[Aaus-community-list] Opposition: "What for" or "Against whom"
Robert A. DeLossa
radelo at earthlink.net
Mon Mar 22 18:10:52 EDT 2010
Rebroadcast with permission of the UCIPR. - rdl
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Research Update. Vol. 16, № 8/606, 18 March 2010
Opposition: "What for" or "Against whom"
Iryna Lukomska, UCIPR expert
In observing the issue of the ‘unified opposition’, the question ‘against whom?’ is taken as the main
platform for it. The issue of the positive (and not personified) perspective – ‘what for?’- is not taken
into account. However, should the opposition be ‘unified’ and all the deputies, which didn’t attend
the coalition, work out the unified positive program? And if we presume that ‘no’ – then how should
the ‘non-coalition’ and ‘non-unified coalition’ deputies present the interests of their constituents,
which voted for them?
Problems of opposition making = problems of coalition making
During the last decade the opposition in the Ukrainian Parliament was created for several times.
And then it came into power. The Parliament elections 2002 were the first which results were put
into the basis of the coalition in the Verkhovna Rada. Its results were the first case in the Ukrainian
history when the democrats occupied the first place – Victor Yushchenko Block Nasha Ukraina (Our
Ukraine) has got nearly 24% by the party lists (the half of the Parliament was elected by the
majority system). As the leader of the winning block, Yushchenko chose out of two: to lead his
party into the coalition with ideologically non-antagonist pro-president Za Yedynu Ukrainu (For the
Unified Ukraine) – or into the opposition with CPU, SPU, and BYuT (Block Yulii Tymoshenko),
which got 6%. The negotiations lasted for six months. But when the consensus on the coalition
program (also the first in the modern Ukrainian history) was almost completed, Yushchenko has
chosen… the opposition.
The antagonists of the opposition choice inquired about the program that the dissimilar union will
execute when it comes into power. The answer was simple: the main aim is to overcome Kuchma’s
r?gime. "The main thing is not ‘what for’, but ‘against whom’" – from the eight-year distance this
task doesn’t seem perfect any more. From January 2005 Kuchma’s regime didn’t exist, and the
same political forces were still in the parliament.
Events of 2006-2008 illustrate the striking instance of the thesis that the common enemy is the best
uniting factor, but have conquered him the winners have no idea what to do with the victory. After
SPU has shunted from the orange forces to the Party of regions and CPU and the Anti-crisis
coalition was created, Nasha Ukraina and BYuT found their selves out of the power. Rising in
opposition against the ‘wide coalition’, they motivated the premature parliament elections by the
need of creating the democratic coalition. They have created it. Their Coalition Agreement was
detailed and regulated each ‘ahchoo!’…But in September 2008 BYuT voted with the Party of
regions without coordination with NUNS (decreasing the President’s plenary powers, non-
recognition of the military operations of Russia against Georgia as the aggression), and this
contradicted the Coalition Agreement (actually recognition the Russian language as the official).
Form autumn 2008 till summer 2009 the negotiations on creating the ‘wide coalition’ (PR and
BYuT) were carried on, and this fact wasn’t objected by the representatives of the both sides. In
fact, the actions of BYuT led to the collapse of the coalition of the democratic forces, and after that
– to the need of creating the new one, ‘triple’ – with Lytvyn. This one also broke up, and Lytvyn
himself was the initiator ‘to put an end to it’.
The transformation of the status of BYuT+NU from opposition into power showed that the
opposition can become coalition very fast. That’s why the members not only the coalition but also
the opposition union should understand what exactly they are ready to carry out together. And,
being the opposition they should work out the decisions which will be resolved and implemented
after have become the power. But at this period they could propose them as the alternative to the
coalition. So, the ability to transform the opposition into coalition demonstrates – the main factor in
the functioning of the unions is the joint positive program and the willingness to execute it.
