cards. So, unlike representatives of Zelensky’s team that made statements on the need for such a step because of the lack of a coalition, he does not consider it necessary.
“I don’t care,” he told reporters in the interview. And to clarify, his mood, he added: “100%. The only question is: why to dissolve the parliament, for what purpose? If we look at it from a political point of view, this is quite understandable to me. If to expect that what they choose will be better than what we have today, then I have doubts. Because if it (parliament – ED.) will be dissolved, the elections will 100% take place according to the available system. That is, there will be a half elected according to the majoritarian system.”
According to Mr. Kolomoyskyi, if the new president dissolves the parliament, he will automatically keep a mixed electoral system – he won’t have time to change it. In this case, there will be a short election campaign, and there will be no time to prepare the required majority of majoritarian candidates from the newly elected head of state or his party Sluha Narodu (Servant of the people). If, however, the elections are not properly prepared, then anyone who wants will go to the Verkhovna Rada.
Zelensky is out of danger for now
Well, does Volodymyr Zelensky himself consider it necessary to dissolve the Verkhovna Rada? Before the official announcement of the results of the election, he stated that the CEC was delaying their promulgation so that he could not do so. And after the meeting with the leadership of the Verkhovna Rada and chairmen of the factions, he said that he would give his answer only after receiving presidential powers. Last but not least, it will depend on the date of the inauguration. If it occurs after May 28, then the newly elected president will have no legal grounds for early dissolution – according to Art. 90 of the Constitution of Ukraine, he may do so no later than six months before the scheduled parliamentary elections.
At the meeting, Zelensky insisted on May 19th as the date of the inauguration, because “it is time to work”. However, the parties haven’t reached the consensus. This question, most likely, will be considered by the parliament during the first plenary session, on May 14. Mr. Zelensky also emphasized the necessity of the inauguration on May 19 in a letter to the Verkhovna Rada Chairman Andriy Parubiy, who had earlier stated that he would not allow the early dissolution of the parliament. By the way, the head of the Central Election Commission, Tetyana Slipachuk, assured that if the early parliamentary elections are announced, the Commission is ready to hold them.
Adviser on general political issues of Zelensky team Dmytro Razumkov gave his comment to Opinion on the issue of a possible dissolution of Parliament. According to him, Ihor Kolomoyskyi expressed his personal opinion, besides, he’s not a part of their team. As for Volodymyr Zelensky, he voiced his position: the issue will be raised only after he takes up presidential post.
“This is absolutely correlated with what we talked about earlier,” Mr. Razumkov is convinced. “Are there such preconditions? Apparently, they exist because of the lack of a coalition in parliament. Moreover, when I spoke about this, the question was that in the law on the president, in fact, norms that lead to usurpation of power and limitation of the powers of the president in an unconstitutional way were prescribed. Today, it is incorrect to discuss this, since the president has not yet entered into his institutional rights and responsibilities. Everything will happen within the framework of the current legislation and we hope that the Verkhovna Rada will not violate the Constitution of Ukraine.
May 19 is the Memorial Day for victims of political repressions. There will be traditional mourning in the country. According to the head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, Volodymyr Viatrovych, this date is extremely unsuccessful for the president’s inauguration.
To complete the reforms
“The dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada can’t be the question posed only to the winner of the presidential election, it is a matter of a compromise between the newly elected president and factions,” said Oleksii Koshelev, Director General of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine. “The Verkhovna Rada determines the date of the inauguration, and this directly influences the possibility of holding early parliamentary elections. The parliament of this convocation has serious opportunities to continue its work, to complete several key reforms, including electoral and decentralization. In the event of extraordinary elections, the chances of their completion can be called into question. ”
The dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada in effect depends on the interests of the groups behind Volodymyr Zelensky because he can hardly be regarded as an independent politician, says political expert Olesya Yakhno. Zelensky did not even refute Ihor Kolomoyskyi’s statement that it was Kolomoyskyi and Avakov who made him president.
“As for the extraordinary elections, it seems that groups of Kolomoyskyi and Avakov are not interested in them,” explained Ms. Yakhno to Opinion. “The same Avakov holds an office, has influence and doesn’t need a new reboot, in the result of which it is unknown what the composition of the Cabinet will be. And it is unknown whether he will get any post.”
Ms. Yakhno gives her forecast that in the case of regular elections (October 27th) Kolomoyskyi and Avakov can create several new projects or use the old ones, like Ukrop, which will form a coalition with Zelensky’s party. On the basis of the People’s Front, there can be 2-3 projects, in particular, ones involving Arsen Avakov, Anton Herashchenko, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Another group may be associated with ex-regionals, for example, Andrii Portnov. Well, these ones may be interested in early elections.
