An impasse in the Ukrainian parliament took place on June 27, when
lawmakers from the Party of Regions led by former Prime Minister Viktor
Yanukovych blocked the rostrum in and entrance to the Verkhovna Rada
hall, thus preventing lawmakers of the coalition from opening a
Several days earlier, on June 22, the three allies in the
2004 Orange Revolution -- the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc (129 seats), Our
Ukraine (81 seats), and the Socialist Party (33 seats) -- signed a
coalition deal, following three months of negotiations. Regarding the
distribution of top government posts, Yuliya Tymoshenko was to assume
the post of prime minister, while Petro Poroshenko from Our Ukraine was
to become parliament speaker. The Socialist Party was entitled under
the deal to the post of first deputy prime minister.
Some of the
would-be coalition partners were visibly unhappy about the June deal to
recreate the Orange government that collapsed in September 2005, after
then-Prime Minister Tymoshenko accused then-National Defense and
Security Council Secretary Poroshenko of corrupt practices and
encroaching upon her executive prerogatives. Tymoshenko and Poroshenko,
the fiercest enemies in the 2005 feud, were again to assume top
government posts, and many saw in this a seed for an inevitable future
Socialist Party leader Moroz,
who aspired to become parliament speaker after the March 26
parliamentary elections, was also apparently unhappy with the fact that
this post was offered to Poroshenko.
And there was the Party of
Regions, which unsuccessfully tried to strike a coalition deal with Our
Ukraine in mid-June. After it became clear that the former Orange
allies might recreate their governing alliance, the Party of Regions
launched a blockade of the parliamentary hall. The blockade was in
protest against what the Yanukovych-led party saw as an unlawful scheme
to appoint the prime minister and parliament speaker in a single, open
vote, and against the coalition's failure to offer the opposition
sufficient positions on legislative committees.
the Party of Regions agreed to lift its parliamentary blockade on July
6, after reportedly reaching an agreement with the Orange Revolution
allies. According to this agreement, the election of parliamentary
leadership had to be conducted in a secret ballot, and the opposition
-- that is, the Party of Regions and the Communist Party -- were
offered leadership positions on 50 percent of parliamentary committees.
New parliament speaker Oleksandr Moroz (Ukrinform)
When everybody thought that the Verkhovna Rada would proceed with
approving Poroshenko as speaker, Moroz was suddenly proposed as a
candidate for this post. Poroshenko withdrew his candidacy, calling
Moroz's move a betrayal of the coalition deal reached on June 22. Moroz
was approved as parliament speaker with 238 votes exclusively from his
party, the Party of Regions, and the Communist Party.
"There is a
new coalition, let them work, while we will be in opposition," Our
Ukraine leader Roman Bezsmertnyy commented on what happened in the
Verkhovna Rada on July 6.
Yuliya Tymoshenko did not comment directly on the election of Moroz, adding only that she does not understand what is going on.
Moroz explained his election as parliament speaker by his intention to
heal the west-east division in Ukrainian society deepened by the 2004
Orange Revolution and the 2006 parliamentary elections. "We must reduce
this tension, which has been artificially created, we must end the
split we now see in Ukraine. I'm sure we can overcome this problem. I'm
even more sure that we can bring together those who see themselves as
the victors and those who see themselves as the vanquished," Moroz said.
Moroz is going to achieve this goal is not immediately clear. The
Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, with its political-support base in western
Ukraine, has repeatedly and firmly declared that it will not enter any
governing coalition with the Party of Regions, which is entrenched in
eastern and southern Ukraine.
Most likely, Moroz is expecting
that a new "grand" coalition would include Our Ukraine along with the
Party of Regions and the Socialist Party. Only such an alliance could
give some credibility to Moroz's claim about healing Ukraine's
Could Our Ukraine enter a ruling coalition with
its fiercest political opponent, the Party of Regions? Such an option
was suggested by Our Ukraine itself in mid-June, when the
pro-presidential bloc turned to Yanukovych's party to discuss the
formation of a new government. There is reportedly a significant group
of politicians in Our Ukraine, including caretaker Prime Minister Yuriy
Yekhanurov, who prefer running a government with the Party of Regions
rather than the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc.
What other options are available for Ukraine?
ruling coalition could be created by the Party of Regions, the
Socialist Party, and the Communist Party. The three parties jointly
control 240 votes in the 450-seat legislature. But such a coalition
would hardly contribute anything substantial to healing the Ukrainian
If Ukrainian lawmakers fail to approve a new
prime minister and cabinet by July 25, President Viktor Yushchenko will
have the right to disband the Verkhovna Rada and call for new
elections. But last week, Yushchenko ruled out such a possibility.
"There will be no repeat elections. It is a too expensive pleasure for
the country and an inadequate price for the ambitions of some
politicians," he said in a radio address on July 1.
Rada on July 7 postponed its session until next week, apparently not
knowing how to resolve its coalition-building conundrum. It seems that
the Ukrainian political elite is now waiting for a word from President
Yushchenko. It was he who reportedly advised Our Ukraine in June
against forging a coalition with the Party of Regions. Perhaps this
time, in order to avoid repeat elections, he will urge Our Ukraine to
take this step.
Campaign stands on a Kyiv street in ahead of the March 26 elections (RFE/RL)
RELOADED DEMOCRACY: On March 16, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States OLEH SHAMSHUR held a briefing at RFE/RL's Washington office. Shamshur discussed the political and economic achievements of the last year and the political environment in the run-up to the legislative elections. "Many people would say it was a year lost," he said. "And I would categorically, even definitely, object to that. I think that it was a year not lost; it was a difficult year; it was the learning period when we were learning, or in some instances, relearning to act under the democratic rules and procedures. Some mistakes which were made were avoidable, some were hardly avoidable, but in any case it was very important period for Ukraine as a country, Ukraine as a new, or if you wish, rediscovered, reloaded democracy."
Listen to the complete presentation (about 60 minutes):
Click on the image for background and archived articles about Ukraine's March 26 elections.
Click on the image to see RFE/RL's coverage of the Ukrainian elections in Ukrainian.