In the context of stability of the political constructions, which oppositions and coalitions are created
from, it’s important to mention the other example of the association – the forming of Our Ukraine –
People’s Self-Defense Bloc (Nasha Ukraina – Narodna Samooborona, NUNS) in 2007 (which as
well as BYuT became one of the two elements of the democratic coalition). The liberal president’s
NU, the parties of Pravytsia (UNP, NRU, Assembly (Sobor), the leader project with the socialist as
the Head People’s Self-Defense (Narodna Samooborona) and a couple of the sofa parties –
Karmazin’s, Stretovych’s, Katerynchuk’s, Kaskiv’s – made a bloc. Has the formal tenure in one bloc
liquidated the divergence in views, which the first three subjects had had before the NUNS was
created (let’s remind: they wanted to create a unified party)? The example of the functioning and the
virtual breaking out of the bloc affirm – the organizational unity doesn’t guarantee the unity of
thoughts and thus the actions.
We can mention also the Our Ukraine Party, which at the beginning of the 2005 was called for
unifying all the democratic forces under the flag of the newly-elected President Yushchenko’s
rating, regardless of their ideological directions. The negative program ‘breaking down Kuchma’s
regime’ has been realized till that time, but the positive one was only quite fuzzy ‘support of
Yushchenko’s course’. The experiment finished with the demarche of several known persons
(Poroshenko, Zhvania) and even of the Head of the Political Counsel and group Vyacheslav
Kyrylenko, who has established the party ‘For Ukraine!’.
The current crisis in establishing the coalitions (authoritative or opposition) is a consequence of the
crisis of party building in Ukraine. The substitution of the ideology as the basis for the formation of
the political parties by leading personalities has expressed their hopelessness.
The conversations on the unified opposition of 2010 sample seem like ‘d?j? vu’. "Now there are
such the grave threats to the Ukrainian values in the country, it would be absurd to continue a long
dissension within the forces, declared their opposition to the current government", - convinced
Mykola Tomenko, BYuT. Therefore, in his opinion, "one united Democratic opposition" is needed.
These words could be said with the equal success both now and in 2002 (then Tomenko, the
member of Our Ukraine, was in opposition against Kuchma's regime).
The personification of the perspective
Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, Xenia Lyapina, Oksana Bilozir, Kendzior, Tkach, Stoiko, Kostenko’s like-
minded persons, representatives of the Unified Centre (Yedynyi Tsentr), Parubiyi are actually
agitating for Yanukovych by fully destroying Yulia Tymoshenko and deliberately not touching the
leader of the Regions ", - says Volodymyr Yavorivskyi, BYuT. Thus, the author of this opinion
assumes that the whole political struggle is reduced to the opposition of figures, and the all variety
of people’s interests fits into those positions of the two persons. So the interests that transcend these
boundaries, or have no right to exist, or should not be presented at the Parliament. Yavorivskyi
actually offers discriminate against the citizens' right to represent their interests in the government,
if they didn’t choose, "which leader they like best: Yulya or Vitia. It is more interesting because the
verb "destroy" "granite" National Democrats always used for abstract concepts before (and ever -
for individuals): Ukrainian language, spirituality, historical memory.
"There are two options for consolidation: around the person, but it failed in 2004, and around the
national idea" - it was recently announced by... Viktor Yushchenko, with the inherent significant
However, the modern Ukrainian political tradition, especially established during the last five years
is an association "under the person". The "divarication" of the political area to ‘Yulia’s’ and ‘Vitia’s’
is simple and clear for the majority of the electorate. And, furthermore, it’s advantageous to those
forces who seek for monopolizing of the commitment of approximately one second of Ukrainian
voters. The dominant position in the coalition (authoritative or opposition) is the path to the
assimilation of its satellites.