“The discussion of possible extraordinary elections is beneficial for Zelensky’s team, whose party Sluha Narodu can get quite good results, as well as the Opposition Platform – For Life, which showed good results during the presidential election, and partly for Petro Poroshenko Block,” assured Oleksii Koshel. The situation when the parliament of this convocation continues to work would be optimal now. This is the first. The second is the adoption of realistic amendments to the Law “On Elections of People’s Deputies of Ukraine”. For example, the two-round majority system may return us to the one-hundred percent proportional system with closed lists. In June it is also important for Volodymyr Zelensky to address the extraordinary message of the president to the Verkhovna Rada on the principles of foreign and domestic policy.”
Cooperation is possible
If the dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada does not happen and in the summer the country will not plunge into the extraordinary parliamentary elections, then Volodymyr Zelensky will have to work almost half a year with its current composition. Will they be able to find common ground? Will the new president lose his high rating? After all, the things that he promised, the ones his electorate expects him to fulfill, are unlikely to be realized in the first months. Olesya Yakhno is convinced that relations between the newly elected president and the Verkhovna Rada will be situational in view of the forthcoming parliamentary campaign and the interests of each political force. The head of the state’s rating will suffer unequivocally.
“However, it’s not a situation that will affect the rating of Zelensky in the first place. When he was running for the presidency, he realized that there are acting Parliament, Cabinet of ministers, and you should cooperate with them or start extraordinary elections,” continued Ms. Yakhno. “Well, ‘I won the presidency, so I have to announce early parliamentary elections’ is not the reason. This is not at the level of the law, but political expediency, in the interests of a particular group. The pledges made by him and the formed image that a priori can’t be realized will bring more negative to Zelensky. There have already been statements by his team that the fight against corruption and tariffs are not the responsibility of the president.”
“Volodymyr Zelensky’s rating will fall, but insignificantly, provided that Zelensky’s team technologically shifts the blame for the inaction of the authorities to the Verkhovna Rada and the government that fully depends on the parliament,” said Oleksandr Kochetkov, a political analyst. “It should be borne in mind that no president has a magic wand and he won’t fulfill all expectations the next day after the inauguration. The rating will fall in any case, so the president and his team should think not about ratings, but the country.”
Zelensky also discussed the issues in relations with the Verkhovna Rada, the foreign and domestic policy with the heads of parliamentary factions. The newly-elected president will have to find a common language with representatives of the executive branch. A few days after the run-off, Volodymyr Zelensky met with the acting prime minister Volodymyr Groysman. Even though it was informal communication, obviously, the search for points of contact with the government is going on.
“Some interaction may take place,” said Mr. Kochetkov. “We saw the desire of the prime minister to lower tariffs, which was part of Zelensky’s electoral rhetoric, although the head of Naftogaz Andrii Kobolev disagreed with it. The government has ministers, whom Groysman wanted to get rid of, for example, Volodymyr Omelyan. And the prime minister will take advantage of the president’s change in his favor. Cooperation is possible exactly in this vein because the government can influence deputies and pass bills through the Parliament that are vital for the president. ”
People’s Deputies’ Views
People’s deputies commented on the possible dissolution by the newly elected President of the Verkhovna Rada of the 8th convocation and its consequences.
“Victory Day, and then June – proms and vacations. It makes no sense to make elections in July. If the inauguration takes place after May 28, then nobody will dissolve anyone, because there will be no legal possibility. It would be possible to find political consensus between Petro Poroshenko and Volodymyr Zelensky, which is based on the early termination of parliament’s powers in order to hold elections in July. In my opinion, Poroshenko should have been interested in this, but he did not start the dialogue. In his place, I would use the slightest possibility to terminate the powers of this Parliament beforehand. As for Zelensky, on the contrary, in the absence of a party, ideology, and people he will benefit from elections in the fall and on the system based on party lists. Most likely, it will happen this way. The parliament of this convocation will be forced to vote precisely for such an electoral system.”
“I understand the efforts of the newly elected president to seek the re-election of the Verkhovna Rada, as this may lead to the formation of a majority that will be interested in supporting this particular president. However, for successful re-election of Verkhovna Rada, it is precisely for this purpose that many other mechanisms must be used, including the observance of terms, the presence of support both inside of the current parliamentary structure and in society as a whole. I remember my own feelings and preconditions in 2014. After all, it was completely another thing. Therefore, the probability of early elections exists, but it’s not unambiguous.”
“The newly elected, but not yet the president (because he did not take an oath) Zelensky, will be in a very uncomfortable position – in the stalemate. On the one hand, it’s bad to dissolve – his actual electoral support is no more than 25% (on average, the result of the first round, all the others were against Poroshenko), but it will deteriorate. Too big expectations of the people mean that disappointment will be even greater. On the other hand, it’s bad not to dissolve too – the more time passes, the stronger opponents. And they will be young representatives of the political elite, most of the ‘old ones’ will vanish. Therefore, of course, there will be attempts to divert the population from dissatisfaction with stovepiping – the flag, anthem, the question of who fights whom, and so on, but it won’t last for long. So, it won’t be possible to fool people with empty words, plus the declared movement towards Moscow will progress, which will cause mass protests for impeachment. Nevertheless, I hope, all that was written above will not come true. One way or another, the times of great changes are ahead.”
By Viktor Tsvilikhovsky