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Opposition games: Who to oppose Zelensky's party in Ukrainian parliament?

Author : Natalia Lebed

European Solidarity of Petro Poroshenko, Batkivshchyna of Yulia Tymoshenko and Holos of Svyatoslav Vakarchuk will compete for the opportunity to be the first on this opposition field
12:20, 14 August 2019

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All the offices in the Verkhovna Rada are divided between different people (it doesn’t matter whether Servant of the People takes them all or shares them with colleagues from the opposition), but one interesting post would remain in the parliament. I am talking about the chairman of the opposition. Each of the four factions remains in the minority will claim the title of the only right opposition force. Although Ruslan Bortnyk, director of the Ukrainian Institute for Policy Analysis and Management, believes that “the opposition segment will be supported by the Opposition Platform - For Life,” the rest of the factions – European Solidarity of Petro Poroshenko, Batkivshchyna of Yulia Tymoshenko and Holos of Svyatoslav Vakarchuk – will compete for the opportunity to be the first on this playing field.

Related: Continuation of this healthcare reform is genocide of the Ukrainian nation, - Tymoshenko

Actually, European Solidarity has already voiced an application to be "senior" or "main" among the other opposition factions. On August 9, ex-president of Poroshenko’s close associate, Iryna Gerashchenko, called on colleagues to join forces in the new Verkhovna Rada. However, the purpose of such a union in the presentation of Gerashchenko looks somewhat mercantile. She states that European Solidarity has appealed to political forces that are out of the ruling majority, in particular to Holos and the Batkivshchyna with a proposal to jointly coordinate positions regarding the proportional representation of parliamentary factions. “Our team has professional staff. We are ready to offer the best specialists to chair the committees of national security and defense, European integration and foreign affairs, human rights, freedom of speech, regulatory, budgetary, culture and spirituality, economic policy, on issues of veterans who will ensure the productive and professional work of the committees," she assures.

The only trouble is that European Solidarity would not get so many committees.

“Associations can only be spontaneous: for example, in order to vote for the distribution of the offices. I do not rule out that the opposition will head some committees," Bogdan Petrenko, the deputy director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Study of Extremism, comments.

Director of the Institute for Global Strategies Vadym Karasiov notes: “There will be no joint struggle for the offices. At least because there aren’t so many of them at all. And secondly, let the new government take full responsibility. When the opposition is given some kind of offices, this would be a trap for it.

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

Undoubtedly, Yulia Tymoshenko and Svyatoslav Vakarchuk should have already buried their last hopes for joining a coalition with the Servant of the People. And they would have to think about how to survive in the new conditions. The struggle between Tymoshenko, Poroshenko, and Vakarchuk (from which the Opposition Platform - For Life would be aloof) would bring considerable pleasure primarily to Zelensky’s party.

Thus, the wisest way for the current opposition is to wait for a favorable moment to get out of suspended animation in time. Sometimes, however, it is possible to “change shoes” in a jump and vote in solidarity, if this is required by the political situation. For example, Ruslan Bortnyk does not exclude the joint vote of the Opposition Platform - For Life with the Servant of the People on some “issues of war and peace.” Batkivshchyna might converge with Opposition Platform - For Life at some point - for example, to prevent the introduction of an open land market.

Perhaps taking the initiative was important for European Solidarity in terms of meeting the personal ambitions of Petro Poroshenko. "There is a request for consolidation in Ukrainian society, but the realization of such unity is limited. The statement of European Solidarity is an attempt to comply with such a request. Although for most ordinary Ukrainians, Poroshenko and Tymoshenko (and even Holos) are ideologically equal. Only the personalities are different.

Related: Single-party coalition: Seven risks for Zelensky's Servant of the People party

It is also possible that Poroshenko aims to declare himself as an informal opposition leader. Another question is what he has for this reason. Just being the chairman of the faction is no longer the bar for him; such a status does not satisfy his ambitions. He still considers himself the president, and the position of chairman of the opposition is much more attractive to him than just managing the faction," Bogdan Petrenko is convinced.

Indeed, sitting in an ambush and waiting for Zelensky and Servant of the People rating to rush down is rather boring. It is much more interesting to lead this process. In addition, the place for this ambush becomes crowded: everyone in the opposition is trying to get as close as possible to the point of a good start. And this is not only about future parliamentary elections, but also about presidential ones. It is important for Vakarchuk not to repeat the experience of 2019 and not to miss his chance. Therefore, both Peter Poroshenko and Tymoshenko just dream of how the number of their potential rivals decreases.

The future fierce rivalry is another reason why none of the opposition forces will really unite. Potential partners have too different interests, says Bogdan Petrenko. “In addition, ex-president Poroshenko carries a rather negative burden, and Yulia Tymoshenko considers herself an independent politician. The Opposition platform - For Life is ideologically not suitable for unity with anyone, and Holos identifies itself as a completely new formation, which is unlikely to enter into an alliance with old politicians so as not to lose their electoral advantages," he adds.

Related: Servant of the People head reveals party's position on Donbas issue, coalition, state budget 2020

By the way, the opposition will be able to use these very differences in identifying "I am not Zelensky." Poroshenko and Tymoshenko will play on the fact that they are experienced professions, not the TV showmen. And Vakarchuk would once again saddle the demand for the new faces.

Ruslan Bortnik suggests that the most irreconcilable opponent of the new government could be the Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna and Opposition Platform - For Life.“These two fractions will be Zelensky’s greatest critics in terms of socio-economic transformations, and European Solidarity and Holos – in terms of peace and war and humanitarian transformations,” the expert said.

Everyone will compete for the title of “Anti-Zelensky.” Casting for the title is already open, and the show starts in September.

 

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