Hot seats, list bumping and legacies – OdessaNovember 3, 2015
Following on from yesterday’s entry and the power dynamics within the politics of Odessa following the local elections, the question of who takes what “power roles” arises.
The second most powerful position in City Hall after that of Mayor, which Gennady Trukhanov remains, is that of Secretary of the Council. It is the position that assumes the role of temporary Mayor should something untoward happen to Mr Turkhanov. The position was, until the recent elections, filled by Oleg Brindak. Mr Brindak is a very clever political mover. He has a sharp mind. He is one of those around Mayor Trukhanov that does his thinking. Gennady Trukhanov is certainly not the smartest of political minds, but he is smart enough to know he is not that smart, so he surrounds himself with clever people – and Oleg Brindak is one such person.
Mayor Trukhanov will want Oleg Brindak voted back into that role by the new City Council. Assuredly the 27 “Truth Affair” deputies will vote accordingly
Naturally Governor Saakashvili will want Sasha Borovik, having recorded a solid 25%+ of the electoral vote to take that Secretary of the City Council role – which would be extremely problematic for Mayor Trukhanov. Not problematic insomuch as it will prevent Mayor Trukhanov stealing small change from various budget headers, because Mayor Trukhanov doesn’t steal small change from budget hears. If and when he acts nefariously it is for big money – often related to road repair and/or road construction where he has private interests. The problems will come for those around the Mayor upon whom he relies to make him seem smarter than he is.
The clearly growing schism between the Solidarity-Saakashvili camp and the Solidarity-Goncharenko camp has to be taken into account too.
That “Goncharenko camp” will be against both Messrs Brindak as a Trukhanov man, and also Borovik as a Saakashvili man. The Solidarity-Goncharneko camp will have their own candidate in mind – “Candidate Z” who for now will remain nameless for he is yet to agree to be put forward.
Quite how the 14 Solidarity deputies will vote – Mr Borovik or “Candidate Z” – will depend upon internal schisms, legacies, and future expectations regarding the party (and those that will ally with either internal pole) in the Oblast regarding the Governor position.
The Opposition Block will be against the nomination of Sasha Borovik. It will be very comfortable with the reelection of Oleg Brindak and not overly against “Candidate Z” (who is a genuinely good People’s Deputy for his part of the city – not just a pre-election campaigner). The 12 Opposition Block deputies are likely to vote for Mr Brindak unless instructed by Mykola Skoryk to do otherwise.
Sergei Kivalov’s Morskaya Party will vote dependent upon what deal Mr Kivalov can cut and with whom. In many ways the wolves are at the Kivalov door having run for Mayor to split the Trukhanov vote and knowing himself to be in the Governor’s sights, may offer opportunities to mitigate difficulties with either should his 6 City Hall deputies vote sympathetically – or he may have an eye a little further in the future in the belief he can hang on that long.
The 5 Samopomich deputies votes are unlikely to be influential “king maker” votes – if they decide to vote at all.
To the Oblast Rada – Again the Solidarity-Saakashvili verses the Solidarity-Goncharenko schism has significants. Where will the 22 Solidarity Oblast deputies head?
Clearly Governor Saakashvili would want to see Maria Gaidar installed as Olbast Rada Chair. She is surely a capable and likable candidate – but she is seen as part of “Team Saakashvili”. Thus despite many within the “Goncharenko Solidairty camp” highly rating and liking Ms Gaidar (and rightly so), their support for her candidacy seems unlikely.
That said the “Goncharenko camp” has no volunteers for the role – for it means working with Governor Saakashvili. Similarly, few if any “Team Saakashvili” within Solidarity would vote for a “Goncharenko camp” candidate.
As stated yesterday, a more neutral Solidarity candidate does want the role, Yuri Maslov – yet he will struggle to get support from either of the fractious poles within Solidarity easily.
Naturally the 23 Opposition Block deputies will vote for Mykola Skoryk. Neither Solidarity camps will do so. Neither will the 11 deputies of Trukhanov’s Trust Affair party. They are likely to vote for a Solidarity candidate, for they will generally fall in line with Solidarity unless Kolomoisky’s interests are seriously challenged. The question therefore is which Solidarity? The answer is clearly not the Saakashvili-Solidarity following the events and rhetoric of the mayoral elections. By default (and by design which will become apparent soon), they will head toward the Goncharenko-Solidarity.
The 11 Batkivshchyna deputies will vote as they are told by Yulia Tymoshenko – free thinking and values driven individuality and voting is not a Batkivshchyna Party trait and never has been. It is very unlikely that Mykola Skoryk of the Opposition Block would be supported, thus it is a question of whether she backs Saakashvili-Solidarity (with an eye on early Verkhovna Rada elections and the possible/probably arrival of “Team Saakashvili” in the political halls of Kyiv), or backs Goncharenko-Solidarity.
