Friday, July 14, 2006

Ukraine update 

There really isn't anything more important for you to read right now than what's going on in Israel. Even the New York Times now thinks so. But since some people found this blog by looking for information on Ukraine, a short update is in order.

It is highly doubtful now that an Orange coalition will re-form for President Yushchenko. There was a short period of talks between Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych, whose Party of Regions was the top vote-getter in April but with whom Yushchenko would find difficulty in working. Those talks have broken up. There is sufficient animus between the Communists and Yuschenko's Our Ukraine party that even if the two principles agreed, the Communists could threaten to leave the coalition and bring down that government too.

As a result, the hastily-written deal that ended the Presidential elections in 2004-05 is now causing an impasse. Yanukovych has sufficient votes in the Parliament to win election as prime minister without Our Ukraine. But the deal signed gives Yushchenko the power to appoint two key ministries -- defense and foreign affairst -- and so he could prevent a cabinet from forming. Whether this would be constitutional is up in the air, since the country's Constitutional Court lacks a quorum with which to make decisions. Too, the constitution allows a presidential veto of parliamentary action with a 2/3 vote required for override, so allowing the government to form and then wielding the veto pen is an option. I doubt this one would happen as it's not Yushchenko's style. Yanukovych is tempting this option by threatening to hold the vote for PM without waiting on Yushchenko.

That still makes early elections the most likely possibility. If there's no government formed by 25 July, Yushchenko can dissolve the parliament and call for new elections. As Scott Clark observes, there is "no institution in Ukrainian society has any credibility." It may be down to the people to decide this for themselves, if they can. If they were 50-50 last time, what's changed?