Possible ways out of the present political crisis: some ideas put forward
From 3-5 May 2007 the “Democratic Initiatives” Foundation surveyed 14 prominent Ukrainians regarding their views on how to overcome the political crisis in Ukraine. The specific questions were all open, with the respondents making their suggestions rather than assessing given variants.
1. What basically needs to be done and by whom?
The key words in the responses were “compromise” and “return to a legal framework”. The respondents were unanimous in believing that the crisis could only be resolved through negotiations between the parties presently in conflict. The analysts refer either to the “leading political forces (the Party of the Regions, BYuT – Yulia Tymoshenkos bloc, Nasha Ukraina [Our Ukraine], and the Socialist Party) or the branches of power (the President, Government, Verkhovna Rada) and the opposition, or focusing on individuals “Yushchenko and Yanukovych”. Their main demand to all parties is that they return to a legal framework, the prerequisite for which being to come to political agreements and revoke those decisions which led to the crisis. This means that parliament needs to revoke the Law on the Cabinet of Ministers and all acts passed after the resignation of the opposition and to renounce changes to the format of the coalition. The President must revoke his two Decrees dissolving parliament.
The following, in the opinion of the respondents, need to form the substance of negotiations:
- A political agreement establishing a path to overcoming the crisis and an action plan;
- Legislative and organizational backup for parliamentary elections;
- Procedure and principles of work on amendments to the Constitution and other legislation (laws on the elections, the status of a National Deputy, on the Government, on the 2007 Budget).designed to regulate the relations between branches of power, as well as on court reform, changes to the composition of the Central Election Commission and on a programme for combating corruption;
- Development of civilized relations between all political forces and an improvement in the quality of the future Deputy corps.
The respondents have different ideas about the outcome of such negotiations yet almost all concur on the need for new parliamentary, and some even presidential, elections on condition of a preliminary review and introduction of amendments to current legislation.
2. What should the President do?
One can summarize the opinions here as containing two alternative proposals, one based on compromise, the other on force.
1. The President recognizes his responsibility for the situation in the country and initiates negotiations with his political opponents. All parties return to a legal framework, making certain concessions (for example, possibly agreeing to the holding after parliamentary elections early presidential elections), ensuring enforcement of his own Decree dissolving parliament, recognizing the need for introducing amendments to the Law on the elections and rationalizing the “political reform” [the 2004 amendments to the Constitution] and reform of the system of jurisprudence, initiating a new draft Constitution through a constitutional assembly and its passing by means of referendum.
2. Imposing direct presidential rule with the possible use of force in the event of sabotage of the Constitution, specifically the non-implementation of the Decree.
3. What should the Verkhovna Rada do?
The respondents expect from the majority coalition in the Verkhovna Rada that they recognize that they are in part to blame for the situation in the country, the inevitability of early parliamentary elections and the beginning of preparations to these. They also believe they need to revoke all resolutions voted for with the cards of the majority after 2 April, make amendments to electoral law with the introduction of an electoral system of regional open candidate lists the right of individuals to put themselves forward, the rationalization after the elections of the “political reform” on the basis of agreement between the President and Prime Minister.
In fact some respondents believe that the coalition has already made all possible concessions to the President.
4. What should the Opposition do?
Most of the respondents consider that the main thing that the opposition needs to do is to demonstrate their willingness to cooperate with the other political forces. In the main this was seen as involving their return to parliament in order to work together on amendments to legislation and the passing of a law on resolving the political crisis. It can offer its own package of draft laws needed for holding new elections and provide an example of the formation of party lists openly and publicly, and also demand criminal liability for public officials who infringe electoral legislation. It should not stop putting pressure on the authorities to hold early elections.
Some respondents expressed a somewhat different attitude to the opposition, which in their opinion needs to “grow up”, “work on its mistakes”, “not interfere in the wrangles, but use the options for a legal and democratic solution to the problem”.
5. What should the Prime Minister do?
The main suggestions with regard to Viktor Yanukovychs actions centred on the need to come to an agreement with the President, as well as to ensure the running of early parliamentary elections. During the election campaign the Prime Minister should not forgot about the economy and should maintain economic stability. As the leader of the Party of the Regions, the respondents also believe that he has the duty to ensure that his party supports compromise.
6. Who else is in a position to do something and what specifically to resolve the political crisis?
Among potential parties who could constructively influence the situation, the respondents mentioned:
- The EU, PACE and Ukraines guarantor countries which can promote negotiation and guarantee the enforcement of agreements reached;
- Civic organizations and the independent media which must seek early elections and help ensure that in the new situation the country does not divide into two camps, and that the public has more opportunity to stand up for its interests and to force politicians to take it into consideration;
- Big business which finances conflicting political forces should make their own agreements between themselves;
- Specialists on constitutional law can draw up a balanced draft of amendments to the Constitution or the draft of a new Constitution;
- The Prosecutor General who can prosecute over cases of sabotage of the Constitution and laws by public officials, and the SBU [Security Service] which can pass material from criminal investigations to the court with regard to incidents of corruption by public officials, judges and political leaders.
15 May 2007
This press release was prepared by Irina Bekeshkina and Maria Didenko
The survey was carried out by Anna Zhuravyova
List of respondents