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07/22/2006 | Stefan Seitz
----- Forwarded message -----
> Dear friends,
> July 06 2006 at 11 p. m. I as the leader of the Socialist Party of
> Ukraine was elected as the Speaker of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by 238
> votes out of 450 deputies. This election caused the controversial
> reaction and comments by different political forces in Ukraine and
> abroad that prompts for me as the important political actor ex-officio
> to provide the breakdown of the situation. Please find attached the
> relevant document. The SPU considers this analyses as the preliminary
> step to the visit of the Party Board to the SI Headquartes with the
> to lead the negotiations on the matter.
> We'll keep you informed.
> With best regards
> Vitaliy Shybko
> International Secretary of the Socialist Party of Ukraine


Dear Friends and Colleagues!

In the current heavy and explosive situation in the different parts of the world, we cannot estimate how much information on the recent developments in Ukraine you receive and how easily you can understand such developments. To say that the situation in Ukraine is difficult is to say nothing. The country is once again on the verge of political, economic and social crisis, and this happens only one and a half year after the victory of the democratic forces in the Orange revolution!

Different political forces in Ukraine have different vision of the situation and the possible ways out of it. The Socialist Party of Ukraine (SPU) has its vision as well. This vision has recently become the target of the unmerciful attacks and criticism, which are, highly likely, shared by some of you as well. Not trying to convince anybody in our rightness, we, nevertheless, see it as our duty to provide you with detailed background information on the position and actions of the SPU.

Firstly, we consider it as a very important task to point out to certain incorrect stereotypes and generalisations which are present in the Western common discourse and media coverage as far as Ukrainian events and personalities are concerned. The global picture existing in the West in which Yulia Tymoshenko is a romantic hero, struggling for democracy, Yushchenko a strong leader fighting for the right cause only, and other orangists, like Moroz and the SPU, following their policies without asking questions, has never been true at all. Nor is it true that everybody in the Communist party or in the Party of Regions is a crook. Basically the Orange revolution was about the freedom of speech, free media, free elections and a parliamentary democracy. The first three essentials are met and are save now. It is exactly that transformation of powers from the presidency to parliament that has been at stake ever since it was negotiated in the early days of December 2004, just some weeks before the victory of our common candidate Yushchenko. The transformation of Ukraine to a parliamentary democracy is still an ongoing process, a process in which roles have changed. Yushchenko and Tymoshenko changed sides and their vision of the political future of Ukraine (towards continuity of the presidential power dominance compared to those of the government and especially, of the parliament) almost immediately after acquiring sufficient power weight in the elections and this is the essence of the conflict that divides the parties of Yushchenko and Tymoshenko on the one hand and the SPU on the other.

In principle, the SPU played the decisive role in Yushchenkos election as the president, whom the party supported by joining the democratic coalition on the conditions of recognition and respect by other members of the coalition of the SPU own programme.

After the victory of Victor Yushchenko in the presidential elections on December 26, 2004, the new Ukrainian government was formed by the coalition of the three parties (Our Ukraine of Victor Yushchenko; Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko and the SPU), which got the name of the Orange (democratic) coalition. Yulia Tymoshenko became the prime-minister. The Socialists had in that government three ministerial positions and the post of the Chief of the State Property Fund. However, that government lasted only seven months and was dismissed by the president Yushchenko in September 2005. The major reason for dismissal, as it was expressed by the president, was unsatisfactory work of Yulia Tymoshenko as the head of the government, which resulted in economic slowdown and political tensions inside the coalition. The cabinet of Yulia Tymoshenko led the country to the artificially created gasoline, sugar and meat crises. The personal opposition between Yulia Tymoshenko and Petro Poroshenko (then the Secretary of the National Security and Defence), accompanied the governmental crisis with Poroshenko trying to set up his position above that of the prime-minister.

The new government was formed without the participation of the Tymoshenkos Bloc. Yuriy Ekhanurov from the Our Ukraine party became the new prime-minister. The Socialists continued cooperation with the new government in the same composition of ministers. The minister of interior, representative of the SPU, conducted the thoroughful revision of the police service organisation, the major result of which became considerable reduction in bribery among police personnel. Unfortunately, the Interior ministry failed to examine activities of some high-rank officials, mainly due to inactivity of the Prosecutor General office. The State Property Fund headed by Valentyna Semenyuk (SPU) prevented the doubtful re-privatization, as she took a path of decision-making in the courts (in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation).

