Disbanding of Parliament: Did Zelensky joke?

Author : Natalia Lebed

Source : 112 Ukraine

The main task of Zelensky for the next two weeks is to take control of the power vertical. If he succeeds, the MPs will become more "soft" in communication with him
22:41, 21 May 2019


"I disband the Verkhovna Rada of eighth convocation," said President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in his inaugural speech. But declaring an early termination of parliament’s powers does not mean to dissband it. For this we need the appropriate decree of the head of state, but of course there is no decree yet.

It cannot appear on the first working day of the elected president, since, according to the Constitution, consultations with factions should precede the dissolution. Bankers are already waiting for the chairmen of the factions - a meeting will take place on May 21 Thus, as of now, Zelensky’s intentions look quite serious. contacted a number of experts to find out whether these intentions would be a perfect act.

Andriy Zolotariov, Head of the Third Sector Center; Kost Bondarenko, founder of the Gorshenin Institute Analytical Center; Viktor Nebozhenko Director of the Ukrainian Barometer Sociological Service; Bogdan Petrenko, Deputy Director of the Ukrainian Institute for Extremism Research; Taras Berezovets, Berta Communications Director; and political consultant Ruslan Bortnyk answered this question.

President has the right to disband the Parliament

According to the Constitution, there are three grounds for early termination of the powers of parliament. The first is the unformed government, the second is the absence of at least one third of the MPs in the Rada, the third is the absence of a parliamentary majority for 30 days. It is the latter circumstance that President Zelensky can refer to.

After all, the fact that there is no de facto coalition is a well-known thing. True, it was recently denied by interested persons, first of all the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Andriy Paruby, and representatives of the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko and the Narodnyi Front faction.

At the end of 2014, the MPs of these two factions, together with the other three - Batkivshchyna, Samopomich and Oleg Lyashko's Radical Party - formed a coalition. Thus, only the Opposition bloc remained out of the game. However, the coalition did not long coexist in peace and harmony.

Sequential withdrawal of the three small factions from the majority actually put a cross on it. The Narodnyi Front and Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc remained in the majority, but together they did not get the minimum necessary 226 votes. Thus, in 2016, the parliamentary majority ceased to exist.

Later, its absence was repeatedly noticed. If desired, the ex-president Poroshenko could dissolve the parliament, but such an opportunity was his right, not his duty. And Petro Poroshenko did not use his right. And then events developed as follows. In 2019, Andriy Derkach, the non-fractional people's deputy, appealed to the court about the inactivity of the Verkhovna Rada on the appointment of the Minister of Health.

In this regard, on February 28 of this year, the District Administrative Court decided to demand lists of coalition members from the Verkhovna Rada. The deadline expired on March 12, but the parliament did not respond to the judicial demand. In other words, it acknowledged that there is no majority in the Verkhovna Rada.

True, on May 17, the Chairman of the Parliament, Andriy Parubiy, announced the termination of the coalition’s activity after the Narodnyi Front Party’s faction announced its withdrawal from it. The deputies tried to cheat and start counting not from 2016, but from last Friday. the Narodnyi Front and Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc insisted: they have 30 days left, during which a new majority can be formed.

For this period of time, the Verkhovna Rada of the current convocation receives protection from dissolution. However, President Zelensky obviously thinks otherwise. Although before the appearance of an official decree it is too early to say that his decision will remain unchanged.

Of all the experts we interviewed, only one - Viktor Nebozhenko - is convinced that today's statement by the President of Ukraine is a bluff. “Zelensky is not going to use legal tools to disband Parliament. He’s just will show the country that the MPs for two months didn’t want to work for the country. There will be no official decree on dissolving parliament,” Nebozhenko is convinced.

Related: Head of Presidential Administration: Peace agreements with Russia could become matter of national referendum

But Bogdan Petrenko notes the following: “In any case, Zelensky will oppose the Verkhovna Rada. I think there will be dissolution, especially since he has already announced this. The new president has a high legitimacy rating, which allows him to dissolve the Rada. There was an appeal to speaker Parubiy demanding to provide lists of the parliamentary majority, but he never did this. Zelensky’s team can refer, in particular, to this point, that is, there was no majority before. At the same time, the responsibility for non-proclaiming the majority has Parubiy ", he adds.

Trials are inevitable

“The decree on dissolution will appear, although the process may be a bit delayed: it is connected with the constitutional requirement to hold consultations with parliamentary factions. As soon as they are carried out, a decree will be issued. As for the Narodnyi Front, it will now be forced to look for a legal mechanism allowing canceling the presidential decree.

And the president should not react to the decision of the Narodnyi Front, letting the parliament itself undertake to prove the unconstitutionality of the presidential decree on its dissolution,”comments Ruslan Bortnyk.

MPs can go to court, and then the matter with early elections will be delayed, said Kost Bondarenko. “Actually, only the Constitutional Court will resolve this, but in fact it will not work. The elections will take place in July. Most likely, on July 21 or, less likely, on the 28th.

