Independent in the middle of it all

April 30, 2010

Well dear reders, as you know I am fairly tolerent and not politically extreme in my views…….which is just as well in Ukraine as even more central politicians are pretty useless without looking towards the whack-jobs on the extremes of the political spectrum here.

So thinking about the changes since the new President and parliament majority took power I thought I would provide a bit of a recap.

The first thing we have to do is accept the new President won fairly…….or at least any vote rigging was equally matched by the opposition……making his victory genuine…..as acknowledged by the international community.

The forming of the new majority was contrevertial but again recieved no condemnation from anyone in the international community and did not really rally any public angst in Ukraine either.

The extention of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which I am personally not in favour of, I can understand due to the immense problems with the Ukrainian economy and the gas price reduction was desperately needed to get the GDP debt to a level within the parameters of acceptability to the IMF…….and IMF resumption with regards to loans is absolutely critical.  A 9 year short term gain as far as gas prices go over a 25 year long term pay-off.

The short term gain I will concede is vital right now but how it will be viewed when recovery arrives is a different matter.

I will also concede that a large majority in Crimea are pleased with the lease extention…….but then why wouldn’t they be?  The Russian Black Sea Fleet has been in Crimea for 300 years whereas Crimea has only been part of Ukraine for 44 years.  Historical links to the RBSF are certainly far more firmly set than historical links to Ukraine.

The lack of effective and organised opposition is worrying.  Not that there is no opposition, but it is headed by Yulia Tymoshenko who is not even a Member of Parliament, is poplist to say the least and in no way can she be called a uniting figure amongst the opposition parties.

An effective opposition is necessary for a democracy.  It does not change the passing of laws or policies as of course it is the opposition.  If it had enough votes to do so it would be the majority and would force its way into power after all. 

The opposition role is to challenge government policy when it disagrees and provide an alternative policy.  Unfortunately at present, as seen in the RADA a few days ago, the Ukrainian opposition provides no alternative solutions to getting a budget the IMF could live with and acts like children in the school playground.

If they ever regain power in their current form, who will take them seriously outside of the RADA in the international community?

All well and good and it would appear I can understand, even if I do not agree with, the current parliament policies on everything……until we get to my “soap box issue” of local elections.

Two days ago the President told PACE that they will be held in 2011.  This is an absolute outrage as they are due next month.

Yet again I must concede that it was not the party of the President that submitted the motion to delay them until 2011.  That was done by a female deputy from the OU-PSD (ex-President Yushenko’s party……and opposition coaltion party with BYuT of Yulia Tymoshenko)……BUT the PoR went along with it as the majority in the RADA.

I know the arguement will be that there was no State budget until a few days ago……and the State budget could not be passed until the gas price issued had been resolved allowing for resumption of IMF assistance…….but local elections would cost no more than $50 million which is a small drop in a very big bucket of debt and would continue the democratic process in a timely fashion as laid down by the Constitution of Ukraine.

Of course there has been little noise from the opposition about this……at least yet……and this revolves around self interest first and foremost.

From an OU-PSD perspective, should they retain the 5% support they had nationally in the Presidential elections, their days in local government are over……hense it was them who submitted the motion to delay the local elections in the first place.

From a BYuT perspective, it is likely they will lose some seats to Yatensiuk and Tigipko’s respective parties in local government……and currently under the instructions of Yulia Tymoshenko, all BYuT party members are to resign their posts in local, regional or national government offices because she does not believe they can be in government and opposition at the same time……which is what you would expect from a leader who cannot be in any form of government office because she is no longer an MP……..together with regional and local politics being well beneath her……..unless there is a poplist cause to jump on of course.

None of this though, in my view, validates the delay of local and regional elections until 2011.  Quite simply there is no real excuse to do so as when drawing up the budget of $ billions, allocating a small figure of $50 million could easily have been written into the budget, even at the expense of a longer term project which could have been delayed until 2011.

It is completely wrong and unjustifyable…….unlike most of the other actions of the current government, which although I may disagree with some actions, I can see the rationale behind such actions in the short term.

I can understand from a PoR viewpoint that delaying the local elections after extending the RBSF lease allows a cooling period of public opinion……although the majority of public opinion against the extention comes from regions where the PoR have a snowballs chance in hell of winning anyway.

It maybe, however, there is a better reason to delay it and allow public opinion to cool.  That would be a more calm setting for local elections and can be used as a fairly accurate guide to an early parliamentary elections called if it seems PoR and Tigipko (in particular) would gain…….or BYuT would lose more seats to Yatseniuk with the added bonus of OU-PSD getting slaughtered and ceasing to have any political presence of note in the RADA, further weakening the BYuT opposition coalition.

That would certainly be my advice to the PoR if I was a political strategist, as if it looks grim for them, they simply do not call early parliamentary elections and soldier on until 2012 when they are due anyway…….hoping for an uplift in the economy and reduction of unemployment……subjects the vast majority of Ukrainians care far more about than the RBSF lease extention.

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