In January 2006 Tymoshenkos Bloc in the alliance with the opposition parties in the Parliament, in particular with the Party of Regions, the Communists and others initiated dismissal of the Ekhanurovs government on the grounds of ineffective position during the gas crisis with Russia. However, due to legal collisions, which at the time were known to everybody (going into effect of the political reform), the new government could not be formed prior to the parliamentary election, which was due on March 26, 2006.

As the new election campaign approached, the orange team representatives failed to form a single electoral bloc and Yulia Tymoshenko was quick to declare the failure and to lodge her attack against the president and Our Ukraine-headed government. Now she claimed to be the main opposition leader to Yushchenko, actively criticizing the President and the Cabinet. 4 out of 10 former orange allies failed to overcome the 3% barrier, others joined either Tymoshenko Bloc or Our Ukraine.

During the election campaign some political forces opposed the political reform, launched back in December 2005, as the key initiative of the Socialist Party and its major condition for joining the Orange coalition. The reform has been and continues aiming at development of the democratic processes, adjustment of the state power to the European standards, the growth of the parliamentary and the governmental political weight as counterbalances to initially practically unlimited presidential power.

March 26, 2006 parliamentary elections were overall recognised as fair and democratic. The Party of Regions (of the former presidential candidate Victor Yanukovich) came the first with 32% of votes, which gave it 186 out of 450 seats in the national Parliament. Tymoshenkos Bloc was the second with 22% of votes and 129 parliamentary seats. Our Ukraine got 14% and 81 seats respectively; the SPU 6% and 33 seats and the Communists 4% and 21 seats.

Voters shown the regional preferences: the South and the East of the country supported the Party of Regions, the West and the Centre was in favour of Yulia Tymoshenko. A part of the West turned out to be the pro-Our Ukraine. The communists lost more than 40 seats; SPU saved its positions throughout the country and even raised its representation in the local councils.

Such results of the elections meant that no single party had a necessary absolute majority of 226 seats.

The highly successful results of Yulia Tymoshenko bloc came as a complete shock for the representatives of Our Ukraine and they put the coalition negotiations on the dragging path (Our Ukraine believed that they were able to gain absolute majority of votes as compared to their coalition partners). At the end, the SPU-Our Ukraine-Yulia Tymoshenko coalition treaty was signed, as the result of 3-month intensive work and negotiations. The treaty contained the principles of work, the priorities and arbitration procedures. No names and no positions were mentioned. The SPU did its best to avoid any talks about the positions and names until the treaty was signed. The leader of the Ukrainian Socialists Olexandr Moroz even lifted his nomination to the post of the parliamentary speaker. At the same time, the Tymoshenkos Bloc continued pressing and insisting on its leaders ambitions to the prime-minister seat.

In the early July 2006, Tymoshenkos Bloc, Our Ukraine and SPU agreed upon the candidacy of Tymoshenko for the prime-minister post. The negotiations on Poroshenkos candidacy as the parliamentary speaker came to the deadlock. Socialists have immediately issued their concerns and Olexandr Moroz has announced that he could not guarantee full support of his MPs for such arrangements because Petro Poroshenko is the personal protégé of the president Yushchenko, with whom he has family ties. Even some representatives of Our Ukraine stood against the authoritarian position of the President in this question.

The situation once again has reached a deadlock:

The leaders of the former democratic opposition to the president Kuchma have become now the prospective leaders of the country, whose power ambitions threat with new political, social and economic crises. As Oleksandr Moroz underlined in his interview, referring to the critical situation last autumn when the president decided to dismiss the first Orange government, we could face the new September crisis next September
Thus, it became clear that there were no arrangements within the Orange coalition acceptable for all its member-parties;
Failing to create a government within a defined term the parliament would face a call for a new election. (Initially, this was a preferable variant for the part of Our Ukraine, striving to improve the unsatisfactory 14% result, gained in the previous campaign);
However, the new election would threat to divide the country even deeper; to further anger more than eight million voters of the Party of Regions who already felt deprived and thrown out of the countrys political life; to further destabilise the general politico-economic situation;
On the other hand, there was no viable guarantee that the new Tymoshenko-headed government would become more stable than the first one, particularly when the time comes for the new Ukraine-Russia gas talks;
Finally, the SPU had growing doubts concerning the fate of the political reform in the country (particularly, the fate of the gradual transformation of Ukraine from the presidential into a parliamentary republic), which has always been the major condition of the SPU participation in the coalition. Statements by the representatives of the Tymoshenkos Bloc and of Our Ukraine showed no decline in their support for the strong presidential power.
Based on these concerns, the SPU decided not to support Poroshenkos candidacy for the speaker. Instead the SPU had nominated Olexandr Moroz, who had not only enormous experience in being the speaker of the parliament but during whose presidency over the parliament the country finally adopted the constitution and the parliament itself became a serious counter-weight to the absolutist inclinations of the then president Kuchma. On July 6, 2006 Moroz has received a necessary amount of votes to become the speaker.