The decision of the District Court of Kyiv, which recognized that the coalition ceased to exist in February 2016, will obviously form the basis of the Zelensky’s decree,” Taras Berezovets predicts.

"The Constitutional Court always stands on the side of the president, and it was this court at the end of 2003 that allowed Kuchma to run for the third time. The legal decisions that are made in Ukraine are always politically motivated. At the same time, Zelensky will need an expeditious resolution of the parliamentary issue - the transfer of elections to the fall will not suit him: he will start to lose rating. Therefore, Constitutional Court will announce its decision fairly quickly,” says Bogdan Petrenko.

“It’s hard for me to imagine the decision of the Constitutional Court, which will abolish this presidential decree. Only the date of the election can be adjusted, but not the fact itself,” Ruslan Bortnyk agrees with Petrenko. And in response to our question about whether the government and the prosecutor’s office can provide resistance to the elections as it was in 2007, when Viktor Yushchenko dissolved parliament, Bortnyk recalls: “The Yushchenko’s support rating was then 10%, Zelensky’s is over 70%, he will simply lead people to the streets if something like this happens. "

“Most likely, there will be a court decision on the fact that there is no coalition in the Verkhovna Rada for three years. And if the Speaker Parubiy doesn’t see this, it is his problem. There are arguments for and against the dissolution of the Rada, but on the side of Zelensky is significant public support," recalls Andriy Zolotariov.

Eventually, in the afternoon, the CEC clarified whether a judicial appeal could stop the elections. “According to the norms of current legislation, if the electoral process has begun, then none of the court decisions can stop it. As soon as the presidential decree is made public, we will be in the electoral process from next day,” said Natalia Bernatska, the Secretary of the Central Election Commission.

Zelensky will play good and bad cop

Although the President of Ukraine doomed the current Rada to dissolution, he still set a number of tasks for the MPs. "I want to say a lot of things, but Ukrainians do not want words, but actions, therefore, dear MPs, you yourself appointed the inauguration on Monday, on a working day. I see this as a plus. This means that there will be no parties today, we will work with you and therefore I very much ask you to adopt a law on the abolition of parliamentary immunity, a law on criminal liability for illegal enrichment, a long-suffering electoral code. And please make open electoral lists. I also ask you to dismiss head of Security Service, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, the Minister of Defense of Ukraine. And this is not all that you can do, but enough to begin with. You will have two months for this, "Zelensky said after the inauguration.

However, it is quite obvious: the MPs will ignore the new Ukrainian leader. “Verkhovna Rada will not deal with lawmaking, but with electoral matters. But it was important for Zelensky to designate the program and give the parliament tasks. It will not fulfill it, of course, and this will be an additional argument for depriving it of powers. This had a certain political sense.” claims Andriy Zolotariov.

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And Kost Bondarenko does not exclude "trolling of the president by the Verkhovna Rada". "The current Verkhovna Rada may ignore Zelensky’s ultimatums. It may not nominate the minister of foreign affairs and the Security Service Head, the prosecutor general or any other official for whom the president makes a presentation. The parliament may refuse the president the first time, and the second, and the third. Then the president will appoint acting officials, but they are deprived of the right to appoint their deputies, which will create a crisis and affect the activities of these departments and the country as a whole,” he said.

However, "the main task of Zelensky for the next two weeks is to take control of the power vertical. If he succeeds, the MPs will become more" soft "in communicating with him," says Andrei Zolotariov.

“Zelensky is playing a game" the good president and the bad MPs ". Deputies will not fulfill the tasks, and the president will have reason to criticize them. Can they fulfill at least some of the presidential directives? Maybe, but the changes will be cosmetic, for example, reducing the passing barrier up to 3-4%, permission for blocs to take part in elections, open lists. It is also possible to partially restrict parliamentary immunity, but in no case completely abolitish it, ”said Taras Berezovets.

And Viktor Nebozhenko draws attention to the fact that the requirement to adopt a law on impeachment has mysteriously evaporated from Zelensky’s wish list. Although before there was such a point in his election program. “Zelensky did not recall the impeachment, and this is not in vain. He became president, and he has his presidential interest,” comments Nebozhenko. If it goes on like this, then “by the fall, Zelensky’s party’s rating will drop. But not so much that he doesn’t have his majority,” expert says.

Zelensky and Poroshenko, who came to the second round, benefit most from early parliamentary elections. I think that Zelensky will have as much in the parliamentary elections as he won in the first round, that is, 20-30%, ”Bogdan Petrenko assumes.

“All the forces that have worked well for the presidential election and entered the top 10 win. The worst starting position have those who did not nominate their candidate (as the Narodnyi  Front, for example) and the newly formed parties (like Holos of Vakarchuk): they simply have no time for promotion ", summarizes Ruslan Bortnyk.

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