People’s Front faction leaves coalition, preventing parliament early dismissal

17 May 2019

Ukraine’s coalition government disintegrated this morning when the parliamentary faction of the People’s Front party, chaired by former PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk, announced it is formally leaving the government it formed with the Petro Poroshenko Bloc in April 2016. On a de facto basis, the coalition has lacked the 226 minimum number of MPs required for many than a year owing to MPs leaving the two factions. The parliament’s website lists the current number at 215 MPs between the two factions.

 

The coalition’s disintegration prompts a 30-day period to form a new parliamentary majority among the current six factions, during which President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy can’t dismiss parliament. Zelenskiy also won’t be able to act after that month since the law forbids the president from dismissing parliament in the six months leading up to the day the newly elected MPs take their oath, which is early December. Therefore, the Cabinet and parliament will work until a new government is formed after the elections.

 

Zenon Zawada: This move makes sense for everyone in parliament, especially since early elections would have given Zelenskiy the largest faction in parliament, according to polls, which would helped his plans reform enormously. But this development is negative for the country as whole. Zelenskiy is now stuck with a hostile parliament that will work to undermine him and claim he’s incompetent in their parties’ election campaigns. Meanwhile, Zelenskiy’s People Servant party will shift blame for all of his alleged failures on the parliamentary parties.

 

In this inevitably nasty conflict, Zelenskiy has the advantage of casting himself as the political underdog being sabotaged by the corrupt old guard. His party will gain a decent result in the October vote, but not as strong if the elections were held a few months earlier.

 

It’s possible a few positive reforms will be achieved this year, but unfortunately, the political environment will otherwise be unproductive, toxic and at times embarrassing for the country. So today’s gambit marks the latest squandered opportunity for widescale, accelerated reforms in Ukraine.

 

Any new coalition government to emerge must involve three factions, at minimum. So it’s possible a new political configuration will emerge, including a new parliamentary leadership and a new Cabinet. Or it’s possible no new coalition emerges and everyone will remain place.

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