By Rostislav Ishchenko
Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard
The Rada agreed to opt for an election, some deputies are going to challenge the constitutionality of the decree of the president, and the parliament refused to change electoral laws.
It’s funny. Deputies did not show even conditional resistance in relation to the most basic point – the question of dissolution. But they rigidly opposed the electoral laws that are of secondary importance. It is possible to argue as much as possible about the fundamental differences between the majority, proportional, and mixed systems, and opened and the closed lists, but the Ukrainian reality is such that large oligarchical groups anyway control both the electoral process and the Rada. The most part of majoritarians are all the same elected under a party brand and enter the corresponding faction, and periodically arising groups of “non-factional” deputies de facto serve the power as a reserve of votes for the “slippery” but necessary laws that it are not comme il faut for deputies from the coalition to vote for. Besides this, “non-factional” groups give to the president extra room for manoeuvre in relations with the parliament.
It should be noted that it’s not a coincidence that Zelensky decided to dissolve the Rada. He repeats a similar step taken in the past by Poroshenko. The only difference is that the parliament dissolved by Poroshenko was supposed to work for two more years, while Zelensky wins only four additional months by dissolving the Rada. I will remind that after the coup of 2014 the parliament brought back the Constitution of 2004, which seriously limited the possibilities of the president. In fact, the head of state can really carry out his powers only in case of control over parliament.
It is precisely for this reason that the two presidents elected after the coup (Poroshenko and Zelensky) immediately sought to change the Rada’s structure, having entered their own people into it. Poroshenko’s experience – whose “Bloc of Petro Poroshenko” lost to “People’s Front” a proportional part of the 2014 election (having received one place less), but completely outplayed all parties in majority districts (69 places, besides the fact that “People’s Front”, which took 2nd place in the majority, received only 18 mandates) – shows that the newly elected president rather easily forms a large faction in parliament. If Poroshenko succeeded to receive a faction of 132 deputies, then Zelensky has every chance to enter in parliament no less than 200 (and perhaps, for the first time in the history of Ukraine, receive a one-party majority, without needing to create a coalition). It must be kept in mind that today’s brand “Servants of the People” will be used willingly by the majority in most regions of Ukraine, because it gives excellent chances of a victory in a standoff with any opponent. So for Zelensky it is by and large all the same if the election will take place using the purely proportional system or the mixed one.
Apparently, the introduction of a purely proportional system and decreasing the electoral threshold was one of the conditions of the oligarchical consensus that allowed Zelensky to hold an inauguration on May 20th and to dissolve the Rada. In this case, up to 8 parties should enter the parliament, instead of 4-5 (in the existing system). I.e., practically every oligarch received its representation in the Rada. If the issue of reform was principal for Zelensky (Kolomoisky), then the necessary work would’ve been carried out in the Rada by deputies who, like little rabbits, agreed on dissolution, and who in the same way would also vigorously and cheerfully adopt the new electoral law. Eventually, it was possible to hold back the publication of the decree of Zelensky on the dissolution of the Rada and to curb the resistance deputies. But Zelensky said that he would win the parliamentary election even under the old law. He is absolutely right, for reasons I explained above.
It seems that Kolomoisky, via the Rada’s hands, simply dumped his partners in the oligarchical consensus. At the same time, formally he is not guilty. After all, it is the parliament that did not vote for changes. After all, Zelensky introduced the promised law. Now 3-4 parties (from those who could break the threshold) stay on the sidelines of the Rada, and, most importantly, their owners/oligarchs don’t receive their representation in legislature. As the practice of all the previous elections that took place in accordance with the mixed system shows, the pro-presidential force enters into parliament the absolute (in comparison with other parties) majority of majoritarians. Also, many independent candidates (in 2014 there were 90) – at least a half of who either join the pro-presidential political force or actively cooperate with it – also break the threshold.
In this situation, Zelensky (Kolomoisky) can expect even to be able to create a one-party majority. As a last resort, the strong and most numerous faction “Servants of the People” can choose any of a potential three partners in the coalition (from Tymoshenko to Boyko, including Poroshenko). At the same time, an association of these three factions against Zelensky is almost unfeasible. And once again I will emphasise that the refusal of the parliament to vote for a purely proportional system, with the threshold being reduced to 3%, creates magnificent conditions for the formation of the one-party majority “Servants of the People”. Kolomoisky, with his inherent grace, used his enemies for his purposes, and moreover – in such a way that they did not even understand what is happening.
I think that if “People’s Front” and Parubiy will carry out their threat and will challenge the constitutionality of the presidential decree on the dissolution of parliament, they also will not be stopped by anyone. It’s just that the Constitutional Court will not force the decision-making process, having dragged it out for years. It is possible to laugh as much as necessary at the legal illiteracy of Parubiy, who “doesn’t know” that the legality of the decree is challenged in the Supreme Court, but I think that the Constitutional Court didn’t arise here by coincidence. And again, Kolomoisky’s enemies defend his interests, even without guessing it.
The matter is that influence on Zelensky can also be lost. Now the “young team” [of Zelensky – ed], the US State Department, and rival oligarchs try to push Kolomoisky away. Zelensky is an ambitious guy and he can try to play his own game. The case of the illegality of the decree lying in the Constitutional Court is beautiful insurance. After all, if the Supreme Court recognizes the illegality of the decree of the president, then what can be done, at most, is to stop an early election. At the same time, Zelensky will perfectly promote himself via the “counteraction of the anti-people parliament against the people’s president” and will receive a pocket parliament a few months later (this isn’t essential). If the decree is recognised as unconstitutional, then this will be a reason for impeachment (since the president will have violated the Constitution). The Constitutional Court can put an inquiry about the constitutionality of the decree into the queue and not consider it for years. But if it is required, then it will be possible to activate the process and receive the necessary decision.
Thus, the last decisions made by the dissolved Rada stipulate the establishment of Kolomoisky’s control over all the branches of power by the end of the current year. Having received control over the Rada, he will receive control also over the government, and should his pocket president escape from his control, he will have an opportunity at any time to receive a decision about the illegality of Zelensky’s actions and to start the procedure of his renunciation of power. Well, and the main guarantor of all this grandeur is Arsen Avakov, with his Ministry of Internal Affairs, National Guard, and militants. He faded into the background recently, but he controls the situation. Today, Avakov and Kolomoisky are equally interested in a union. In the long term Kolomoisky, of course, can try to also abandon Avakov, but today they need each other, and their tandem is strong.