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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

How many shadow cabinets will there be?

17 October, 2006 - 00:00

Our politicians have a talent for reducing any idea to absurdity. Our Ukraine recently decided to form its own shadow cabinet of ministers, the second of its kind. Not so long ago, Yulia Tymoshenko announced the intention to form her own shadow cabinet. She even provided a detailed description of its rights and duties in the draft law “On the Opposition.”

What Lady Yu failed to take into account was that there can be several shadow governments in the realities of today’s Ukraine. According to political scientist Vadym Karasiov, the Presidential Secretariat and the National Security and Defense Council can also be shadow cabinets of a kind. So that makes four. In Ukrainian politics, however, absurdity often involves serious intentions. Very likely, this whole absurd shadow cabinet story has a serious goal: to thwart the official activity of Tymoshenko’s shadow government.

However, Karasiov does not think that everything boils down to a counter-game against Tymoshenko. “Our Ukraine also needs something to start with, and since Ukraine has no experience of normal opposition activity, everyone starts copying what other countries have achieved. There is a long history of shadow cabinets in the UK. So why not form a shadow cabinet of our own? As a character in a popular film once said, what about challenging our William Shakespeare?

“Since Ukraine has no experience of an effective opposition (there has been no opposition as such in parliament because only majorities could be formed according to the current law), the idea of a shadow government has surfaced. Some people probably think it is some sort of magic wand, and one wave of it will allow a political force to thunder a little,” Krasiov told The Day.

Meanwhile, the BYuT is not taking Our Ukraine’s attempts to form a shadow cabinet seriously. The members of this bloc think Our Ukraine is incapable of decisive action. “I do not regard the steps aimed at forming some kind of opposition based on Our Ukraine seriously,” reflects Volodymyr Polokhalo, a BYuT-affiliated political scientist. “By all accounts, Our Ukraine will never again be a united force. Their inner conflicts are still acute, so they pose no serious threat to the government. The populace is also no longer interested in Our Ukraine as a bloc. And what interest can there be if the level of support is a mere 5 percent? So, all this talk about a shadow cabinet is a sham.”

Nevertheless, low popularity ratings are no obstacle for Our Ukraine to struggle for the title of chief oppositionist. Tymoshenko has announced the formation of an inter-faction opposition unit, while Our Ukraine is establishing the European Ukraine confederation. Ten political parties have been invited to join this confederation, but there is no BYuT member among them. Ihor Hryniv, deputy leader of the Reforms and Order Party, said recently that there is no sense in forming an opposition unit without Tymoshenko’s bloc.

“My position is as follows: if we are really speaking about consolidating society, the decisive moment is the consolidation of the forces that have now rallied around the president and all those who, one way or another, are leaning towards Yulia Tymoshenko,” Hryviv said. He also disagrees with Roman Bezsmertny’s view that the Declaration of National Unity could lay the ideological groundwork for the opposition unit because this document is “the object of a compromise between the Party of Regions and Our Ukraine, while all the other parties should take a more clear-cut and comprehensible position.”

Bezsmertny hinted that Our Ukraine and the BYuT have discussed the possibility of joint actions. But so far the only clear thing is that the main task of the pro-presidential bloc is to forestall Yulia Tymoshenko’s monopoly on the opposition.

By Olena YAKHNO, The Day