Thursday, 19 September

Inauguration and dissolution of the Parliament – it seems that after the announcement of the presidential election results, these words ceased to exist separately from each other. Opinion made an attempt to figure out when the inauguration of Zelensky should take place, whether there really is a possibility of the dissolution of the Parliament, and what risks and benefits, in this case, should be expected.

When should the inauguration take place?

Oleksii Buriachenko, a political expert and the chairman of the board of the Regional Expert Legal Association of Influence, is convinced that Zelensky’s inauguration will for sure take place before June 3: this is a fact and the requirement of the law. But as to other questions, according to the expert, we can only predict, as it is necessary to understand the political component of the date for Volodymyr Zelensky himself.

“Scenario A – if the inauguration will take place until May 27, it will allow to dissolve the Verkhovna Rada and start the early election. Though legally it is possible to find the bases for the dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada after May 27 as well, as the chairman of the district administrative court of Kyiv Mr. Vovk hinted in his comment on this question.

Scenario B – not to dissolve the operating Verkhovna Rada and to get ready for the scheduled parliamentary elections in October. And this option is also absolutely acceptable for Zelensky, since it solves several important issues: 1) the real formation of the team (party) with which he will take part in the elections and 2) getting some time to stabilize the processes after the inauguration and to produce the strategic plan of the state development for the next five years.”

However, Dmytro Sinchenko, the head of the public organization Association of Political Sciences, is convinced that from a legal point of view, the inauguration cannot take place earlier than June 7, because that’s when the term of the current president expires. Although, the political aspect of the issue should also be considered.

“The powers of the President, according to the Constitution, should last at least 5 years.  The inauguration of the current President – Petro Poroshenko – took place on June 7, 2014. It is from this date that his five-year cadence should be counted, therefore, the acquisition of the powers of his successor cannot take place before this date, otherwise, it can be regarded as an unconstitutional coup d’état.

From a political point of view, everything depends on the behavior of the main players. It is obvious that after Zelensky has publicly declared the desire to dissolve the Verkhovna Rada and to hold the early elections, he lost all the chances of a quick inauguration.”

A journalist and a political columnist Oleksandr Hunko believes that the inauguration will take place on May 28, as most people’s deputies will try to nullify even the slightest chance of the dissolution of the Parliament.

“First of all, many of them understand that they have little chance to be elected again. For example, the People’s Front is already “the first non-passing”. Self-Reliance is bursting at the seams. Majoritarians do not know what the new election law will be. There is a high probability that the majority will disappear. Therefore, they will have to seek political refuge. Therefore, they want to serve this term until the end in the hope that the political situation will become more favorable for them in six months.”

Maryna Bahrova, a member of the board of the international union Institute of National Policy, suggests that the inauguration will take place before May 28, but explains: it all depends on a clear answer of Zelensky – whether he is going to dissolve parliaments or not.

“All the parliamentary forces that won the elections in 2014, have serious problems today and some of them are no longer able to overcome the 5 percent barrier.  Hence, the main reason for delaying the inauguration date is the fear of the deputies. This reason is exacerbated by the fact that the leaders of the factions want to get an answer to the question from Zelensky: will he resort to the dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada if his inauguration is before May 27?”

Why Zelensky and the parliamentarians cannot come to an agreement?

Dmytro Sinchenko believes that no agreement will be reached because the winner of the presidential elections and the people’s deputies themselves have completely opposite interests.

“The political forces represented in the Rada are interested in discrediting the newly elected winner of the elections as soon as possible, thereby knocking down the rating of his new party, and Zelensky is interested in blaming the “old system” and the acting politicians for his own failures. Politicians want Zelensky to start acting and screw up, and Zelensky wants to take no action for as long as possible, except for his usual video messages.”

Oleksii Buriachenko, in contrast, assured that the basic instinct of any power is an instinct of self-preservation, and the decisions depend on it.

“Here the people’s deputies have a dilemma – to survive for another half a year in the status of people’s deputies and to be the objects of constant criticism from the newly elected president (plus the media), or to agree to lay down the mandate for certain benefits? These questions are mainly directed at the majoritarian deputies and those ones that are not likely to be elected into the new Verkhovna Rada.

