Posts Tagged ‘BYuT’

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Points make prizes – but is the prize worth having?

October 22, 2014

With the RADA elections now only 5 days away, some thought should perhaps be given regarding any new coalitions and cabinet of ministers that will follow.

Way back on 24th/25th July an entry was published that stated Volodymyr Groysman would become Prime Minister after the forthcoming RADA elections as long as he didn’t drop the ball – and he hasn’t.  President Poroshenko will naturally want one from his stable as PM – and one he trusts, despite Arseniy Yatseniuk doing a decent job in very difficult circumstances.

Ergo, how effective that crystal ball gazing so many months ago will prove to be, is about to be seen in either illuminating and prophetic glory, or embarrassingly poor light.  That such an old entry has been resurrected so close to the elections may be rightfully inferred as that belief remaining – on the assumption that Volodymyr Groysman would want and accept the role of Prime Minister.  It remains something of a poisoned challis that demands an effect first 100 days when all is said and done.

However, Block Poroshenko is not likely to come anywhere close to a RADA majority – a coalition will be required to hold a robust majority.

The question is then not only with whom, but which party would accept a coalition in which the party leader does not become Prime Minister?

It is almost guaranteed that Ms Tymoshenko and Batkivshchyna will not be invited into any Block Poroshenko coalition.  You either work for Ms Tymoshenko, or against her – you do not work with her.  A more zero sum politician is hard to find, making her an extremely difficult partner.  Ergo any coalition involving Ms Tymoshenko could be expected to find her demanding to become Prime Minister and thus leading to a repeat performance of the feckless and wasted Yushenko/Tyoshenko years notable for in-fighting and squandered opportunities.

A coalition with the “Opposition Block” is simply out of the question for more reasons than it is necessary to list.

Gritsenko’s Civic Platform?  Probably not – even if he would be content to fill a Cabinet roll such as that of Defence Minister, which he has previously held.  Would he demand something more lofty?  Probably.

Would Arseniy Yatseniuk’s Popular Front form a coalition with Block Poroshenko, even when Yatseniuk himself would suffer a perceived demotion?  It is a possibility, but what position to offer Yatseniuk?  He is certainly a very clever man and capable of holding numerous positions.  A return as Speaker?  Deputy PM with a European integration port folio?  He is certainly well known and liked amongst those who will continue to financially and politically support Ukraine.

Tellingly, Yatseniuk refused the Block Poroshenko mandate, preferring the Popular Front run alone – a sign perhaps that a longer term view with future presidential elections are a consideration.  A case of being close, but not close enough to Block Poroshenko to be indistinguishable for future leadership contests.

What of Sergei Tigipko’s Strong Ukraine?  Such a coalition would certainly be perceived as reaching out to the eastern regions in a tangible way.  Tigipko is also a capable man.  Whether he would settle for a role other than Prime Minister is the question.  Deputy PM with a social policy port folio?  It would tick many boxes for him personally and instill a little more confidence in the east.

Ukraine’s version of Vladimir Zhirinovsky – the bellicose populist but otherwise empty shell that is Oleh Lyashko and the Radical Party?  He certainly believes that he will be King Maker – but will he?  Could a suitably airy and apparently important title be found for a man incapable of holding a serious and/or sensitive role?  Could a glorious title for a position of little influence be found?

The Self-Help party?  If it gets over the 5% threshold, it seems a realistic contender as a coalition partner.

Will a coalition of Block Poroshenko and one other party be enough to secure a robust majority – or will it require a trilateral coalition?  If it takes 3 parties for a sturdy majority, which 3 can work together effectively?

What of the shadow power building spanning party lines?  How much of a consideration will the generous – but not evenly applied – sprinkling of Sergei Liovochkin’s people throughout most parties effect which party is approached first by Block Poroshenko?  Will “shadow influence” be a factor in any decision making when it comes to accepting or mitigating Ukraine’s grey cardinal?  What of the chess games behind the political facade between Liovochkin, Poroshenko and Kolomoyski?

