Tomorrow, on August 29, on the 102nd day of Volodymyr Zelensky’s presidency, a solemn meeting of the Verkhovna Rada of the ninth convocation will be held. The new parliamentary reality will be dictated by the “servants of the people”, therefore, they take responsibility for what is happening in the country. And bonuses generously distributed by a significant part of the Ukrainian society to the beginners in power will gradually cease to operate. Soon more and more voters will be interested in real results.
All at once?
Long before the first meeting of the Verkhovna Rada, there was if not outright indignation, then dissatisfaction with the representatives of the Servant of the People party (SP). “Give them everything!” was the leitmotif of the reaction to the elections winners’ encroachment, who don’t even need to deploy the coalition within one month provided by the law. 254 votes, including the ones of majority deputies, give the pro-government force virtually unlimited opportunities, which it will try to make the most of.
The “servants” started with grabbing the best seats in the session hall, to make it harder for the opposition to block the rostrum, and with the formation of committees of the Verkhovna Rada, reducing their number from 27 to 23. The Minister of Veterans Affairs, a people’s deputy candidate from the European Solidarity party (ES) Iryna Friz called the actions of the SP members on the ultimate distribution of the committees between deputies and ensuring a majority in all the committees for the ruling party “a symptom of the power grab”. According to her, “servants” want to distribute deputies from other factions among committees on their own discretion.
There is enough criticism about reducing the number of deputies in the super-important committees. Thus, the committees on the integration of Ukraine with the EU, as well as on freedom of speech will include only 7 people each. But the committees on budget, finance, tax and customs policy and some others will include 31 people’s deputies each. As noted by the vice-speaker of the eighth convocation of the Verkhovna Rada, a people’s deputy candidate from the party ES Iryna Gerashchenko, when the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs was liquidated, SP promised to create the joint Committee of Social Policy and the Protection of Veterans’ Rights, but it consists of only 10 parliamentarians.
A people’s deputy candidate from the party SP Halyna Tretiakova was nominated for the position of the chairman of the Committee on Social Policy. Ms Halyna told Opinion that the work is already in full swing, the working day is abnormal. Her colleagues are set to reject the second reading of the “Labor Code” (LC) and quickly began to create another one. The adoption of the modern flexible LC can give an increase in GDP by 1-1.5%.
“Before the new year we need to create components of the second additional pension for the Ukrainians,” Ms Tretiakova said. “One of the first bills that we will support is the control over private financial institutions that will be components of the additional second-level pension provision. Thus, we plan to make the second level guaranteed and controlled, so that fraudsters do not use the money of the Ukrainians. We will also begin to change the social insurance system, which will relieve the single social contribution. These are powerful things that will change our view of social policy radically. They are part of the economic breakthrough that we want to make in Ukraine. We must grow rapidly.”
Is SP monolithic?
Obviously, the word “euphoria” describes the atmosphere hovering in the SP party headquarters best. This is noticeable in the media, on social networks and in private communication with its members. The parliament will be renewed by more than three quarters, and the majority of newcomers are the representatives of Zelensky’s party. They, especially young people, are not afraid of the lack of political and state experience, or lack of relevant knowledge and education.
“We will get a qualitatively new parliament, I think it will be effective,” Oleksii Ustenko, an MP candidate from the party SP told Opinion. “We are determined to work very fruitfully not only in the first days but also throughout the cadence because we need to change a lot of things. The guys are cool, friendly, all experienced in their fields, and we are united in the fact that it is necessary to reform the country. We want to reach a normal economy in 5 years so that the level of happiness is at least like in the Arab Emirates. So that no one has to leave, because many young people, including me, face the problem of unemployment and insecurity.”
Mr Ustenko assured that they have no pressure groups and undercover games are not being conducted. Experts point to the opposite – there are groups of Kolomoisky, Avakov, Quarter 95 and the like in SP. This gives the reason to doubt that the largest faction in the history of our parliamentarism will have a close unity and will not crumble over time.
“It is difficult to predict how monolithic it will be, there are people of too different ideologies and positions,” an MP candidate from the party ES Sofiia Fedyna told. “But I am sure – the party leadership will do everything possible to have unanimity because they want to build a total vertical of power, and they need a single unbreakable faction for this.”
Halyna Tretiakova does not agree with the idea that SP is not a monolithic structure, “We have the chairman of the faction, 15 deputies, we developed an almost military structure, which has captains and foremen, and we believe that this structure should be controlled. This does not exclude the fact that the parliament will be a place for discussion and that our party members will have different points of view on some issues. We have plans for legislative work and votes, and we will pass 300 bills. We made sure there is no legislative spam when deputies propose changes not essential for economic development. And this work is the basis of our monolithism.”
Not only the SP members hope for the positive work of the new parliament. An MP candidate from the party Batkivshchyna Olha Bielkova told Opinion that the new parliament will be dynamic because the monomajority is formed:
“They have a drive and fervour. I can see from the mood of many newly elected colleagues that those people are serious about dynamic work. I hope that the traditionally difficult issues for the parliament will be settled in the first few days: the election of the praesidium and the committees’ chairmen and their deputies. This will set the tone for the work in a certain way. I expect hot debates even within the discussion. And a coalition of like-minded people in a particular issue can change situationally. I will work in the parliament for the third time, and each next parliament is developing towards improvement. This is despite the fact that in 2012 there was also a majority, and that parliament ceased to exist prematurely because of the events on the Maidan.”
