Taking aboard the political carcasses – Coalition building, UkraineMarch 31, 2016
With a new majority coalition remaining out of reach despite over a month of horse trading and an extreme amount of shuffling behind the curtain among the Grey Cardinals, it appears Block Poroshenko and the People’s Front will attempt to gather between them enough currently independent parliamentarians into their faction folds to garner the slimmest of Verkhovna Rada majorities.
Many of those they are currently wooing are long standing parliamentarians, known as “carcasses”, whose allegiance and vote have been bought and sold over the years and who generally do little else than vote the party line for reward – per vote – if they turn up at the Verkhovna Rada at all. Occasionally they may make speech/TV appearance to support whatever policy, or put their name to authoring a (usually dubious) law vested interests want to become statute in return for favour of whatever kind.
In short, they are a complete waste of a democratic mandate – unless the buyer needs the votes for or against.
Requiring an absolute minimum of 226 votes to have a parliamentary majority, with Block Poroshenko and People’s Front managing 218 between them, 8 independent parliamentarians are required – more if possible.
Currently “negotiations” are underway with 10 such independent People’s Deputies (perhaps more). The monetary cost to purchase them, or the coercive threats to their interests will be high. The negotiations unsurprisingly are being handled by President Poroshenko’s enforcers, MPs Igor Kononenko and Sergey Berezenko, together with Vitaliy Kovalchuk of the Presidential Administration. From the People’s Front, the role has fallen to the equally dubious Andrew Ivanchuk.
The cost, whatever it may be, will certainly be far less than the any the financial burder of early elections that both Block Poroshenko/Solidarity and the People’s Front are committed to avoiding if at all possible – and it is possible to do so, even if temporarily.
That said, not all those that may join these factions (rather than the political parties themselves) to save the coalition and avoid early elections will be “carcasses” devoid of moral fibre. There are half a dozen or more parliamentarians banished from the Samopomich ranks for voting against the party line in August 2015 who are far from being overly nefarious. There also other clearly targeted individuals such as Sergei Rudyk, Artem Vitko, Yuriy Derevyanko and Eugenia Rybczynski among the independents.
The question then is perhaps not whether Block Poroshenko and the People’s Front can gather in a minimum of 8 (preferably more) independent parliamentarians, but of that number how many will be identified as odious “carcasses” as opposed to being perceived as upstanding parliamentarians.
It is a question of degree as to how further tarnished the political brand becomes by taking in some odious characters to make up the necessary numbers. The perception perhaps of rats boarding a sinking ship for one last rummage through its larder.
There is no political chance of a coalition with the Opposition Block for obvious reasons. It is a party (or perhaps two parties in the future should it split along oligarchy lines), that is destined to remain in opposition for another election cycle at the very least. The Yanukovych/oligarchy smell remains far too rancid for now, and thus the other parties will have another chance to fail spectacularly before the electorate as forced to reconsider it as a potential party of power.
Samopomich seem quite content to remain independent of the coalition this time around – perhaps in preparation for the inevitable presidential challenge of Andriy Sadovy, and is thus free to vote for or against any particular legislation or policy.
The position of The Radicals is dictated by the spoils on offer to its leader, as is always the case with populists with limited opportunity. That Mr Lyashko wants to be Prime Minister is no secret – no matter how fanciful. That he would settle for becoming Verkhovna Rada Speaker is also no secret. He will get neither as things stand at the time of writing. As and when he accepts that fact, The Radical’s may yet join the majority coalition anyway if sufficient Cabinet positions are offered – a minimum of 3 would be required, however Mr Lyashko would try to insist on certain ministries that will not come the way of his party.
Yulia Tymoshenko and Batkivshchyna were on the cusp of joining the coalition but a few days ago, until last minute blackmail demands of not Cabinet positions but a raft of 18 populist laws be adopted were presented. Some of those demands would have ended IMF cooperation (not for the first time at her hand), caused eyes to be rolled in every supportive embassy and capital in the western world, and thus ultimately brought the nation to its knees politically and economically.
That she is not demanding any Cabinet positions for her party to join any coalition and putting forward the populist demands that can always be attributed to her but never be met in the current circumstances, clearly indicates that she is already electioneering in the full expectancy that any new coalition will limp along for 6 or 12 months before its inevitable collapse and early Verkhovna Rada elections. Ms Tymoshenko knows what is it like to hold a coalition majority of 1 after all – and the inevitable outcomes of trying to stay in power with a slim majority when relying on political “carcasses”.
If there proves a need to have a populist in the coalition, far better to throw Mr Lyashko (who does work hard, listens to all parliamentary speeches, and attends all his committees) and The Radicals either the Speaker’s chair or a few ministries. than to entertain Ms Tymoshenko once again. (Ms Tymoshenko’s priorities remain what Ms Tymoshenko’s priorities have always been regardless of the effect upon the nation whenever she has been in power – that priority being Ms Tymoshenko.)
Coalition negotiations continue with Samopomich, The Radicals and Batkivshchyna nonetheless. Perhaps one party will yet join if its leader feels the costs of being outside the majority coalition outweigh the deficits of being within it – if so a small bet on The Radicals. The other leaders are oviousloy looking a little further over the political horizon.