How easily will it all fit together if the prediction that Volodymyr Groysman will become the next Prime Minister is to be the non-negotiable starting point of any coalition building?  Points make prizes – but the prize has to be worth having for competitors when they are deliberating forming a coalition with Block Poroshenko – and coalition party leaders expect big hierarchical rewards for their allegiance.

Is this blog’s exceptionally fortunate legacy of success when peering into the Ukrainian political crystal ball about to get it wrong – and very soon?

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Election loyalties and tactical blunders – Odessa example

October 12, 2014

Not so very long ago, by and large the Ukrainian voting constituency could be divided into Orange and Blue – or Tymoshenko and Yanukovych.

Very much like other nations, many of those who voted Orange have never and would never vote Blue and vice versa.  No different to Americans who always vote Republican and never Democrat, or the British whom always vote Labour and never Conservative and vise versa.

Naturally onlookers may ponder such identity loyalty regardless of platform, policy or candidate – and many social and political scientists do.

The RADA elections in 3 weeks time, this year has no Blue running.  What is left of the official Party Regions is not running.  There is no party list for the party stalwarts to insure their RADA entry.  They are faced with first past the post, head to head electioneering for specific seats.  The exception to that may see Sergei Tigipko’s Strong Ukraine party pass the 5% electoral threshold.  The “Opposition Block” may very well struggle to overcome this hurdle.

Nobody would be surprised to see any of the old Regionaires who win any first past the post seats to coalesce within the “Opposition Block” in any new RADA formation – whether they have any current declared affiliation toward it or not.  It is unclear as yet whether Tigipko’s Strong Ukraine who whilst will certainly be in opposition, may shun any formal connections with the “Opposition Block”.  Time will tell.

However, the Orange vote is no longer Batkivshchyna or Ms Tymoshenko’s to dominate.  It too has been decimated.  The demise of Party Regions and Batkivshchyna long since predicted here.

Though Batkivshchyna and Ms Tymoshenko will enter the RADA passing the 5% party threshold, it is likely to lose a vast amount of votes to Block Poroshenko, Lyashko’s The Radical Party,  Hrytsenko’s Civil Position Party and Yatseniuk’s “People’s Front”.  Very vibrant, multi-party, democratic, and undoubtedly requiring coalition building to form a stable majority – a coalition from which we can expect Ms Tymoshenko and Batkivshchyna to be excluded.

So much for the party lists and 5% threshold – but what of those Regionaries who may win the first past the post seats for which the run and yet were uncomfortably close to the former President and were actively part of his corrupt pyramid?  In Odessa for example, the likes of Sergei Kivalov, Mykola Skoryk, and Eduard Matviychuk to name but 3.

Herein lies a problem for the traditional Orange vote and now displaced Blue vote from Odessa.

The Orange vote has numerous options and candidates for each seat to choose from as listed above – together with several others such as Svoboda who are unlikely to pass the 5% threshold but theoretically can win first past the post seats.  In short, the historical Orange vote will be distributed across numerous candidates.  All candidates will get votes, but none will get sufficient to be sure of victory.

And what of the Blue voters?  None will vote Orange per Batkivshchyna as stated at the very start of this entry, but some will vote for the Poroshenko candidates and perhaps the Yatseniuk candidates due to both leaders having history with Odessa – and history with Odessa counts when it comes to gaining votes.  Parachuted in candidates with no connection or history need not apply.  Others will vote for Strong Ukraine candidates in the belief it will be the only genuine opposition party to pass the 5% threshold.

Many however, will vote for those who used to be Blue – Kivalov, Skoryk and Matviychuk – based upon old loyalties, name recognition, the usual bribery, gift offering and local media bias.  This despite general acknowledgement they were far too closely involved with Yanukovych not have have been large beneficiaries of the Yanukovych system.

Very noticeably, there are no well known old Blues running against each other for any seat.  For example the Markov brothers or Evgene Tsarkov are not running for any seats, and thus the old Blue vote will not be as thinly distributed or split over a particular seat as it could have been.