Given that the current coalition actually consists of two factions (BPP and People’s Front) plus “majoritarians”, there is the only logical question – who will come to an agreement with People’s Front and on which conditions, realizing that there are several groups of influence in People’s Front itself.”

Oleksandr Okhrimenko, president of the Ukrainian Analytical Center, believes that the reason for the discussions on the issue of the inauguration is the identity of the winner of the elections.

“The Verkhovna Rada hoped more that the new President will be either Tymoshenko or Poroshenko. Zelensky was not expected by anyone and now he has to prove that he is the President. The problem of Zelensky is that he has no team and therefore even no one to negotiate reasonably. As a result, the VR deputies are trying to impose their own rules of the game on Zelensky. For now, he is losing.”

The political expert Ihor Rudenko is convinced that the disputes about the date are associated with the lack of support of Zelensky among the parliamentarians and the likelihood of an actual dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada.

“The date is not agreed because the newly elected President of Ukraine has no faction and no supporters in the parliament. In addition, the media has repeatedly expressed the opinion that Zelensky’s team is considering the possibility of dissolving the Parliament. Therefore, some parliamentarians decided to “be on the safe side” and appoint the inauguration for later, when, according to the Constitution of Ukraine, the President of Ukraine has no right to terminate the powers of Parliament ahead of schedule.”

Is there a probability of the dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada?

Dmytro Sinchenko explained Opinion that the dissolution of the Parliament is not really in anyone’s interest: neither the acting members nor Zelensky himself, therefore it is practically an unrealistic scenario.

“Everything is clear with the deputies – they need to prepare better for the upcoming parliamentary elections, deploy headquarters, develop the electoral strategies and begin to implement them. Zelensky is interested in getting the “Mace” and starting to make particular steps as late as possible. It is much more convenient for him to act from the position of the offended – he will be able to keep his rating for a longer time, which will affect his political strength. And his statements with the demands to the Parliament to hold the inauguration on a particular date – it is merely a grandstanding.

If he really had an intention to dissolve the Verkhovna Rada – he wouldn’t declare it publicly. To implement such a scenario, it is necessary to find support in the Parliament, to make a deal with each deputy behind the scenes, to collect the necessary number of votes, to hold a vote and to push the necessary date. Today, we see his grandstanding, which means that if the behind-the-scenes game did take place, it was unsuccessful.”

However, Ihor Rudenko believes that the dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada is quite a possible scenario.

“There is a possibility of the dissolution of the Parliament. And it can be initiated if the Parliament refuses to accept the key appointments (on the proposal of the President) and draft laws submitted by the President as priorities. Due to the fact that there is no de facto majority in the Parliament, the President has the right to dissolve the Parliament.”

Oleksandr Okhrimenko emphasized in his turn that the issue of the dissolution of the Parliament doesn’t depend on the chosen inauguration date in any way, but rather it is quite probable that Zelensky doesn’t plan to resort to such steps.

“Formally, Zelensky can dissolve the Verkhovna Rada until June 14. And before that date, he will definitely become a President. Therefore, the Rada cannot be protected from the dissolution by moving the inauguration date. But perhaps Zelensky himself does not want the dissolution of the Rada. For him, early elections are not profitable. He, in contrast to Tymoshenko, Poroshenko, and Boiko, does not have an operating party. In fact, he has nothing ready for the elections. There is no party structure which will agitate and control the elections, there are not enough people who can be candidates for deputies. He has nothing but talks that his non-existent party has a 30% rating.”

Natalia Belitser, an expert of Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy, drew attention to the issue of the electoral legislation in the case of the theoretical dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada.

“I believe that if the inauguration of the newly elected president takes place before May 28, the electoral law is an important aspect of the possible dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada. It is clear that in this case the elections of the new parliament will be held in accordance with the current law, while the changes have long been sought by some deputies, the vast majority of independent experts and active civil society. The opponents of the new election legislation, which provides, among other things, the transition to a purely proportional system with open lists, will be majoritarians, for whom it will be extremely disadvantageous, as well as their local ‘patrons’ with their proven schemes of electing ‘their people’ to  the Verkhovna Rada.”

By Dmytro Zhuravel

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