Last Friday the Ukrainian parliament hosted quite a representative round table on the formation of a governmental-parliamentary coalition. To discuss parliamentary support for the Cabinet, a problem of paramount political importance, the forum gathered not only those who can theorize on this matter but also those who make decisions and are capable of influencing Verkhovna Rada voting. To tell the truth, the audience was a bit disappointed over the absence of Our Ukraine’s Roman Bezsmertny, the author of bitter diatribes against Acting Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko. What the participants expected was, if not a scandal, then at least an emotional exchange of words between him and BYuT’s Anatoly Matviyenko. Still, the debate was interesting even without Mr. Bezsmertny.
Practically all the speakers opined, to one extent or another, that neither the formation nor the performance of the new government would be a politically easy thing to so. The point is that President Viktor Yushchenko is appointing as prime minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, a person who cannot in principle suit everybody. It is not only the new opposition that takes a far from cheerful attitude to Mrs. Tymoshenko. Besides, the winner is not in a position to form a majority solely on the basis of his own team — he will inevitably have to invite centrist MPs, now the “parliamentary quagmire.” Therefore, it is utterly impossible now to form a strong, steadfast and, what is more, ideology-based, pro-governmental coalition in the Verkhovna Rada.
Among those who believe that a long-term ideology-based majority will be formed, by all accounts, after the 2006 parliamentary elections was Mr. Matviyenko. Before that, in his opinion, the parliament should establish a majority cemented by the idea of creating favorable conditions for the new government. The people’s deputy also said that a parliamentary-governmental coalition should be formed after a prime minister has been voted into office and presented his/her program. Otherwise, this will be a coalition for the sake of portfolio distribution.
Ex-president Leonid Kravchuk thinks that a coalition is in theory possible today. What stand in the way is lack of unity among the winners. Mr. Kravchuk noted that the main critics of the government now being formed are not the SDPU (O) or other oppositional parties but representatives of the new leadership, who have unleashed a mud-slinging campaign against one another. He apparently meant disputes and quarrels over the premier’s portfolio, in which the above-mentioned Bezsmertny is one of the key figures. “As an oppositionist, I am supposed to be glad about a situation like this. But I cannot be glad because wrangles among the new powers-that-be also affect the interests of the entire country,” Mr. Kravchuk said. Instead of thinking about the solution of urgent problems, for example, in the financial sphere, the winners are busy vying for key governmental offices, Mr. Kravchuk added and wished the new leadership stop wrangling over portfolios.
Experts have repeatedly expressed the opinion that the Socialists might join the opposition because of, among other things, Viktor Yushchenko’s failure to satisfy the SPU’s demands for cabinet posts. SPU spokesman Mykola Rudkivsky, on the one hand, seems to have rejected this view, saying that the Socialists will even support a government without their representatives as long as it meets the fundamental points in the SPU’s program. On the other hand, Mr. Rudkivsky again demonstrated his party’s hearty appetite for governmental offices in charge of finances, the fuel-and-energy complex, and internal affairs. A round table participant later opined that the prospect of getting these portfolios is the only thing that keeps the Socialists from going oppositional. Conversely, Regions of Ukraine faction member Volodymyr Zubanov, representing the team of the ex-candidate for the presidency, Viktor Yanukovych, urged the participants not to consider one political force or another as part of the opposition before they hold a congress. Incidentally, Mr. Zubanov revealed, much to the embarrassment of his fellow party men, that Donetsk coal miners highly praise Mrs. Tymoshenko in private, “after a glass or two,” because she “once put things in order in the energy sector.”
As the round table was coming to a close, the participants presumed, half-jokingly, that the parliamentary majority that will support the Tymoshenko cabinet would mainly consist of... those who did not belong to People’s Strength. Last Friday VR officially recorded Pres. Yushchenko’s presentation of Mrs. Tymoshenko’s candidature. The matter may well be put to a vote this week.