Party of the Regions wants new rules on appointing speaker and forming factions
Kommersant Ukraine reports that the Party of the Regions has decided to change the rules for the work of the Verkhovna Rada. MPs have passed in its first reading a draft bill which would considerably simplify the procedure for electing and dismissing the parliamentary speaker and also introduce new rules on forming factions and groups. The opposition asserts that the Party of the Regions are preparing the ground for appointing a controllable speaker and fear that the move is directed against them.
The draft Law on Amendments to the Verkhovna Rada Regulations was tabled in parliament by Party of the Regions MP Volodymyr Makeyenko on Monday evening and had already been placed on the parliamentary agenda by Tuesday.
Kommersant points out that the new parliament will comprise 225 MPs voted in according to party lists, and 225 candidates according to a majoritarian system. For this reason the Party of the Regions is planning to change the procedure for electing and dismissing the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada. At present according to Article 75 § 5 the vote is secret and MPs vote using ballot papers. The new draft bill simplifies this considerably. The decision regarding candidacy is decided via open named vote. Procedure for dismissal is also simplified in the same manner with a simple majority only being required.
The ground for these changes was provided in July by the Constitutional Court which, following a submission from 51 Party of the Regions MPs, found that the special procedure for dismissing the Speaker did not comply with the Constitution.
As reported, that came remarkably soon after the Parliamentary Speaker Lytvyn publically stated that he would not sign the highly contentious language law. He signed it soon after the Constitutional Court’s judgement.
The draft law would also change the system for forming factions. At present they are created on a party basis by MPs elected according to the party lists of parties or blocs, the new rules would mean that “deputy factions are formed on a party basis”.
On the other hand the draft law will make it harder to create MP groups by raising the number of MPs needed from the present 15 to no less than the smallest faction. In addition the stipulation that an MP can only join one MP group would be removed.
Members of the opposition see the changes regarding formation of factions on a party basis as being directed against them. According to Serhiy Sas they have candidates who are not members of the Batkivshchyna Party meaning that they are forced to join the party or not be part of the faction.
This change would affect members of six parties who because of the ban on taking part in the elections as blocs are standing on the Batkivshchyna list as non-party affiliated. These include the leaders of some of the prominent parties who have joined together in the United Opposition, including Arseny Yatsenyuk.