On the first day of the work, the Verkhovna Rada will consider “60-70 fundamental bills”, in particular, regarding the amendments to the Constitution, the reduction of the number of people’s deputies by one third – to 300, the announcement of the formation of the majority, the prime minister candidate is likely to be put on the vote and all committees will likely to be launched.
Who is in opposition?
The newly elected people’s deputies are reluctant to talk about the heads of the new Verkhovna Rada. They say we should wait for their first session. But they don’t rule out the possibility that Dmytro Razumkov will be the speaker. The first vice-speaker will also be from SP, presumably, Ruslan Stefanchuk. But can he work as a representative of the president in the Verkhovna Rada? The position of the vice-speaker is traditionally reserved for the opposition. Previously it was Viktor Medvedchuk’s, but Vadym Rabinovych explained that the “Opposition Platform – For Life” (OPFL) will not nominate him. The Voice and ES also refused to nominate their candidates for this position. By the way, if the monolithism of the faction SP is questionable, the non-monolithism of the opposition factions is visible to the naked eye. It is hard to believe that patriotic and pro-European forces will find a common language with the pro-Russian ones.
“There will be 2-3 oppositions,” Olesia Yakhno, a political expert, told Opinion. “One – “OPFL” which is perceived as the opposition not so much to the government as to the state. The second is Petro Poroshenko’s ES and, I think, the Voice. The Yuliia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna, which is the opposition in tariff issues, social things. To say who will be the real opposition, it is necessary to understand what the position of the party in power, SP, is. And it will become clear pretty quickly. Their first indicative step will be the appointments to the executive branch, which will reveal their priorities. The second is the budget, what they will focus on. The third is foreign policy.”
Oleksii Ustenko assured that SP most likely won’t cooperate with the pro-Russian forces aimed at the division of Ukraine, and with those that have the desire to act for the detriment of the state and to care about their own pockets. One’s own pocket is the Achilles heel of many Ukrainian politicians. So, will the newly elected people’s deputies be tempted by the attractive offers of the oligarchs?
“We can already state that that the influence of the oligarchs will decrease,” Halyna Tretiakova convinced. “We recommend the civil society and the media to monitor and signal some unacceptable phenomena timely. What about efficiency? This also should be stated by you – the media and the civil society. Eventually, there will be an electoral process, and people will be defined. Moreover, next year local elections will be held, and we will be able to see their reaction to the reforms.”
“The effectiveness of the work will depend not so much on the Verkhovna Rada because it is unlikely to initiate progressive initiatives and bills, but on the government,” Olesia Yakhno noted. “And not only on the prime minister but also on the person who will be responsible for the key areas. Progressive bills will be initiated not so much in the Verkhovna Rada, as outside it, and the parliament will automatically support certain initiatives. If there is a team that is associated with the people who want to continue reforms – it is one thing, but it is another question if there is a team that is associated with oligarchs. If people without experience came to politics, it does not mean it will be a qualitatively new parliament.”
Sofiia Fedyna will be ready to answer the question of the influence of the oligarchs on the people’s deputies of the ninth convocation when she is already working in parliament and sees the trends and the whole situation. However, she does not have high hopes for improvement: “the main thing that will happen is the redistribution of cash flows and attempts to enrich themselves on this, in particular, by the people who came to power. I think the influence of individual groups will increase. Since there is no ideological component, the only context that keeps these people together is to get to the money.”
Famous Ukrainians answered the question to Opinion: “Will Ukraine have a qualitatively different parliament? What should we expect from the newly elected people’s deputies?”
Liudmyla Gorgeladze, a member of the Council on State Support to Cinematography:
“I’m an optimist. I think the new people in the parliament are new energy of change. “Our hearts require changes”, Viktor Tsoy sang 30 years ago. It’s the same now. And we’ll see whether young “non-politicians” will be able to become politicians leading the country to prosperity. I am convinced that they will not destroy it. After all, Ukraine and our people have already passed the point of no return to the Soviet past and dictatorship. Deputies have to work. But we also have to work hard – only work drives change for the better. Stop talking, start working. And most importantly – we will have new jobs.”
Roman Tsymbaliuk, the chief correspondent of UNIAN in Moscow:
“The new Rada is doomed to disappoint voters. This is the law of Ukrainian politics. Expectations of society are too high. On the other hand, for the first time in history, we will have monocoalition, this means that SP has every opportunity for real reforms. It is a matter of political will and responsibility. The newly elected deputies need to understand that they can’t “sit on the fence”.
Inna Silantieva, a socio-political expert:
“If there are professionals in the team and the headquarters are properly selected, then, of course, they will work qualitatively and for the benefit of the people. The people have given them a great credit of trust, and they will try to justify this trust. I am the wife of the people’s deputy of the eighth convocation (Denys Silantiev – ed.), and the previous composition of the people’s deputies was also diverse but productive. For example, for 27 years of independence, the budget of 200 million UAH for the construction of the basic infrastructure was achieved for the first time. I hope this parliament will also work productively. I only hope for good and wait for the change.”
Anton Sanchenko, a maritime writer:
“Nothing good can be expected from the one-party majority. It’s been 70 years.”
Text by Viktor Tsvilikhovsky