The Opposition - Looking forward

So the opposition parties in Ukraine have accepted the election results as called by the CEC, with the exception of 5 seats that are to be re-run.  One presumes that having done so, the call for the elections to “represent the genuine will of the Ukrainian voters” as per the EU press statement of two days ago has at least been met - if that is all that has been met.

Thus 5 more years of opposition awaits them beginning sometime mid-December 2012 when the new RADA gets sworn in.

Not that the opposition is united over the idea of accepting the CEC results.  Anatoliy Hrytsenko who has advocated not taking up the opposition mandates en masse for weeks still believes that is the right course of action for the opposition parties a position I outlined last week.

In fact, Mr Hrytsenko has refused to sign a document drafted amongst the opposition parties relating to opposition strategy and goals in the forthcoming parliament, as his blog makes clear.

Further, despite the damning language used in the preamble to the opposition strategy and goals statement in the link above, on twitter at the very same time the opposition direction was being published, Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, another opposition leader wrote:


 Я вдячний особисто кожному,хто був біля ЦВК ці 8 днів і ночей.Не все вийшло як гадалося,але це перший крок,зроблений для майбутніх перемог.” - 9:00 PM - 12 Nov 12

In short, he personally thanks everyone the CEC despite the fact things didn’t happen as smoothly as they could have.

Not a particularly promising or united start when all opposition parties do not feel able to sign up to the agreed strategies and goals or rally behind statements condemning the CEC.

That said, when looking at the opposition goals, worthy or not as they may be, the opposition clearly have not got to grips with what being in opposition means - and that is that they are the minority - thus very rarely will they have sufficient cross party support to pass any laws or amendments to laws that they want to.

Their demands, if presented as demands, will simply be rebuffed.  They will need to be far more nimble, sly and persuasive to achieve any goals they set given the fact they are the minority.  Timing is also crucial as to what and when they submit anything for consideration - something I will come on to.

So let us look at their stated goals, none of which appear deliverable from the opposition benches.

The impeachment of President Yanukovych.  Firstly there is currently no mechanism to impeach a Ukrainian president.  Therefore a law must first be drafted, then adopted - meaning 226 RADA MPs or more must vote for it, a number the opposition parties fall far short of - and then signed by the president and published before it can come into effect.

Any new law could hardly be applied retrospectively if the opposition were to expect any support from the international community.

However, if such a law is to stand any chance of becoming reality, the timing of its submission to the RADA for consideration is crucial.  To simply go away now, draft it, submit it and expect it to pass so soon after an election the opposition lost would be stupid.  More guile is needed than that.

You will recall not long ago I wrote about the “Who’s in and who’s out” within the Party of Regions structure.  For such a law as one creating a method to impeach a president to get through the RADA, it would require some support from within the PoR/Communist coalition.  That will mean the support of those “who are out” and those who are controlled by “those who are out”.

If Poroshenko and Khoroshkovsky are still out when such a law is presented to the RADA, given their considerable media holdings and wealth, should such a law be proposed much closer to the presidential elections, it may find some unlikely and very public support.

Add to that the large number of “independent MPs” about to enter the RADA that were financed by the oligarchy from both sides in their campaigns, those MPs are far more likely to tow the line of their oligarchy sponsors than that of the president.

If the wrong noses are out of joint close to the presidential elections, then that is likely to be the optimum time to submit a law outlining a method of presidential impeachment.  It would stand far more chance of gaining maximum publicity and covert oligarchy support via their owned “independent MPs”.

That does not take into account any international meddling and supportive noises towards any rich and powerful PoR politicians currently “out” who may consider running against Yanukovych themselves - with or without PoR party mandate.  Such meddling if it comes, will not become energetic until much closer to the presidential elections as it is only then that the abilities of the “in’s” and “out’s” are obvious when it comes to “external support”.

Naturally, I do not expect the feckless opposition to consider such things.  I anticipate a draft law on presidential impeachment submitting almost immediately, thus rebuffed, and for the opposition to say “Well, we tried”.  Another false dawn for their voters.

Next they propose to release Yulia Tymoshenko and other political prisoners - somehow.  It is already clear that the only way she (and others) will be released is via an ECfHR ruling demanding her release.  Should she be released it will have absolutely nothing to do with the opposition, but the discharge of the obligations of Ukraine to the ECfHR.  There is no guarantee that Ukraine will discharge its obligations to the ECfHR any more than any other nation does - and many don’t.

They also want an electoral system with open lists.  Quite right - but in this last election the party lists were made public as to who stood in what numbered position on the party list.  The constituency seats by their very nature were open and people knew who they were voting for.

Ergo, if Party X won 50 seats by proportional representation, I can look at the published list and know that those candidates numbered 1 - 50 will now be RADA MPs - plus those from Party X who won constituency seats.  That seems to me to be quite open already.

Then we have a list of heads the opposition wish to sever.  The Prime Minister, Minister of Internal Affairs, heads of all law enforcement agencies, the Attorney General etc.  Simply wishful thinking, as the only way those people will go is if they either fall out of favour with the presidential administration, or the opposition had won - which they didn’t.

Gaining cross party support to remove these people would probably prove far harder than gaining support for a well timed impeachment law, as nobody within the PoR has anything to gain by their removal unless they happen to be next in line for those particular thrones.

Next, the personal attendance at the RADA of MPs if they are to vote for a bill.  This is definitely a case of the pot calling the kettle, but it is a principle that I certainly support 100%.  At present there is a cross party tradition of all colours and political persuasion, with very few exceptions when it comes to specific MPs, that their voting cards are given to others if they cannot or will not attend the RADA to vote in person, so that their vote is cast.

It is known here as “piano playing” when MPs run around the voting terminals with other MPs voting cards in order to register the votes of those absent for whatever reason.

Some leaders of the opposition who have signed up to this strategy are historically guilty of this themselves and thus they will henceforth have to lead by example or be very quickly named and shamed I suspect.

Last but not least, the usual drafting of anti-corruption legislation of which there is plenty already - it is just not effectively implemented.  More anti-corruption legislation will change nothing.  A drive to effectively implement what already exists would go a long way though.

And that is the opposition strategy and goals looking forwards according to the opposition themselves.  All of which quite clearly cannot be achieved - at least on their own - and so feckless are they that I do not expect them to have the patience or cunning to build solid support with those on the other side to get any of it done.  Especially so when Yatseniuk, Klitschko and Tyahnybok will have one eye on the 2015 presidential elections and cannot afford to stand in the shadows of one another for too long.

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