Yushchenko loses Authority over Our Ukraine Parliamentary Party

June 30, 2009

Ukraine’s President, Viktor Yushenko has suffered a major blow and in relation to his authority over the parliamentary party of “Our Ukraine”

The participants in a congress of the People’s Union Our Ukraine party will not vote for recalling ministers representing this party from the Cabinet led by Yulia Tymoshenko, Vira Ulianchenko, the head of the party’s Council, said on Saturday.

“No, we will not [recall Our Ukraine ministers], because it is thanks to our ministers that our voice is heard there [in the government]” Ulianchenko told journalists before the congress. (Kyiv Post)

This is a major blow to Yushchenko whose strategy is to undermine Ukraine’s government in the hope of providing him justification for the dismissal of Ukraine’s democratically elected Parliament.

Yushchenko has until July 17 top call another snap Parliamentary election. The Congress of Our Ukraine had demanded that Yulia Tymoshcneko withdraw her intention to nominate of the presidency in 2010 or resign.

Yushenko’s strategy was to dismiss the Parliament in order to undermine Yulia Tymoshcneko’s Campaign for President in the hope that it would booster his chances of surviving the first round of voting.

Yushchenko’s support rating is less then 4%, with Yulia Tymoshyenbko, Aseniy Yatsenyuk and the Communist Party out polling the President, his chance of being reelected for a second term of office is very very slim. Even more so if Our Ukraine rejects his call to withdraw from the coalition.

Support for Our Ukraine, under the Viktor Yushchenko’s leadership, has collapsed from 15% in 2006 to less then 3% in 2009. If a fresh round of Parliamentary elections were held there is a real possibility that Our Ukraine would lose representation and influence.

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Threats to democracy need to be stopped – Arseniy Yatseniuk

June 30, 2009

Commentary on Arseniy Yatseniuk’s column

Today, 15:09 | Taras Kuzio, Source: Kyiv Post

Commentary on Arseniy Yatseniuk’s column: ‘Threats to democracy need to be stopped’
“I am convinced that all constructive forces should unite around my initiative on the holding of a referendum to defend the constitution and guarantee constitutional stability”, Arseniy Yatseniuk wrote in the Kyiv Post on June 26 and also in Ukrayinska Pravda.

Very good. But, why have you only decided to support a referendum now?

When you were first deputy head of the Presidential Secretariat between 2006-2007, why did you then not support [the Yulia Tymoshenko bloc] (BYuT)’s initiative to hold a referendum? The Constitutional Court ruled already in October 2005 that constitutional reforms needed to be put to a referendum and it is surprising that it has taken you four years to therefore call for a referendum. In 2006-2007, the president and his team (including yourself) did not support a referendum on the constitutional changes.

Waking up to call for a referendum now is pure unbridled political expediency in order to gain dividends for your presidential election campaign. “History, as we know, repeats itself. In 2004, constitutional changes were introduced right ahead of presidential elections and today we see the same thing again happening.” So absolutely true! And your interest only now in this question shows how you are not any different and cannot claim to be a “candidate of change.”

A “candidate of change” would not take an interest in the Constitution only when elections are approaching. Where were your strong principled views on the Constitution and the need to listen to Ukrainian citizens and voters through a referendum in the last four years?

Yatseniuk believes: “But I am convinced that during a political and economic crisis, on the eve of the start of a presidential election campaign such initiatives on the contrary will once and for all destabilize the situation in the country.” Why has Yatseniuk remained silent since 2006, when Ukraine has been in perennial political crises and instability? Why has he never once criticized Victor Baloga, his employer in 2006-2007, when he was deputy head of the Presidential Secretariat, or President Victor Yushchenko? It is hard not to believe that Yatseniuk had his head in the sand like an ostrich for many years and only now has woken up to the threat of political instability.

Yatseniuk says he is “categorically against any type of constitutional change.” What then is in favor of? Ukrainian voters are still unsure.

Yatseniuk does not tell Ukrainian voters what kind of constitution he supports and why. Is he in favor of a full presidential system (like in Georgia), a return to the 1996 semi-presidential system (which Yushchenko seeks), to keep the current semi-parliamentarism or to join with Regions, BYuT (and Eastern Europe) in moving towards full parliamentarism?

