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Struggle for prime-ministerial position unfolds among main political actors in Ukraine

October 23, 2014, 10:11 UTC+3 KIEV
A whole range of leading politicians have joined the struggle for the prime-ministerial position ahead of Sunday's election in Ukraine
1 pages in this article
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Leader of the People’s Front party, acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk
Leader of the People’s Front party, acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk
Leader of the People’s Front party, acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk
© TASS/Maxim Nikitin
 Batkyvshchina party leader Yulia Timoshenko
 Batkyvshchina party leader Yulia Timoshenko
Batkyvshchina party leader Yulia Timoshenko
© EPA/SERGEY DOLZHENKO
Oleh Tyahnybok, leader of the nationalist party Svoboda
Oleh Tyahnybok, leader of the nationalist party Svoboda
Oleh Tyahnybok, leader of the nationalist party Svoboda
© TASS/Maxim Nikitin
Radical Party leader, Oleg Lyashko
Radical Party leader, Oleg Lyashko
Radical Party leader, Oleg Lyashko
© TASS/Maxim Nikitin
Vitaly Klitschko,  leader of the UDAR party
Vitaly Klitschko,  leader of the UDAR party
Vitaly Klitschko, leader of the UDAR party
© EPA/ROBERT GHEMENT
Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman
Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman
Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman
© TASS/Maxim Nikitin
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Leader of the People’s Front party, acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk
© TASS/Maxim Nikitin
Batkyvshchina party leader Yulia Timoshenko
© EPA/SERGEY DOLZHENKO
Oleh Tyahnybok, leader of the nationalist party Svoboda
© TASS/Maxim Nikitin
Radical Party leader, Oleg Lyashko
© TASS/Maxim Nikitin
Vitaly Klitschko, leader of the UDAR party
© EPA/ROBERT GHEMENT
Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman
© TASS/Maxim Nikitin

KIEV, October 22. /TASS/. New convocation of Ukraine’s national parliament, the Verkhovna Rada that will be elected this coming Sunday, will be expected to form the cabinet of ministers and to select a prime minister.

Already now, a whole range of leading politicians have joined the struggle for the prime-ministerial position.

Arseny Yatsenyuk: ‘The country’s best man will become Prime Minister’

Leader of the People’s Front party, Acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is clearly willing to take reins of the cabinet again and he has pegged his propaganda campaign at the finish line of the election race to the slogan saying ‘Want Yatsenyuk to remain Prime Minister? Vote People’s Front then!’.

He says along with it that he feels somehow ill at ease about promoting himself. “It’s a niggling and undignified thing to make arrangements with the President about a post for you,” he said.

“Who will be Prime Minister? I wish it was the best person in the country - a strong professional capable of taking the bringing the reforms he started to the very ended,” Yatsenyuk said in a televised interview.

Experts drew a conclusion that Yatsenyuk, who had been speaking about his cabinet’s achievements meant no one else but himself.

He even offered President Pyotr Poroshenko to set up a coalition before the parliamentary election - the one where roles would be spelt out for each political force.

“A crucial factor for a coalition agreement is the people who will perform it, who will hold ministerial posts because the government is not just the Prime Minister, it’s the experts who will be responsible for the fields assigned to them,” Yatsenyuk said.

“Surnames are an important thing now that a coalition agreement is in the offing,” he said once again.

Who will Poroshenko Choose?

The President has set forward a task for his political force, the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, to draft a coalition agreement that would spell out clear principles and criteria of what the coalition was set up for.

“If someone thinks the coalition will be created only for the sake of distributing the posts - the way it has happened in the past - this is ruled out now,” Poroshenko said. “The situations where a coalition government is created for the sole purpose of getting party quotas but doesn’t presuppose responsibility for the parties are history now.”

“And if we set up a coalition of political forces based on European integration, on the 2020 Reform Strategy, on a fast-tracked and efficient reform of the judiciary, on struggle with corruption, on the improvements of investment environment, on all the things that predestine Ukraine’s survival, welcome then to shaping up the team together,” the President told reporters.

