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Taking everything: Servant of the People party does not want to share parliamentary committees

Author : Natalia Lebed

Four parliamentary committees with “supervisory functions”, namely, the Budget, Regulatory, the Committee on Freedom of Speech and on Fight against Corruption, are traditionally considered to be those that the coalition generously gives to the opposition. But tradition is not an imperative, much less a law
12:38, 10 August 2019

president.gov.ua

For example, it happened in the parliament, elected in 2012. Now some MPs from among those who went to the Rada on the lists of Yulia Tymoshenko or Petro Poroshenko parties should feel deja vu. They are again in opposition and again must defend their interest, because Zelensky has already divided the chairmanship of the committees among his own people.

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Committees web

This is not a joke like the dismissal of Head of Presidential Office Andriy Bogdan, but an authentic fact: the Servant of the People faction will lay claim to the majority of parliamentary committees in the Verkhovna Rada. The Servant of the People has already outlined a list of potential goals. But how many committees will be in the Rada?

The smallest number of the committees was registered in the parliaments of second and third convocations (23). The largest number was observed in the seventh convocation - 29. The current parliament should give itself advice with numbers. So, according to the preliminary accounts, the tax, customs and financial policy committee (Servant of the People proposes to combine 2 committees - tax and customs policy and financial policy and banking - into one) may be headed by Danylo Getmantsev.

Economic Policy Committee - Dmytro Natalukha.

Budget Committee - Yuriy Aristov.

Humanitarian and Information Committee - Oleksander Tkachenko.

Committee on Science and Education - Serhiy Babak.

Digitalization and IT Committee - Mykhailo Kryachko.

Committee on Legal Policy and Justice - Iryna Venedyktova.

Committee on Agrarian Policy and Land Relations - Mykola Solsky.

Committee on the Prevention and Combating of Corruption - Anastasia Krasnoselska.

Law Enforcement Committee - Denys Monastyrsky.

Fuel and Energy Complex Committee - Andriy Gerus.

Infrastructure Committee – Vladyslav Krykliy.

Committee of state building, local government - Andriy Klochko.

Committee on National Security and Defense - Oleksandr Zavitnevych.

Health Committee - Mykhailo Radutsky.

Committee on Environmental Policy - Oleg Bondarenko.

The Committee on Rules and Organization of the Verkhovna Rada - Serhiy Kalchenko.

Foreign Affairs Committee - Bogdan Yaremenko.

Committee on European Integration - Maria Mezentseva.

Committee on Social Policy - Galyna Tretyakova.

Of course, if one of the aforementioned persons goes to work in the government (for example, Mykhailo  Radutsky, who is seen as the Minister of Health), then the configuration will change. But even in this case, someone from the Servant of the People can claim the chairmanship of the committee. They will just put another surname.

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However, the opposition will also get something. "We proposed only 20 committees, and we propose the opposition to lead two more. In particular, the committee on freedom of speech. In our opinion, this is a very democratic step, because the opposition should also have a voice. And the second committee will deal with minority rights," MP Galyna Tretyakova declares.

"It is significant that the party in power did not want to take a human rights committee. It is unpopular because you can’t make money on it," says Bogdan Petrenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Study of Extremism. Another thing is indicative here: the office of the Verkhovna Rada speaker might be taken by head of the Servant of the People party Dmytro Razumkov, while Ruslan Stefanchuk is promoted to the position of the vice speaker. The opposition, therefore, will get the chair of the second vice speaker plus a couple of committees.

Related: Coalition deal: Who to unite with Zelensky's party in Ukraine's new parliament?


What does the law say?

And the law does not regulate this issue. Actually, in the law "On Committees of the Verkhovna Rada," adopted in 1995, the algorithm for distributing treasured portfolios is absent. True, there is another act that regulates this problem - the law "On Regulations". According to Part 4 of Art. 81 of this law, quotas for the distribution of positions of committees’ chairmen, first deputies, deputy chairmen, secretaries and members of committees are determined proportionally from the quantitative composition of fractions to the actual number of MPs in the manner established by the Verkhovna Rada.

Simply put, the larger the fraction, the more posts it can claim. But what about the "coalition-opposition?" That's the trouble for the latter, that its interests are not legally taken into account. "In previous convocations, there were proposals to legislatively regulate the status of parliamentary opposition. But our laws are written for a specific situation, and not in order to serve as a basis for work. Zelensky inherited from Yanukovych such a law on regulations that allows the Servant of the People to act as mono-majority and don’t share committees with others,” states Bogdan Petrenko.

Servant of the People is not the first political force that violates the “gentlemen's agreement” on the participation of the opposition in parliamentary life. “If I’m not mistaken, the opposition’s budget committee was given away for the last time in 2002, when Petro Poroshenko was its leader. After that, no one gave the budget committee to anyone, and this Council will definitely not give up the budget committee, like any financial committees,” predicts ex-MP Oleksiy Mushak.
 
“The Servant of the People talked a lot about the return to the European traditions of parliamentarism. But those who came to power after the Maidan also spoke very beautifully about democracy and European norms, but later they deprived the opposition of any rights and opportunities to influence processes because words are words, and real politics is real politics,” the expert adds.

Silence means consent?

And Bogdan Petrenko, meanwhile, is surprised that no protests are heard from the “offended” factions. "It is surprising that harsh statements were not made right away. Perhaps each of the four opposition factions expected someone else to do it instead. But I think that soon someone will voice their own applications for the committees," he says.

Petrenko reminds: parliament is not a government. The fact that the “Servant of the People” takes all the ministerial portfolios for itself is unpleasant for other factions, but at least it is expected. In the end, the team that announces fundamental changes should be monolithic and not curtsy with other political forces, if such curtsies, in its opinion, will only hurt the cause. A completely different matter is work in the Verkhovna Rada, where the quota principle must operate.

Until now, this principle has been adhered to one way or another. But "if Zelensky’s party ignores the quota principle, then in the future it will face a huge rejection of its policy, and instead of involving the junior partners in resolving common issues, they will get tough opposition in the form of four factions at once, none of which will support the initiative of Zelensky. That is, for every vote “for” we get four votes “against,” Petrenko warns.

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Political scientist Anton Kuchukhidze suggests that the Servant of the People can make enemies in the face of colleagues, but the presidential force has a reserve in the form of extra-faction majority votes. “Do not forget that they still have self-nominees, on which officials always have the opportunity to put pressure on. Therefore, if joint work with other factions does not work, there are still about 60 self-nominees (the exact number is 56), with whom” The servant of the people "will work closely and arrange situationally to get votes."

The Servant of the People is indeed unlikely to take into account the recommendations of the Council of Europe. At least with regard to the organization of parliamentary life. The euphoria of the victory in the parliamentary elections is still ongoing, but the celebration of the will has already ended, and harsh everyday life awaits the presidential faction within the walls of parliament.

Related: No changes on Eastern Front: How is Zelensky going to end war?

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