Every Western expert and legal adviser will say the same: that only the first (full presidentialism) or last (full parliamentarism) will bring constitutional and political stability to Ukraine, not a constitution that is “semi,” as in 1996 or 2006.

Yatseniuk should therefore please explain how “Our joint aim is to introduce into Ukraine constitutional stability” unless he backs either full presidentialism or full parliamentarism.

The presidents constitutional changes introduced very late in his first term on March 31 of this year will not bring “constitutional stability.” From Yatseniuk’s article we still do not know if he will support Yushchenko’s initiative or produce his own draft Constitution?

U.S. Judge Bohdan Futey commented on Yushchenko’s draft in the June issue of Yurydychnyi Visnyk Ukrayiny and earlier in a shortened version of the commentary in the Kyiv Post. Judge Futey critically evaluated Yushchenko’s proposals as not resolving the main problems of the 2004-2006 constitutional reforms: “Unfortunately, these changes interlaced the power of the executive and legislative branches, leaving the country in legal turmoil to this day”.

Judge Futey continues, “Generally, it is questionable whether this proposed version of the constitution merits approval” and “After careful study of the proposed constitution, it is neither supportable as a better legal document, nor would it help Ukraine function better as a state. Equality among the branches of government will not be established”.

Yatseniuk is 2-3 years late in his call for a referendum: if he as sincere and not an opportunist using the issue to win votes in election year he should have supported BYuT’s initiative in 2006-2007.

Ukrainian voters have a right to know whether Yatseniuk stands for a parliamentary or a presidential system? Currently, we can only infer that because Yatseniuk belongs to Vyacheslav Kyrylenko’s For Ukraine! Group in the Our Ukraine-Peoples Self Defence faction that he is more inclined to President Viktor Yushchenko’s preference for a presidential constitution.

It is no good simply to criticize Arseniy. You also need to show us your platform and team to prove you are really a “candidate of change.” Until then you are about as different to Barack Obama as any other Ukrainian politician


Yushchenko breaks the seals, unleashing his destruction on Ukraine’s Parliament

June 28, 2009

In an apoplectic act of fulfilling prophecies Viktor Yushchenko has ordered members of Our Ukraine to withdraw from the governing coalition. The order of the President is seen by many as a clear sign that Yushchenko will disband the Parliament forcing another round of Parliamentary elections to be held in October.

Yushchenko has until July 17 to put his plan for Armageddon into action. Under Ukraine’s Constitution the President can not dismiss the Parliament within six months of the next Presidential election scheduled for January 17, 2010.

Six months out from the scheduled Presidential election Yushchenko has gone on the defensive by calling on Yulia Tymoshenko to abandon her quest to nominate for president under threats of forced resignation.

Yushchenko’s strategy is born out of desperation. Yushchenko’s support rating is below 4%

In another sign and act of desperation and an attack on the democratic processes Yushchenko has demanded that the Kyiv Branch of the President’s political party “Our Ukraine” be dissolved because they refused to agree with the President’s proposals

Yushchenko is in a live or die situation. If Presidential elections are held before Parliamentary elections he will most certainly lose the next Presidential ballot. Forcing another round of Parliamentary elections is his only chance of survival. It is a big gamble and one that will cost Ukraine dearly.

If it is not played out right it could bring Ukraine to breaking point. Yushchenko would then be in a position to declare a state of emergency prolonging his term of office and installing himself as Ukraine’s first dictator.

Weaken opponents

The President’s strategy is designed to weaken support for Yulia Tymoshenko who has declared she will nominate for the 2010 Presidential election. Yushchenko hopes that by dissolving the parliament and forcing new elections he will not only tax the resources of the opposition but also remove Yulia Tymoshenko’s support base.

With Yulia Tymoshenko out of the way the only other obstacle between stopping Yushchenko from gaining momentum and chance to survive the first round of Presidential voting is Arseniy Yatsenyuk. All three payers (Yulia, Yushchenko and Yatsenyuk) could sit on around 13% each.