In other words, he avoided a direct answer on a possible candidate for premiership. He hopes his block will get the majority of seats in the Verkhovna Rada and this will enable him to set up the government autonomously of other parties.

In the meantime, an opinion poll held from October 1 through October 8 by the Rating public opinion research service showed that the pro-presidential bloc could hope for 33.5% votes or even 40% votes if one factored into the picture the parties that were unlikely to get to parliament. This would guarantee it 90 seats out of the 225 distributed along party tickets.

Poroshenko’s party is also very likely to win in the majority of single-mandate precincts, too. Still, the co-chairman of the party, Yuri Lutsenko believes none of the political forces will get 226 seats, which means the majority, and that is why negotiations with other parties will be needed all the same.

However, sources at the Poroshenko bloc’s election staff say the demand of the People’s Front to keep reserve the office of the Prime Minister for Yatsenyuk makes up the biggest complexity at the coalition talks.

“The aggressive promotion campaign peddling the nice traits of the Prime Minister and the claims the election is aimed at choosing a new head of government may actually play havoc on him,” a source said.

Tymoshenko: a Chance for a Return

For Yulia Tymoshenko, this election means a hopeful chance to return to big-time politics and that is why she believes her Batkyvshchina /Fatherland/ party is the side to make arrangements with.

Tymoshenko, a former prime minister and convict, is leveling bitter criticism at the Yatsenyuk government for freezing the salaries of teachers and physicians, pensions and other social benefits “on the background of a runaway inflation. “It’s important to set up a cabinet of young reformers with degrees from Sorbonne and Cambridge and we do have them on my team,” she claims.

She has been frequently criticizing the course of the punitive operation in Eastern Ukraine of late and President Poroshenko for his peace plan. “Our path towards establishing peace lies through negotiations from the positions of strength,” says Batkyvshchina’s program.

Tymoshenko calls for more resolute actions in Donbass up to the victory at whatever price - a factor for which the Ukrainian media have labeled Batkyvshchina as the party of war.

It is one of the reasons prompting experts to think the likelihood of talks between Poroshenko and Tymoshenko on a coalition is very small, to saying nothing of her appointment to the office of the Prime Minister. Besides, Poroshenko most probably is not oblivious of the contentions that existed between them during Viktor Yushchenko’s presidency.

Political analysts mostly think that Batkyvshchina will find itself in the ranks of parliamentary opposition after the election.

Radicals Craving for Power

On this background, political forces have opened talks on who will make friendships with whom in the new convocation of the Rada, as they have signed a memorandum on supporting a ‘roadmap of reforms’ in parliament.

Leonid Yemets, a deputy representing the People’s Front in the current convocation, told TASS all the political forces had undersigned the document.

The candidacy of the future Prime Minister had been discussed, too, he said. “The Radical Party supported his leader, Oleh Lyashko, and Svoboda gave support to its leader, Oleh Tyahnybok. Vitaly Klitschko was also mentioned,” Yemets said.

Many experts do not rule out a possibility of the Poroshenko Bloc’s attempts to build a coalition with Lyashko’s party as a stable partner. The latte man has said more than once his party will drift into opposition unless it gets a slice of power.

It is very unlikely that Poroshenko will fancy having Batkyvshchina and the Radical Party, two ominously powerful political groupings, among his opponents. Lyashko said recently the President had offered the post of parliament speaker to him but he had denied the offer.

“I’d like to get the position of Prime Minister so as to be able to change the economic situation in the country radically,” he said.

And yet the experts say Poroshenko has taken a wait-and-see stance and he will most probably refrain from naming a candidate before the election. Most political analyst share the conviction the situation compels him to look for an individual who could satisfy Europe, on the one hand, and to develop relations with Russia, on the other.

In these circumstances, Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman who is running for the Rada as a member of the Poroshenko Bloc seems to be the optimal candidate, the analysts say.

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