It follows that although there may be some split of the Blue vote away from the Yanukovych loyalists and beneficiaries, Kivalov, Skoryk and Matviychuk – sufficient will remain to see them quite possibly become MPs due to the many Orange candidates sapping each others votes for each seat and failing to provide a more focused opposition.

As and when these nefarious individuals – and others from other towns and cities – are returned to the RADA, aside from onlookers pondering and decrying the misplaced/blind loyalty issues of some voters once again, perhaps there should be some recognition that had the non-Blue parties been more tactically aware, regarding certain seats against certain well known and corrupt/nefarious candidates, they may have chosen to field a single candidate to focus their voting constituency upon.

Maybe there is still time for parties to negotiate a single candidate to run against these men – maybe not.

All of that said, there is a definite need for an effective opposition in the RADA.  It is, however, a case of returning an effective and constructive opposition rather than returning a corrupt and nefarious body of people that are a hangover of the very worst of Ukrainian politics historically.  An effectively coercive and nefarious opposition may be as bad as a non-existent opposition.

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A Batkivshchyna implosion?

August 28, 2014

What seems long ago, on 6th June, an entry appeared here predicting the implosion of Yulia Tymoshenko’s political party, Batkivshchyna. – “With regard to Batkivshchyna, the only question is whether it splits into two or three parts – Ms Tymoshenko and loyalists to her, those who will stick with Arseniy Yatseniuk, and those who will head directly to the Poroshenko camp either via Solidarity or UDAR.

Regardless the integrity of Batkivshchyna is ruptured. The party ranking at least twice as high as its leader in every Ukrainian Olbast. The end is upon it, and implosion similar to that of Party Regions assured.”

Well that moment appears to now be upon the party – unsurprisingly within 48 hours of President Poroshenko dissolving the current RADA, thus commencing the statutory 60 days of campaigning prior to the 26th October elections.

Within 24 hours of the elections being caused, gapping chasms began to appear between Mrs Tymoshenko and Olexandr Tyrchunov.

Withing 48 hours, that split now appears to have become terminal – as predicted back in June..

The fault, undoubtedly that of Mrs Tymoshenko and her firm personal belief that Batkivshchyna, just as Block Tymoshenko previously, are nothing more than a vehicle for the ego and policies of Yulia Tymoshenko.  As has been written here in many an entry over many years – and as is the case with all populist politicians – the party need control the leader, not the leader the party.

It appears that quoting, reading and plagiarising Vaclav Havel (and others) in statements to the world during the years of her incarceration, have taught her little.  It seems that the reception she received upon her release and very subdued reception by the crowds of Maidan have taught her little.  The fact the Batkivshchyna Party actually coalesced as a party with something resembling an ideology and cause during her absence for several years, seemingly went oblivious to her.   Her 12% polling at the presidential elections in May, instilled no clear-eyed appreciation of her political future.

Her early maneuvering prior to the electoral starters gun, naturally all form and little substance, in “New Batkivshchyna, Old Heart” is very likely in need of a by-pass, if not necessarily resuscitation – yet.

All of this entirely predictable for anybody who has met and/or worked with Mrs Tymoshenko.  You either work for Mrs Tymsoshenko – or you work against Mrs Tymoshenko.  You do not work with Mrs Tymoshenko – and within hours of being given the chance to prove that once again due to the elections – she has split her party, with a number of senior, currently governmental and ministerial members, leaving.

Presumably, though it is not yet clear,  Turchynov, Yatsenyuk, Avakov, Denisov, Golovko, Mateychenko, Pashinsky, Paruby, Emets, Lynchenko, Burbak, Pishni, Hmil and Apostol etc., will head to President Poroshenko’s Solidarity party, or that of UDAR – those parties signing a pact prior to the presidential elections of mutual support.