Deflect Attention

Yushchenko’s hopes that early Parliamentary elections will deflect attention away from his own dismal record as President and allow the electorate to vent their dissatisfaction on the Parliament.

Opposition in a winning position

Yushchenko’s actions will play into the hands of the opposition Party of Regions who will most likely win a majority of Parliamentary seats and will be in a position to form the new Government.

Potential for another unstable outcome – If at first you do not succeed try try again

Ukraine could see a repeat of the 2007 Parliamentary elections

If the newly elected Parliament fails to deliver a stable government then Yushchenko will use that to try and sell his new constitution as the only option to restore stability. By the time a new parliament is declared elected and a new governing coalition is in place Ukraine will be bedding down for the winter in the lead up to the end of year and Christmas celebrations. With temperatures as low as minus 20 deg C public attention and focus on the Presidential election campaign will be minimal.

Party of Regions will need to decide quickly what its strategy will be.

Party of Regions vote could either rise or fall depending on the outcome of the parliamentary elections. They are expected to also poll around 39% of the parliamentary vote.

They will also need to decide who will front their Elections campaign. The question is can they afford to risk nominating someone else for Prime minister and President? The time frame between parliamentary elections and presidential elections is insufficient for Yanukovych to hold both positions. From Party of Regions point of view it would be better if Parliamentary elections where either held simultaneously or after the Presidential elections.

Yatseniuk’s Y-Front for change Yushchenko’s fallback position

If all hell breaks loose and Ukraine begins to fall apart Yatsenyuk hopes to capitalize on the divisions and will continue to try and claim the mantel of a fresh face in Ukraine’s political leadership.

Problem facing Yatsenyuk is that he is seen to be too close to Yushchenko and a supporter of his failed policies.

Turn off and tune out

It could end up that the public will have tied of the electoral process and with a bitter cold winter may turn off altogether in which case if the voters turn out for Presidential elections is below 50% Yushchenko remains in office. This scenario is unlikely as Party of Regions will be making sure that voters in the East express their frustration and resentment aimed at Yushchenko who rightly will be seen as the main cause for division and instability.


Constitutional Instability In Ukraine Leads To ‘Legal Turmoil’

June 27, 2009

Ukraine’s constitutional wrangling has turned President Viktor Yushchenko (left) and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko from Orange allies into bitter rivals.

June 26, 2009
By Taras Kuzio
Source: rfel.org

On June 28, 1996, Ukraine became the last Soviet republic to adopt a post-Soviet constitution, and that day was designated Constitution Day, a national holiday. Two years later, on October 21, 1998, the Crimean Autonomous Republic adopted its own constitution, recognizing the peninsula within Ukraine.

Leonid Kuchma’s reelection as president in 1999 gave rise to Ukraine’s first non-left parliamentary majority that sought to ditch the country’s “semi-presidential” constitution in favor of a full presidential system. The relevant four questions were put to a referendum in April 2000 that was not internationally recognized, and were approved by a suspiciously high percentage of voters.

But Kuchma’s plans were undermined by the onset of the Kuchma-gate crisis in November of that year, when tapes made illicitly in his office allegedly proved that he ordered violence against journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, who was kidnapped on September 16 and found decapitated on November 2, 2000.

Ukrainian politicians traditionally approached constitutional, and indeed all other issues, from the standpoint not of national interests, but personal advantage. Following the 2002 parliamentary elections, Kuchma shifted 180 degrees from his constitutional position two years earlier toward support for a parliamentary system. The architect of this strategy, which had two objectives, was presidential chief of staff Viktor Medvedchuk, leader of the Social Democratic Party-united.

Disarming Yushchenko

The first objective was to split the opposition by persuading the left, perennial supporters of parliamentarism, to support the constitutional reforms advocated by pro-presidential centrists. The second was to strip popular opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko, if he were elected, of the extensive presidential powers enshrined in the 1996 constitution.

The second vote in April 2004 failed after some pro-presidential centrists rebelled in protest at the change earlier that month of the election law from mixed to fully proportional. That change had been a condition of support by the left for the constitutional reforms.

