Monday, December 06, 2004

Deal made 

An AP report tonight contains an interview from Stepan Havrysh, chief of the Ukrainian Supreme Court, that the parliament has reached a deal over the constitutional changes and the electoral law for the runoff that his court ordered. According to Reuters:
Under the deal brokered in parliament, Kuchma will attend a session at 12.00 noon (1000 GMT) and bring a decree dismissing Yanukovich's government. The opposition will agree to vote for constitutional reform along with election law changes.
I do not know what the compromise agreement is; Maidan indicates that the Yushchenko partisans were willing to accept the changes that would weaken the presidency and give more power to the premiership and Rada only at the beginning of 2006. Given Yushchenko wants to pursue reforms, the demand makes some sense. C.J. Chivers reports that Russia is beginning to accept the possibility of a future Yushchenko presidency.

The rationale for the events this weekend is that the Supreme Court ruling was probably better than any of the Orange supporters of Yushchenko thought. Not only did they throw out the previous vote and order new elections: They required a date certain for the new election -- it was ordered to happen with or without pariamentary or presidential approval (though perhaps with some of the same central election committee members that bunged up the last try.) This removed a huge lever Kuchma had to ensure the agreement. Given such a huge victory, some in the Yushchenko camp probably thought they should try to see what kind of give there was on the constitutional revisions, now that they could possibly win the presidency under current conditions. That was hopeless, however; outgoing president Kuchma still has too much power to get that deal without a bitter fight -- he could veto changes to the commission, and he could have kept the government presidential candidate Yanukovych in the prime minister position. Moreover, his biggest backer in the runoff, third place finisher Oleksandr Moroz, would not hear for it. My guess is that the Maidan report is the compromise position Yushchenko has accepted to get the remainder of last Wednesday's agreement through. We should know the answer to that by morning. It may seem much to give up, but in the end you get a political structure with more power in a delegated legislature and premiership and less for the presidency. Maybe it leads to some hope among the oligarchs for a new gray cardinal (as they might be appointed by a parliament afterwards), but it's nevertheless a great step forward if that's what's happened. The best is often the enemy of the good...

No word on whether Kuchma got an agreement to immunity he was reported to be looking for.

I have a few things to catch up on; for more analysis today, take a look at this interview Peter Lavelle did of Daniel Bilak for UPI. Bilak is a sharp son of a gun.

UPDATE (12/7, 11am): The vote is delayed until Wednesday. Looks like there's some maneuvering still.