The 7 deputies of Nash Krai will vote for a Solidarity candidate, for it is a party that will vote for “the power” – whomever “the power” maybe. Ergo it will consistently support Solidarity for the foreseeable future. And with the near future in mind, it is likely to vote in line with the Goncharenko-Solidarity rather than the Saakashvili-Solidarity side of the party.
Lastly the 7 deputies of Igor Kolomoisky’s Vidrodedzhennya are unlikely to vote for the Saakashvili-Solidarity due to the Governor’s public position against Mr Kolomoisky. Unless Messrs Kolomoisky and Firtash/Liovochkin strike a deal within the next 48 hours (which they won’t as the numbers don’t add up even if they wanted to), then Vidrodedzhennya will not vote for Mykola Skoryk either. This leaves only the Goncharenko-Solidarity candidate – if one can be found willing to work with Governor Saakashvili. As stated, currently there are no volunteers.
Thus, all being equal, Maria Gaidar, (despite being very much liked and respected by all) seems extremely unlikely to gain very much support at all due to the push-back against the Governor.
Mykola Skoryk will also fail, thus resigning his Oblast Rada mandate and remaining an MP in the Verkhovna Rada. Anything less than being Oblast Rada Chair is all rather pointless for him – and he will not have the support. The Opposition Block list will bump down one to the next candidate.
Talking of bumping down party lists, with two successful Solidarity Oblast Rada deputies also taking Mayor positions, that list also bumps down two places making otherwise unsuccessful candidates rather happy.
The willing Solidarity candidate, Mr Mazlov, is nobody’s man – but in the absence of a willing Goncharenko candidate cannot be entirely ruled out.
Readers may well be asking why the push-back against the Governor (and Team Saakashvili)?
As has previously been written here, and as was to be expected by a politician such as Mr Saakashvili, the existing Goncharenko structures within the Oblast Rada he wanted to disassemble and reassemble with his team. Loyalty counts far more than ability in power structures – both are preferable, but not always attainable, at which point unquestioned loyalty wins.
The Governor has been successful in inserting many of his people into the local political life via elected positions, quite probably not only to create the opportunity for a more consolidated power vertical in the elected chambers together with his appointments whilst in Odessa as Governor, but also to leave behind a loyal structure when he moves onward – which is inevitable and probably within the next 6 months (if not sooner).
If and when “Team Saakashvili” becomes a political party, and if there are early Verkhovna Rada elections in Spring 2016 (as is generally anticipated) then all the current Odessa team will naturally be on the party list – and his brand will garner more than 5% nationally propelling all to the Verkhovna Rada.
If there are no early elections, the question still remains as to how long Governor Saakashvili will remain. He has the police chief, the customs chief and the prosecutor (all of which are good and decent people that are and hopefully will remain an asset to Odessa when he leaves), but he does not have City Hall, which will definitely work with Solidarity (less dire threats to Kolomoisky assets), but it will not with the Governor easily or willingly. The Governor no longer has the Oblast Rada having cast aside (and annoyed) much of the local Solidarity Party that will now have an eye upon a post-Saakashvili environment. The Governor’s legislative hands are tied by Kyiv and their is no shortage of animosity with the Prime Minister (Two narcissistic personalities clashing.) The room for the Governor to expand is now severely limited within the local political space in his current role, but he is a political asset that President Poroshenko can ill-afford to waste.
So why are so many within Solidarity, Nash Krai and Truth Affair looking at the “Goncharenko-Solidarity” when the “Saakashvili-Solidarity” holds the positions of power?
The answer to that is seemingly clear. In a post-Governor Saakashvili Odessa, who is likely to be the next Governor?
An Odessa native, leader of the Oblast Solidarity Party, former Oblast Rada Chairman perhaps? If so, then Alexie Goncharenko would be the next Olbast Governor should the position be offered him, and should he accept.
Would Mr Goncharenko resign as an MP of the Verkhovna Rada to become the Governor of Odessa if the position was offered to him? Undoubtedly. Hence bets are hedged in his favour, particularly as the Governor has managed to make enemies almost everywhere – many perhaps somewhat unnecessarily.
All of the above may simply prove to be wrong – but it seems difficult to see things unfolding differently unless Governor Saakashvili can pull off a masterstroke, strike a deal with Alexie Goncharenko, or have President Poroshenko force a peace between them.
Whatever the case, whilst who sits in what seats of power will soon be decided, the successful personalities are far, far less important than the votes that get them there – for that voting will indicate the alliances that will work both in front of, and behind the curtain for the next 2 years.
With Nash Krai and Mayor Trukhanov’s Truth Affairs both likely to vote the (Goncharenko) Solidarity line quite reliably, interesting times seem to await.