The current criticism against the SPU is mainly based on the fact that the Party of Regions and the Communists, with whom the SPU then began the coalition talks, have supported Moroz. Certainly, such decision was not an easy one for the Socialist Party. However, we do not see any other acceptable scenario at the moment.

The SPU, Regions of Ukraine and Communists signed the identical coalition treaty to one initially signed by SPU-BYUT-Our Ukraine, based on the same democratic principles;
The SPU agreed on coalition talks with the Party of Regions and the CPU ONLY when it became clear that no Orange coalition was possible. Meanwhile, Our Ukraine had conducted preliminary, non-official talks with the Party of Regions much earlier in the process.
Another possibility for the Socialists would be a continuous presence in the Orange coalition but without any real weights to affect the decisions. However, the SPU sees such passive participation in the Orange coalition as unacceptable and contradictory to its principles, particularly when such controversial figures as Tymoshenko and Poroshenko would be in full control of the government and the parliament.
The SPU complete withdrawal into parliamentary opposition would not improve the situation either, since Our Ukraine and Tymoshenkos Bloc would need to find another faction to form a coalition.
Besides expenses, unrest and instability, which are highly likely in the case of the new election campaign (as an alternative to the current coalition deadlock), there is a clear danger that the outcome of a new election will even further polarise the society and the parliament, with voters choosing between Tymoshenko or Yanukovich. Such split can seriously endanger the unity and sovereignty of Ukraine and can bring general geo-political instability in the region.
On the other hand, the SPU stresses considerable change in the general political context and positions of the key political actors compared to the time of Orange revolution in the late 2004, namely:

One of the major signs of further democratisation of the country is the respect by all political actors of the democratic norms and compliance with these norms. The manner of political behaviour of the Party of Regions, since the moment when the victory of its candidate Victor Yanukovich at the presidential race was recognised as illegitimate and up till now, indicates the progress this party has made towards recognition and acceptance of the democratic standards, also compared to the other subjects of the political process in the country.
Moreover, the Party of Regions has got greater support of the population than any other party. This fact certainly gives the Party of Regions chance and right to participate in the coalition talks.
No other party has got similar support in the Eastern and Southern regions of the country and to neglect representation rights of these voters is to provoke greater regional and ethnical divisions and destabilisation.
The new coalition continues to be open for Our Ukraine and Yulia Tymoshenko bloc.
The new coalition recognises the right of the oppositional factions on their satisfactory representation in the parliamentary committees.
Such reasons look for the SPU as being appropriate for taking part in the new coalition.

From its side, the SPU expects to use its position in the coalition and, first of all, its presidency over the parliament for the following policy acts and activities:

Further implementation of the political reform
Promotion of the ideas of real social democracy in the country
Institutionalisation of truly democratic norms and procedures of the political and social life
Execution of strict and thoroughful control over human rights issues
Consolidation of media freedom
Further integration of Ukraine into all-European structures and unions
The continuation of negotiation process with the Russian officials
It is very well possible that in the current situation we cannot expect full support and acceptance of all our steps. The minimum what we expect, however, is your awareness and recognition of the complexity and challenge of the situation and your trust in the best possible intentions of the SPU to further move Ukrainian democratisation.

Olexandr Moroz is recognised in the country not only as a professional politician but also as a professional chess-player. Together with his confederates he could not find any better solution than the one presented here. Maybe there are other options; maybe somebody else can do it better, although we strongly believe that in the course of time our current solution will be recognised as the best available in the given conditions. In any case, we can guarantee that whether in the government or in the opposition, the SPU will never betray ideals of social democracy and its responsibility before the international community of Social Democrats.



  • 2006.07.23 | YuriPet


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