If so, a disaster for Batkivshchyna when it comes to polling day on 26th October.  These politicians will take with them a considerable part of Batkivshchyna voters – discounting those already lost to other populist politicians like Oleh Lyashko.

That Mrs Tymoshenko will return to the RADA as leader of Batkivshcyna Party is certainly assured.  The cost to what was becoming something of a genuine political party with identifiable ideology and cause – immense – though many will doubt that actually matters to her much.

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Much ado about the predictable in the RADA

July 25, 2014

The deliberate collapsing of the coalitions in the RADA this afternoon, followed by resignations seems to have caught many – particular western – on-lookers by surprise.

Quite why so many on-lookers were surprised is – well, surprising.

This morning, this tweet contained within  today’s entry.  Not much warning perhaps.

So lets go back more than a month to this entry that explicitly predicted this occurrence and the reasons why.

Not a surprise when working to time lines – or perhaps better stated, when working backward from a certain date.  For months the goal has been to set new RADA elections at the same time that local elections are to occur.  That date is already set.  It is 26th October.

Thus is it necessary to work back from that date to understand today’s events.

The Constitution of Ukraine states:

The President of Ukraine may terminate the authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine prior to the expiration of term, if:
there is a failure to form within one month a coalition of parliamentary factions in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as provided for in Article 83 of this Constitution;
there is a failure, within sixty days following the resignation of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, to form the personal composition of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine;
the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine fails, within thirty days of a single regular session, to commence its plenary meetings.

So moving back from 26th October, adding together the one month required to allow for the forming any new coalition – which will deliberately not be formed – plus the 60 days required for electioneering, delivers us at 31st July as the very last possible day to legally fulfill the Constitutional requirements and simultaneously hold RADA and local elections on 26th October.

Therefore, that this happened on 24th July should come as no surprise to anybody.  That these matters have been engineered by way of dissolved coalitions when working toward 26th October as election day for a new RADA was clear.

It is a matter of math only, to realise that it was now or never if that goal was to be achieved.

It is also a step welcomed by President Poroshenko.

There may be a war on in a small part of Ukraine, but the rest of the nation expects new RADA elections – and will seemingly now get them – with the benefit of budgetary and organisational savings when holding the two elections on the same date.

Having voted in a president with a war on – why not a new RADA and local government too?

The only thing of particular note from today when looking forward is that Vice Prime Minister Groysman is now acting Prime Minister.

But that is predictable too.

Acting PM Groysman is a President Poroshenko man.  A very capable man it has to be said, but he is of the “right horse stable”.  Will Volodymyr Groysman remain Prime Minister after the elections?  There’s a good chance unless he drops the ball between now and 26th October.

 

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An eventful few days for Oleg Tsarov

June 4, 2014

Yesterday was Oleg Tsarov’s birthday.

Today, 235 RADA MPs voted to strip him of his deputies mandate – thus removing his immunity from prosecution – sanctioning his arrest and detention for “calls to commit violent regime change and overthrow the constitutional order in Ukraine” at the request of the out-going Prosecutor General.  (Let’s see how that comes into play in the future.)

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His Facebook page is an interesting read – and something to keep an eye over the coming days if his apprehension is less than swift.  Perhaps he will join what is a growing enclave of ex-Presidents in Rostov?  (Yanukovych and Ankvab.)

It is interesting that 235 RADA Mps voted to do so – for it is far more in number than Batkivshchyna, UDAR and Svoboda have amongst their number – and much less than the number of MPs present in the RADA today.  (Also today 300 voted to inaugurate persistent-elect Poroshenko at 10.00 on 7th June for example.)

One wonders just how much another 20 MPs leaving the Party of Regions today affected any voting.

Anyway, an incredibly rare occasion whereby the RADA strips one of its own of immunity – but these are extraordinary times.

 

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Tomorrow’s parties – Where are they today?

May 26, 2014

Yesterday was one of those days my good lady hates – my day full of meetings with diplomats, representatives of international institutions and international NGOs, talking politics, policy and solutions – and she sat thoroughly bored throughout.

