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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

Prime minister’s portfolio: five most likely contenders

Parliament can elect a new prime minister as soon as February 13.
13 February, 2014 - 11:41
Photo by Mykola TYMCHENKO, The Day

Parliament can elect a new prime minister as soon as February 13. The Day has learned from reliable sources that the Party of Regions MPs have received an SMS to that effect. The message instructed the MPs to be present at a special session of parliament to be called for February 13. No reason for it was specified in the message, but given even statements that were heard from the stage of the 10th People’s Assembly on Maidan, is not hard to guess that the session will be electing a prime minister.

Of all the versions put forward by political scientists, five candidates for the office of head of the Ukrainian Cabinet now look most likely to get the portfolio. Some candidates suit the president, others the Party of Regions, and others again the opposition. However, there are candidates who have a good shot at the premiership and support from Europe or Russia. So the most likely candidates to head the Ukrainian government are Andrii Kliuiev, Yurii Boiko, Serhii Tihipko, Petro Poroshenko, and Arsenii Yatseniuk. These candidates are discussed by the political elite and political scientists.

Kliuiev has a great desire to get the portfolio and is liked by the president, but does not have support of some Party of Regions MPs belonging to Rinat Akhmetov’s and Dmytro Firtash’s groups, and is not very suitable for the opposition and Europe.

Boiko has the Kremlin as his patron (Oleksandr Sushko posted on Facebook “it is said that Vladimir Putin pointed his finger at Boiko. Let us look for their actions now”), the support of some Party of Regions MPs from the Firtash-Liovochkin group, but is not very suitable for the opposition and Europe.

Poroshenko and Yatseniuk have the support of some opposition forces, the US and Europe (as we know from phone conversation of Victoria Nuland and the US ambassador in Kyiv Geoffrey Pyatt, which was intercepted and leaked to the media) and probably the Akhmetov and Firtash groups, too, but do not suit the president, Russia, and most of the Party of Regions at all.

Let us recall that according to the Law of Ukraine “On the Cabinet of Ministers” parliament needs 226 votes to approve a candidate as prime minister. As shown by all the previous sessions of the Verkhovna Rada, the opposition has not got the number to do it on their own. So it looks like the new prime minister will be a compromise between the opposition and the government, or the parliament will again be compelled to toe the line, as it was in the case of vote for Yurii Miroshnychenko’s amnesty law. Of course, to get 226 votes by compulsion, the Presidential Administration will desperately need support of the Communist faction, that is, their Russian masters. Under such circumstances, both the newly appointed head of the Presidential Administration Kliuiev and deputy prime minister in outgoing Mykola Azarov’s Cabinet Boiko may well become the new prime minister. Kliuiev looks especially likely, as he has extensive experience in negotiating with the Communists.

There is another option. Split in the Party of Regions, much bandied about in the media over the past two weeks, makes appointing Tihipko as prime minister a viable option. He can get votes of the Regionnaires as well as of some opposition legislators, and support from the West if he goes on with his “opposition” rhetoric...

By the way, some may benefit from Serhii Liovochkin and Viktor Pinchuk’s role in this scenario of Tihipko’s premiership, but Viktor Yanukovych, who already had to endure these games in his administration, would definitely find it devaluing his positions in the balance of power.

To the point, Tihipko issued a statement on February 10 that neither he nor his “colleagues are going to leave the Party of Regions” (is not it reminiscent of the story of Liovochkin’s resignation?). However, there was no clue who these “colleagues” were. The rest of his comment looks like quite a decent bid for the premiership. Here is the full text of the statement, which was issued by Tihipko’s press office on February 10: “In these difficult times, we will still remain close to our party members across the country, to people who have trusted us to represent their interests and fight for better future for our country. However, we recognize that levels of corruption at all levels of government are unacceptable, and the Cabinet’s work to overcome the economic problems in Ukraine and improve people’s lives has not been effective, as they actually failed at it. Our main enemies are embezzlers, corruption, irresponsibility, and inefficiency. I am confident that the Party of Regions has the strength to cope with these challenges.” It is signed with just “MP Serhii Tihipko.”

Finally, we come to the key issue of all this fight for premiership. Which of these people will be accepted as prime minister by Maidan protesters? After all, the whole mess with sacking the Cabinet started at the request of the protesters. Politicians have succeeded in promoting the idea that the resignation of the Cabinet would solve the crisis in which our country finds itself... But will the protesters be happy with their victory?

By Alla DUBROVYK, The Day