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The technicalities of saving a technical party – “Will Of The People”

November 5, 2016

There are many little known clauses within The Rules of the Verkhovna Rada.  Among that number are Articles 59 and 60 which govern the creation of factions and/or groups within the parliament.

In sum, parliamentary factions and/or groups are to be formed within the first session of the Verkhovna Rada for the duration of that parliamentary term/mandate.  To remain valid throughout a parliamentary term/mandate, those factions and/or groups shall not be less than the number of members of the smallest faction and/or group when it formed during the first parliamentary session.

As such, whilst factions and/or group numbers may fluctuate during a parliamentary term as parliamentarians defect from one and head to another, or when independents decide to join one faction and/or group or another, the faction and/or group that was the smallest when formed during the fist parliamentary session cannot afford to do anything other than attract other parliamentarians.  Should one of their number leave, unless that parliamentarian can be replaced, within 15 days that faction and/or group fails to exist per the aforementioned Articles within the Rules of the Verkhovna Rada.

“Technical parties” are a common phenomenon within Ukrainian politics.  They are created to split another parties vote – for example as Nash Krai was created by President Poroshenko’s circle to include the more presidential leaning/compliant ex-Party of Regions parliamentarians in order to split the Opposition Block voters – which it successfully did.  That, or they are created post elections to coalesce around the interests of the oligarchy and/or non-official politically vested interests.

It all gets rather murky and disorientating when groups form within factions that represent opposing interests and can hold each other to ransom when it comes to voting, or even faction survival.

Whatever.

The result of the most recent Verkhovna Rada elections witnessed the Will of the People (or the People’s Will depending upon your translation) become the smallest faction/group of the Verkhovna Rada with 20 parliamentarians.  Ergo, no faction/group could fall below 20 members during the current parliamentary term/mandate.

It is a group predominantly of ex-Party of Regions MPs, among them is Sergei Liovochkin’s friend and business partner of decades (the infamous Clearing House among others in their shared ownership), Ivan Fusin for example (the wealthiest MP from Odessa).  Mr Liovochkin being a very influential player within Oppo Block (and business circles).

Their voting record as a faction/group is prima facie inconsistent – which is what a reader may expect for a small group with no ideology and that finds its power due to the wafer thin majority of the current coalition.  When it comes to significant and crucial votes it often votes along the presidential line – which is unsurprising when its members votes appear to be “for rent” for anybody from The Bankova to Ihor Kolomoisky.

(Indeed it is this ability to guarantee the presidential whim gets over the parliamentary voting finish line when needs absolutely must, that insures that Mr Kolomoisky and Will of the People insistence upon the clearly corrupt and thoroughly shameless Roman Nasirov remains in post as Chief of the State Fiscal Service and has not been sacked as he should have been long ago – and jailed for blatant and unabashed corruption.)

This lack of ideology, “vote for rent” technical entity being otherwise directionless, it has little in the way of internal cohesion, structure, or overarching purpose.  It often has the appearance of simply falling apart.

On 26th October, MP Yuri Shapovalov announced his departure from Will of the People.  Ergo Articles 59 and 60 of The Rules of the Verkhovna Rada immediately came into force.  The Will of the People would cease to exist as a parliamentary faction/group 15 days later – unless Will of the People could attract a parliamentarian from elsewhere to replace him and maintain the 20 members it had when becoming the smallest faction/group in the first parliamentary session.

What to do if you happen to be a wafer thin majority coalition when a technical party stacked with ex-Regionaires that vote for your critical policies (due to grubby deals) when it’s absolutely vital is about to implode within 15 days of 26th October?

Proven to be without moral and open to hire, how many of this group would come to the president’s party – if there are any among that number who are not so odious as to prevent such an overt association?

Can these newly released parliamentarians be permitted to bounce around the Verkhovna Rada chamber chaotically before each embeds with a different faction and/or group?

Should they be allowed to embed with the junior coalition party The People’s Front strengthening its hand in the coalition?  Can they be allowed to head to the Opposition Block, or The Radicals, or Batkivshchyna or Nash Krai?  What number of these chaotically floating parliamentarians can be expected to embed where?  What are the repercussions of each?

If the status quo is preferred and predictable for The Bankova, how to not only save the Will of the People by 10th November, but also stabilise it and give it management and structure going forward?

Clearly nothing so crass as having a member of the president’s party defect to Will of the People is an option for even though the President’s party is holding a lot of ex-Regionaires among its ranks, public perception matters in this political parlour game.

The solution is obvious if a degree of plausible deniability is the desired projected perception.  Send somebody from a presidential technical party to join the Will of the People technical party, thus maintaining the broad and fairly predictable parliamentary status quo.

Step forward Nash Krai, the Bankova technical party created to split the ex-Regionaires.

But who from within Nash Krai?  It is not enough to simply send one member of Nash Krai to Will of the People returning its number to 20 members in the immediate term.  Considering its lack of internal cohesion, structure, and management, an effective individual would be a better choice for longer term predictability and parliamentary stability requirements.

Olexander Feldman

Olexander Feldman

The answer it appears is to send one of Nash Krai’s leading managers and long term Kharkiv parliamentarian Olexander Feldman (over the past decade previously a member of both Ms Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna, and latterly Party of Regions).

(Undoubtedly Ihor kolomoisky will be reasonably happy with this arrangement too, with Messrs Feldman and Kolomoisky long acquainted both through politics and through their historical high positions within the Jewish organisations in Ukraine (and beyond)).

Thus the technicalities of saving a technical party and maintaining the reasonably predictable parliamentary status quo both before and behind the political curtain would appear solved – providing the necessary announcements are made within the Verkhovna Rada prior to 10th November when the 15 days termination of Will of the People following Mr Shapovalov is due to be triggered.

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