So, on March, 16 Tymoshenko submitted an application for the role of a united opposition and
announced a merger of the parliamentary opposition in Verkhovna Rada. In addition to parties -
components of BYuT the statement was signed by five of the nine NUNS bloc participants: Borys
Tarasyuk (NRU), Yuriy Lutsenko (PSD), Volodymyr Stretovych (CDU), Yuri Karmazin (Party of
Motherland Defenders), Mykola Katerynchuk (European party). Realizing the impossibility to unite
all non-coalition under her omophorion, she decided to resolve at least one task: using the
regulations, state the BYuT exclusive right to use the parliamentary rostrum on behalf of the
V. Kyrylenko and Yu. Kostenko have already declared the impossibility of entering the unified
opposition. Yes, UNP proposed the national-patriotic forces to start negotiations on forming the
right opposition, refusing "to participate in the so-called Y. Tymoshenko’s democratic opposition,
taking into account her anti-Ukrainian activity as the Prime Minister of Ukraine, and the destructive
cooperation Yulia Tymoshenko’s Bloc with the Party of Regions in the parliament, which led to the
termination of the democratic coalition in 2008.
The Law doesn’t want several oppositions
"In Verkhovna Rada can be only an opposition parliamentary faction or one opposition union of
factions and who (which) is the parliamentary opposition" – read Article 68 of the Rules of Law of
Ukraine about the Regulation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Thus, the Ukrainian law requires a
unified parliamentary opposition and, accordingly, prevents the formation of several centers of
opposition, at least at the level of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
Therefore, from a formal point of view Leonid Kravchuk is right: "If you talk strictly formally, the
opposition together with the opposition government must be registered in the Verkhovna Rada. The
BYuT proposition can be the only real opposition today. They made a declaration, the statements are
applied to all the main opposition papers, that why only BYuT is the official opposition". But by the
words, listed before ("We should not just criticize, but offer to take any decision"), a politician
contradicts himself: the opposition do must have a unified positive program.
"I recall that the Rules of the Verkhovna Rada were prepared and adopted by the Party of Regions
and the BYuT. By the Norm of the official opposition they have prepared themselves an alternate, in
other words, in the Regulation deliberately laid the scheme of monopolizing of the opposition by
the largest faction within the non-coalition"- explains the origin of this norm the chairman of the
NUNS faction Mykola Martynenko. In his view, "the monopolization of the power by one force and
the opposition by the other, in our case leads to a repetition of PR and BYuT, just in the distorted
form". Even to the creation of the artificial conditions on the format of bipartisan politics.
It is interesting to compare this statement of the regulations with that, which was changed in March
9, 2010 (Art.61) – on the coalition formation. In fact, it was that in the previous edition (the
formation of a coalition only by factions, not individual members) the Regulations limited the rights
of those deputies, including non-faction, which didn’t leave the factions (these can be rid of the
mandate), and those who were excluded from the fractions. Similarly, the rights will be limited to
those deputies who will not be a member of "the opposition coalition".
Logically, that in March 11, 2010 a bill № 6182 On amending the Law of Ukraine on the Rules of
the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine was registered in the parliament, which through the changes to the
Art.68 enables the establishment of several opposition factions. The author, UNP representative
(NUNS fraction) Yaroslav Dzhodzhyk considers: if the change does not make, "lower half of the
opposition artificially will be forced to work on the principles proposed by opposition majority,
even if they contradict the principles of pre-election programs that are supported by the voters. On
March, M. Martynenko and A. Matvienko registered another bill (№ 6193) regarding the
amendments to the Regulations on the creation of opposition.
For the political forces, interested in establishing of the bipartisan system, these changes are
unfavorable. On March, 15 at the broadcast of Channel 5 Anatolyi Kinah showed that the PR
advocates the existence of a united opposition and will not vote for the amendments to the Law on
Regulation. But now the PR has another advantage, as the authoritative party – to parcel the
opposition. The practice shows: each political force changes legislation under its current needs.
Therefore, the fate of the opposition amendments to the regulations will depend on which of the two
motifs is more important for regions today.
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