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Political fate of Yulia Tymoshenko in Ukraine's new parliament

Author : Natalia Lebed

Lately, head of Batkivshchyna party is out of vivid newsmaking events
14:12, 9 September 2019

Yuliya Tymoshenko, Ukraine’s presidential candidate
Open source

In one of her interviews with Novoye Vremya outlet, Yulia Tymoshenko, leader of Batkivshchyna party, recalled the hardships and sorrows of her imprisonment, and concluded the story with a very eloquent phrase: “I know that all my long-standing opponents have actually celebrated the victory over me.” She referred to the events of 2011 when Tymoshenko was arrested in Kyiv and spend long-long time in the prison until the victory of the Revolution of Dignity in 2014. However, Tymoshenko’s statement is quite actual in 2019. This year she was unlucky again: Yulia Tymoshenko has lost the presidential election for the third time in a row, and in the parliamentary elections, the success was not significant: the leader of the Batkivshchyna party managed to lead a small fraction (24 MPs) in the Verkhovna Rada, which could not be even compared with its results in the elections of 2006-2007.

Related: Servant of the People head not satisfied with healthcare reform, acting minister Suprun in many issues

After this, the boiling energy of Yulia Tymoshenko has allegedly withered. She has not been involved in vivid newsmaking events. But it’s too early to forget about “Lady Yu,” believing that she is paralyzed by her failure. She might be waiting for the right moment to appear again. And when such a moment comes, the leader of the Batkivshchyna, greedy for life and power, would force the media and experts to draw attention to themselves and, possibly, even be capable of revenge over today's winners.

For the benefit of the peoples

However, even now the head of the Batkivshchyna is not being inactive. And while the media popularize the unprecedented legislative activity of President Volodymyr Zelensky, Tymoshenko quietly issues one bill after another.

Pensions, benefits for families with children and healthcare staff, protection of women, and persons with disabilities, raising the living wage, increasing wages for the school teachers, youth problems and, of course, cheaper gas tariffs for the population - that’s what Tymoshenko is busy with. Just numerous bills are her personal contribution to the establishment of social justice.

So, while sitting in ambush for difficult times, Yulia Tymoshenko took up the promotion of ideas that she repeatedly voiced during the election campaign. However, how long would it last?

Claiming the niche of populist Lyashko

Experts state that Yulia Tymoshenko obviously claims to take a niche of Oleg Lyashko, who has lost both presidential and parliamentary elections. Viktor Nebozhenko, Ukrainian Barometer sociological service head, did not agree with this. He called Lyashko “an artificial project that can be recreated in a couple of months… Tymoshenko took the niche of normal European social democracy, which professes primarily the social welfare of the people. And this is the right niche," Nebozhenko is convinced.

Political analyst Kyrylo Sazonov adds: “This is Tymoshenko’s typical behavior, I mean, resting on social issues: “I will lower the utility tariffs, increase milk yields, return the deposits from your Soviet bank accounts, ”and the like. She perfectly understands that she will not have to fulfill all this because all this is simply unrealistic and will lead to a budget bias and problems with the IMF. All these are just beautiful words, but Tymoshenko likes them.”

Related: Servant of the People Party plans to adopt bill on denouncers soon

Coalition or opposition? Well, neither way

Tymoshenko is in a difficult situation with President Zelensky. Especially after the chair of the second vice-speaker was graciously given to the representative of the Batkivshchyna Olena Kondratyuk. Now Tymoshenko is supposedly a member of Zelensky’s team. No wonder Batkivshchyna, together with the power fraction, voted for all the significant bills, including the lifting of parliamentary immunity and other changes to the Constitution.

“Tymoshenko stated that she would not be in opposition, although some issues would alienate her from the Servant of the People,” says Ruslan Bortnyk, director of the Ukrainian Institute for Analysis and Policy Management.

Related: Zelensky offers to appoint Avakov as Interior Minister, - Servant of the People MP

 “Zelensky announced the introduction of the land market, which Tymoshenko has always opposed, and she does not plan to go into opposition, no matter how weird it looks in the context of recent promises. At the same time, she must continue her old rhetoric. Moreover, our society remains paternalistic with a bias towards socialist values, expects the state to solve its problems and is not focused on its own efforts. Tymoshenko knows this,” political analyst Yevhen Bulavka says.

Pending…

Kyrylo Sazonov also considers this issue a stumbling block for the Batkivshchyna party and checking it for loyalty to the presidential political force. “While supporting Zelensky, Tymoshenko has occurred in a difficult situation. Either she doesn’t support Zelensky and becomes an outcast, or she supports and shares her rating with him. Everyone understood this, but if Poroshenko’s European Solidarity immediately declared its opposition, and Vakarchuk’s Holos retains independence, then Tymoshenko is acting by inertia so far," Sazonov notes.

But in this situation, Tymoshenko has her own pointer - waiting for a change in the political situation. “Now she is waiting for her time. That is, early elections, a split in the Servant of the People or local elections, Batkivshchyna traditionally have big plans for them. Therefore, all its social rhetoric is aimed primarily at residents of villages or small towns,” Sazonov said.

Related: Zelensky's reforms: What 'servants of people' want to change in Ukraine?

"Today Tymoshenko is expecting that internal contradictions within the Servant of the People faction would strengthen, and then it might become the construct that will strengthen the coalition," Ruslan Bortnyk adds.

Tymoshenko would patiently wait for the opportunity to “attack” new PM Oleksiy Honcharuk. “She will make an emphasis precisely on the socio-economic rhetoric - the issue of tariffs, land, state support. She has already failed with a humanitarian theme because during the last convocation she tried to cover those issues that were promoted by Petro Poroshenko. Except, perhaps, military issues. She will remember about the army, but socio-economic rhetoric will still dominate. She hopes to maintain and strengthen its position among the rural electorate," Ruslan Bortnyk says.

Well, time heals all wounds, sometimes it changes the situation (especially the one that seemed hopeless). And the one who knows how to wait will wait for more.

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