Ironically, the reforms adopted on December 8, 2004, in a parliamentary vote were identical to those rejected eight months earlier. During those eight months, the authorities waged an all-out campaign to prevent Yushchenko being elected with the powers enshrined in the 1996 constitution. The widespread fraud that marred the presidential ballot led to the so-called Orange Revolution, triggered by Europe’s largest postwar mass protests, in which one in five Ukrainians participated.

Three European Union-sponsored roundtables resulted in the December 8 compromise agreement that led to a repeat vote on December 26 that Yushchenko won. In return, Yushchenko granted verbal immunity to his defeated rival Kuchma, and Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine supported the vote on the constitutional reforms to come into force in 2006. The Yulia Tymoshenko bloc (BYuT) was the only parliamentary force to vote against the constitutional amendments.

Constitutional Questions

After being elected president, Yushchenko complained about, but failed to repeal, the constitutional reforms. First, between September 2005, when the Tymoshenko government was removed, until February 2007, when the Orange alliance was reconstituted, the BYuT and Our Ukraine were at loggerheads and divided. Yushchenko and Our Ukraine did not support the BYuT’s call to invoke the October 2005 Constitutional Court ruling that constitutional reforms required a national referendum. The BYuT campaigned for such a referendum in the 2006 and 2007 elections.

Second, Yushchenko did not establish his National Constitutional Council until December 27, 2007, and only presented his reform proposals on March 31, 2009. But by then he had no hope of implementing them as his popularity rating had collapsed to 2 percent and he had no support in parliament. Our Ukraine had voted to rejoin the coalition in December 2008, against his wishes.

The conflict between the president and prime minister continued throughout 2008, and the onset of the global financial crisis in the fall failed to dampen it. During that time, legal and constitutional experts and different political factions all reached the conclusion that the president’s daily intervention in economic and energy issues is unconstitutional. (Under the 2006 constitution, the government reports to the parliament, not to the president.)

In an April 2008 speech to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Tymoshenko announced a dramatic shift within the BYuT towards support for parliamentarism.

Their second conclusion was that without presidential support for the holding of a referendum, the only way the constitution could be changed was through a constitutional majority. But two successive attempts, in September 2008 and May 2009, to form a BYuT-Party of Regions coalition with the aim of pushing through constitutional reforms that would strengthen the parliament both failed, partly due to personal mistrust but also to Party of Regions’ demands to have their cake and eat it.

While supporting a president elected by parliament (i.e. full parliamentary system), Party of Regions Chairman Viktor Yanukovych simultaneously sought a “guarantee” of two presidential terms with extensive powers similar to those bestowed on the president in the 2006 constitution. German Chancellor Angela Merkel pointed out to Ukrainians in May that parliamentary presidents are ceremonial.

Halfway To Nowhere

Two further factors are of direct relevance. “Semi” political systems, whether presidential (as in the 1996 constitution) or parliamentary (as in the 2006 constitution), are recipes for instability and conflict. If Ukraine really wants political stability and an escape from constitutional and legal chaos, it should change the constitution either to a full presidential system or towards a full parliamentary system. Prime Minister Tymoshenko acknowledged the inevitability of that choice in the course of a lengthy interview on Channel 5 on June 11. “Semi” systems do not divide powers clearly and are therefore recipes for “chaos,” she stressed.

Nearly two decades after the disintegration of the Soviet empire, the 27 postcommunist states are divided into two groups: those in Central-Eastern Europe and the Baltic states have parliamentary systems, and those in Eurasia — presidential systems. The two exceptions are Ukraine and Moldova, with semi-parliamentary and parliamentary systems, respectively.

Parliamentarism and democratization went hand-in-hand in Central-Eastern Europe and the Baltic states, facilitating their integration into NATO and the EU. Parliamentarism could therefore further integrate Ukraine into Europe.

Ukraine’s transition from a semi-presidential to semi-parliamentarian constitution has completely overshadowed Yushchenko’s presidency. Personality, ideological, and gender factors have been compounded by constitutionally unclear divisions of powers. U.S. Judge Bohdan Futey noted this month in a Ukrainian legal journal that “these [constitutional] changes interlaced the power of the executive and legislative branches, leaving the country in legal turmoil to this day.”