It was the sort of day that provides more than a weeks worth of blog entries if all that was discussed, debated and  agreed/disagreed upon was written about by unpacking it all into separate issues.

As always with such meetings, the Chatham House rule applies if I decide to write about any discussion. Of the numerous topics discussed with various people, I will concentrate upon a specific issue raised during several hours of discussion with those very clever people from Carnegie.

Having firstly thoroughly trashed the use of  the almost meaningless but en vogue term “decentralisation” in favour of “devolution”  for reasons of clarity of function and perception when it comes to the subject of moving power from the political and policy centre to the regions, we eventually, several stops later, reached the subject of this entry – the political party void on the horizon for Ukraine.

All acknowledged that Svoboda has peaked and will become little more than a regional party once more.

All agreed that Mr Akhmetov deliberately chose Mr Mikhail Dobkin to lead the Party Regions into oblivion, allowing the ballot box to kill it off rather than Mr Akhmetov simply withdrawing his funding prior to the public nod of approval to bury it.

There was no disagreement that Batkivshchyna will also split into 2 or 3 far less potent individual entities – in effect ceasing to exist as it does today.

UDAR, once Vitali Klitschko becomes Kyiv Mayor will also struggle to remain whole.

So much for the agreed consensus of opinion.

Our problem – and more specifically the problem for Ukraine, was what comes next?

The days of personality based parties in Ukraine are all but over, so where will the new parties come from to fill the void?  They will be ideologically driven if they are to capture the attention of the ever-growing post-Soviet electoral constituency.

Despite a particularly uncivil civil society predating EuroMaidan, the events in Kyiv from December to February created a civil society with clear purpose, enthusiasm and no shortage of previously missing traction with the public.

In a democracy civil society is normally a fertile breading ground for the civic minded to move through from lobbying and activism directly into politics and the legislature.

The current problem is that civil society sees the Ukrainian political class as corrupt, feckless and generally contemptible – which it is.  Therefore it intends to fight the good fight and try and keep the political class from straying from a righteous accountable and democratic path – fair enough, that is part of the role of a robust and vibrant civil society.

However, the most capable individuals within Ukrainian civil society display no desire to move into politics themselves, despite the fact that it seems clear the current party structures that have historically fought for power within Ukrainian politics are all about to fall apart at about the same time.

Of the very few unanswered questions of the evening, was how to move the better and untainted civil society individuals through from civic activist to the political class when they have no desire to do so, and how to generate ideologically founded political parties now, in preparation for the significant party void that will soon descend upon the RADA?

Whether such parties be ideologically centre-left, centre-right, or centre, and be they pro-European or pro-Eurasian, they will need to emerge to replace and/or resist what remains of the political vehicles/parties created 20 years ago simply for personality projection or interests protection.

Some new parties will be created from the splits amongst current parties that have already – or will very soon – manifest themselves.  Others will necessarily need to be born free from inherited political legacies – but from where with a reluctant civil society is a big question.

 

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Tymoshenko opposes open electoral lists

April 9, 2014

Eventually there will be new RADA elections.

Although all those currently sitting in the RADA are there on the back of a 2012 public mandate until 2017, either via the 50% of seats won via the first past the post system, or via the 50% of seats filled via the party list system, due to recent events in Ukraine there is a loud call for new RADA elections and a renewing of MPs legitimacy – perhaps rightly in lieu of the absence of any law providing for an MPs recall after some actions or inactions of RADA members that have raised the public ire far beyond the usual over the past 6 months.

There is little to say about this electoral construct that I did not say prior to, and during the 2012 elections.

In summary, the first past the post system is open to bribery, threats and nefarious deeds by candidates, their supporters, within the CEC, regional and local electoral commissions  – Not to mention well publicised deeds of inferred intent when influencing voters – such as the resurfacing of a road within an electoral district paid for by the MP (or their party) in order to curry favour with that specific constituency.

