Friday, February 26, 2010

Ukraine: Can Yanukovych Force Tymoshenko Out?

By Tammy Lynch

On 25 February, Viktor Yanukovych stood in Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, took an oath, and assumed the office of the presidency.

It was a quiet affair.

This was in marked contrast to the festival-like atmosphere of Viktor Yushchenko’s extended, day-long inauguration in January of 2005.

But then…the presidential election of 2010 was a much quieter affair overall, forged more by disillusionment and disappointment than by hope.

Regardless, the real fireworks may be coming over the next several months, as President Yanukovych attempts to consolidate control. Since Yanukovych won only 48% of the vote and beat Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko by just 3.5%, that task will not be easy.

As noted in Tuesday’s blog, the President and Prime Minister share almost equal constitutional powers, although the president’s decree power and control of the security services may give him an edge. In order to implement his policy objectives, Yanukovych will need to either strike a deal with Tymoshenko or force her removal and replacement by parliament.

Yanukovych’s Party has already introduced a motion for a vote of no-confidence in the government, which would force a resignation.

However, in reality, it’s much more complicated. Not only would parliament need to remove Tymoshenko and her cabinet, but they would need to nominate and confirm a new PM. The simple majority required for a no-confidence vote may exist, but the configuration for a new parliamentary majority, which approves the PM, may not.

This is because, according to Article 83 of Ukraine’s constitution, a parliamentary majority is formed only by “a coalition of parliamentary factions.”

In the past, formation of the “coalition of parliamentary factions” has meant parties or blocs joining together with the approval of the majority of each of their members. The full memberships of all of these blocs are then added together to form the parliamentary majority.

The current majority consists of The Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko, the Bloc of Our Ukraine and the Bloc of Volodymyr Lytvyn, for a total of 245 members.

Should the current majority cease to exist, Yanukovych would need to form a new majority. As noted above in the constitution, affiliated individual members cannot be included in majority coalitions – only blocs or parties. Yanukovych’s 172 seats, in addition to likely coalition partner the Communist Party (27 seats) and Lytvyn (20 seats) are not enough to provide the required 226 seats. The other blocs in parliament are BYuT and Our Ukraine. It appears currently that these blocs will not enter any coalition with Yanukovych, meaning the new President only would control a minority 199 seats and be unable to nominate a PM (the sole purview of the majority).

Should no new majority be formed within 30 days, Article 90 of the constitution allows the president to terminate parliament’s authority, which would trigger new parliamentary elections.

But there is every reason to believe that most members of parliament do not want new elections. The new configuration may result in a drop of support or total elimination of both Lytvyn’s Bloc and Our Ukraine. These forces would likely be replaced by new Serhiy Tihipko and Arseniy Yatsenyuk blocs.

This could mean there is little choice for Yanukovych but to put up with Tymoshenko for now – unless he’s able to provide enough incentives for Our Ukraine to switch allegiances. At the moment that seems unlikely, but in Ukraine, nothing is impossible.


  1. Ukrainians are now more realists cutting down to their own somber reality that partying-it-up a la CIA funded PR-firm managed celebration of Yushenko’s last victory. Of course, like Russians pre-Putin, Ukrainians now know what US dominated politics is like in post-Cold War Era. It's back to the corporate predation that East Europe knew in the inter World War era when ESSO dominated all their economies. Through the Cold War America was indeed the great anti-imperialist fighting for national freedom and independence, selectively that is. But since 1989 its predatory corporations vampirically struck at the ex-Soviet Empire. The EU demonstrated that a strong Europe rather than a NATO flunky of the US is how to be good friends with America. It's time for East Europe to learn the value of achieving West European standards so its youth may know a better future than we did under Soviet and then American exploitation. Tymoshenko proved the uselessness of political prostitution in her Russo-American approaches. It is now up to Yanukovych to show how Ukraine can be truly neutral, balancing the American and Russian wolves while developing favorable terms for economic integration into EU, totally bypassing hitching to the NATO cart full of broken-down American generals that want command of something, anything, so long as it has a trans-national character! Our Ukraine should work to an all-Ukraine unity in a coalition with the Ukrainians of the east by dropping hopeless hope in Putin's girlfriend and her scandalous husband. The day of the oligarchs must come to an end so economics will be tied to political national direction and a true European Union. Ukrainians have well schooled people-- and could have more-- serving as the translational link between Europe and Russia in exchange for a standard of living through technology more appropriate for its critical role as a European nexus. Yanukovych often spoke of balancing between EU and Russia's Federation. Voronin tried that but internal frictions made him a leader with no influence. This cannot be said of Ukraine once Yanukovych forms a true multi0-lateral coalition in the Rada. Technology can quickly become Ukraine's strong point if ethnic factionalism does not become once again the paralyzing fragmentary it had always been. Ukraine has few friends in its environs but NO ENEMIES. This is a wonderful opportunity lest Ukrainian choose to be enemies amongst themselves. The new Euro-nationalism expresses economically at the lowest level. That means that only technical know-how and clean&open politics producing economic advances are rewarded. The old system ended with the inauguration. Tomorrow has begun, hopefully with yesterday's garbage jettisoned so it does not pollute the future.

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