Yushchenko’s presidency has been dominated by political crises, governmental instability, elite in-fighting, and constitutional chaos that have combined to undermine the potential generated by the Orange Revolution. With the constitutional question still unresolved as the Yushchenko era nears its end, Ukraine will enter the January 2010 election campaign in the same state of constitutional uncertainty as it did five years ago.

Taras Kuzio is a senior fellow in the Chair of Ukrainian Studies, University of Toronto, and research professor, Carleton University, Ottawa. He edits the bimonthly “Ukraine Analyst.”


Yuschenko has become delusional and out of touch with reality and the Ukrainian people

June 27, 2009

Ukraine’s embattled President, Viktor Yushchenko, is convinced that he will win Ukraine’s next Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

With a support rating of less then 4% the only way Yushchenko can only survive the first round of voting is if the elections are rigged or he has signed a pact with the devil and sold Ukraine’s soul.

His Party “Our Ukraine” support rating has slumped over Yushchenko’s term of office. In 2006 they had 14% of the vote. In 2007 they merged with the People’s Self-Defence Party and their combined vote remained at 14% (Peoples Self Defence Party where estimated to have 5% support which represents a decline in support for Our Ukraine by a corresponding 5 percentage points).

Current opinion polls place Yushchenko on 3.5% and Our Ukraine below 3%

If fresh parliamentary elections are held Our Ukraine, under Yuschenko’s leadership, is likely to lose outright.

Our Ukraine, ignoring calls for Yushchenko to resign, has called on the Prime-minister Yulia Tymoshchenko to renounce her intention to nominate for the Presidency or resign.

Yuschenko’s nomination for a second term of office will undermine support for Arseniy Yateniuk’s newly created “Y-Front for change” party.

In a second round of voting Yushchenko’s supporters, in a runoff between Yulia Tymochenko and Viktor Yanukovych, will split giving Yanukovych the the winning edge in the forthcoming presidential elections.

Next month will be a decisive moment in Yushchenko’s fortune.

Yushchenko has called on Our Ukraine’s Ministers to resign, undermining Ukraine’s government in order for Yushchenko to seek to dismiss Ukraine’s democratically elected parliament for a second time and hold another round of Parliamentary elections in October (a date that Yuschenko has rejected for the holding of Ukraine’s Presidential elections).

On July 1 Ukraine will hold a special session of the parliament before it moves into Summer recess. Yushchenko has until August to come up with a valid excuse to terminate the authority of the Parliament and dismiss the Government.

The Parliament is scheduled to reconvene after the summer break on September 1 by which time Yushchenko would have lost authority to call fresh Parliamentary elections. (Article 90 of Ukraine’s constitution)

Presidential elections are scheduled for January 17, 2010


Yanukovych on track to become Ukraine’s next President

June 27, 2009

Ukraine’s two round Presidential election will cost over 100 million dollars per round in direct costs and a further 150 million in campaign costs A total cost of around 500 Million dollars for the two rounds. And what will they get for it? A failed President.

Recent opinion polls indicate that Viktor Yanukovych (PoR 34.7%) will be in poll position and progress to the second round. Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT 21.5%) is the most likely other candidate being 4 percentage points ahead of Arseniy Yatseniuk (Y-Front 27.6%).

Ukraine’s embattled President, Vikitor Yushchenko, has less then 4% support and will not be a serious contender. Yuschenko is what is referred to as a “Spoiler Candidate“. Yuschenko’s candidacy will be the difference between Yulia and Arseniy.

Ukraine needs to scrap the two round system and adopt a single round Preferential ballot. Same result at half the cost – Results of the elections known in days as opposed to months. 100’s of Millions of dollars. Money that Ukraine can use for hospitals and education

Sadly the pool did not ask voters who their second preference would go to or who they would vote for in a second round ballot. Simple assumptions indicate a Yanukovych win. Already there is concern that Yuschenko is hatching a plot to rig the election. It is expected that the President Yuschenko will once again seek to dismiss Ukraine’s parliament in July/August and call another round of parliamentary elections in October.