In short the issue is one of buying victory – or buying the defeat of a rival.

The closed party list system has been no less abused by the relevant party leaders either.

Almost without fail, if x% of the national vote has equaled y number of seats for a particular party, then the top y number of candidates from the party list fill them.  The ranking of those candidates numerically, done by the party leadership alone.  Hence it is called a closed list, as the voter has no say in the closed party list rankings.

This has caused financial bidding amongst candidates to sit high enough upon the closed party list to be assured of becoming an MP.  This bidding for high position on the list runs into many millions of dollars for each RADA seat – that money going who knows where?  (Rhetorical question.)

The going price today I have no idea – but in 2007 my good lady was approached by a major party inquiring if she would like to be placed on their party list – the fee then $5 million.  The return on this investment – aside from absolute  immunity with impunity regarding the law – was to at least double that investment during the 5 year term through illicit payments for her signature on documents relating to whatever governmental committee she ended up sitting upon, plus the occasional “thank you” for voting “the right way”.

The offer was politely refused as my good lady has no interest in politics or the “RADA business club”.  Regardless, there was and would still be a price to pay for sitting high upon any closed party list unless you are deemed to be a necessity, truly exceptionally gifted, or favourite of the party leader.

(In case you are wondering why my good lady was selected, many moons ago, she was something of a Soviet sports star and then went on to help set up NTV in Moscow – only to be in the building when Mr Yeltsin had his tanks shell it.  Thus she therefore holds some “recognition” amongst the 40 – 60 somethings who were sport fans/NTV viewers back in her day, and that is why she was approached – Life with me must seem somewhat sedate/dull for her I suspect.)

Anyway, the closed party list has hardly been a system where the brightest or the best flourish – but where the corrupt and nefarious do extremely well.

Historically there have been no end of calls from the electorate and some MPs alike to end the closed list system and swap to an open party list, whereby voters have some influence on who ranks where in that hierarchy.  Somewhat more democratic most would agree.

Open party lists were a PACE recommendation for the Ukrainian electoral code back in 2010.   17 EU member states use open lists of one form or another.  It seems to be generally an acceptable European thing to do.

And yet Ms Tymoshenko has now come out against the open party list – preferring the closed system.

Her reason given, an open party list will lead to the same bribery and nefarious acts that the first past the post system brings, and money must be separated from politics  She makes no mention that the closed party list potentially – and has – put a lot of money at her disposal, as explained above.

She does give something of a democratic nod insomuch as to say the Batkivshchyna list would be open to civil society to make comment upon candidates – but civil society is not the electoral constituency and neither is civil society elected into the role it adopts in democracy by society either.

However – open or closed lists – as the leader of Batkivshchyna Party, is it not Ms Tymoshenko’s responsibility to purge her party of all and any strongly suspected or known corrupt or nefarious candidates?  She has publicly promised to do it many times.  Is she not responsible for insuring any contaminated candidate fails to get on the party list as a matter of principle (and internal party policy)?

Her argument to have closed lists at a time when large parts of Ukrainian society are demanding transparency, good governance and greater democracy does not seem to fit the mood of the moment – and a good deal of politics is about timing.

Why then has she declared herself against it?  Is it a (party) financing issue?  Is it a control issue?   Does she fear that she herself would not make the list if left to public whim?  Is it that it possibly refuses her closest allies guaranteed seats, thus making promised rewards potentially more difficult to fullfil?

It does seem a rather odd thing to state when public opinion already has her trailing other presidential candidates and the demand to stay well clear of the old system has not quietened.

We can be quite sure that other presidential candidates and party leaders will now support the opposing and more democratic view advocated by PACE in 2010 – even if they aren’t particularly keen for the same reasons as Ms Tymoshenko.

Normally I can see method in madness, but I have to admit I am struggling to see how this will help her garner the popular vote with presidential elections on the immediate horizon – or endear Batkivshchyna under her leadership to the Ukrainian constituency when RADA elections eventually come to pass.

 

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