Yanukovych would get 34.7%, Tymoshenko 21.5% if presidential elections in Ukraine were held this Sunday
Saturday June 27, 15:39
Source KyivPost

If presidential elections in Ukraine were held this Sunday, Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych would garner 34.7% of the vote, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko 21.5%, and Change Front leader Arseniy Yatseniuk 17.6%, according to a public opinion poll conducted by the Kyiv International Sociology Institute in June, the Mirror Weekly (Dzerkalo Tyzhnia) newspaper reported.

Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko would get 5.7%, Verkhovna Rada speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn 3.8%, and President Viktor Yuschenko 3.5% of the vote.

Another 2.2% would give their votes to former President Leonid Kuchma and 2% to Oleh Tiahnybok, the leader of the All-Ukrainian Union ‘Freedom’.

Former Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko would get 1.3%, former National Bank Chairman Serhiy Tihipko 1%, Kyiv Mayor Leonid Chernovetsky 0.6%, Ukrainian People’s Party leader Yuriy Kostenko 0.2%, and former State Property Fund head Valentyna Semeniuk-Samsonenko 0.1%.

The other candidates would get in total 2.8%, and 3.1% of the voters would vote against all.

Another 9.5% said they would not cast their ballots and 14.9% are so far undecided whether to go to the polling stations.

The poll also showed that the possible voter turnout would be around 67%.


Yushchenko’s proposed Foreign policy vaccuum

June 25, 2009

Just who is responsible for the formation and determination of Ukraine’s Foreign Policy?

Under the provision of Ukraine’s current Constitution the Parliament is responsible for the determination of Foreign policy

Article 85
The authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine comprises:

5) determining the principles of domestic and foreign policy;

The President and Foreign minister has a Representative role and Cabinet of ministers an administrative role

Yushchenko’s Foreign Policy Vacuum

Under the proposed constitutional amendments put forward by Victor Yushchenko no one is responsible for the determination of Foreign policy. The President has a “leadership role”, The Cabinet of Ministers is responsible for the implementation of Foreign Policy and the President’s appointed Council of National Security and Defence has a coordination role. But nowhere in Yushchenko’s draft constitution is it stated who and how foreign policy is determined. It just exists or is the sole prerogative and determination by the President though general powers of decrees.

The decision to join NATO for example would be a Foreign Policy initiative but who actually makes this decision?

The people of Ukraine will have no say in matters of foreign policy or International agreements. All Ukrainian referendums on such topics are prohibited.

Ukraine under Yushchenko would exist in a Policy free zone to be lead/coordinated and implemented but not determined.

Yushcheko’s constitution is looking very much tattered as a result

Article 21 – General

The foreign policy activities of Ukraine are aimed at ensuring its national interests and security by maintaining peaceful and mutually beneficial co-operation with members of the international community in accordance with generally recognized principles and norms of international law.
Ukraine, independently, takes the decisions on joining or accession to international organizations, political and economic intergovernmental associations and on free withdrawal from them.

Article 118 President “Leadership”

The President of Ukraine:
1) exercises leadership in the spheres of foreign policy, defence and national security;

9) addresses the people of Ukraine and the National Assembly of Ukraine with annual and out of turn messages on domestic and foreign policy of Ukraine;
10) abrogates the Resolutions of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on foreign policy, defence and national security issues after consultations with the Prime-Minister of Ukraine

Article 120 Council of National Security and Defence co-ordination

The Council of National Security of Ukraine is the coordinative organ on the issues of foreign policy, defence and national security.

The Council of National Security of Ukraine coordinates and controls the activities of the executive organs in the spheres of foreign policy, defence and national security.

Article 126 Cabinet of Ministers responsible for implementation

The Cabinet of Ministers ensures, and is responsible for, the implementation of domestic and foreign policy of the State, the execution of the Constitution and laws of Ukraine, acts of the President of Ukraine.

See review of Yushenko’s proposed constitutional changes