Ukraine's parliamentary coalition collapses, making snap elections impossible

Ukraine's parliamentary coalition collapses, making snap elections impossible
By bne IntelliNews May 17, 2019

The ruling coalition in the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, collapsed on May 17, as a result of the withdrawal of the People's Front faction, headed by former prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

According to Ukrainian legislation, the Verkhovna Rada should now keep working until the next parliamentary election scheduled for October 27, meaning president-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy will not be able to call a snap election after his inauguration on May 20. 

"We declare our withdrawal from the coalition and termination of its activity as of May 17, 2019, and initiate the creation of a new coalition with a new agenda," the People's Front faction's leader Maksym Burbak said during the parliamentary session.

The People's Front is the second largest faction in the Verkhovna Rada, which formed a coalition with outgoing President Petro Poroshenko’s bloc in 2016.

"I've got sad news. In light of the statement made by the head of the parliamentary faction of the People's Front political party [...] I inform you that the European Ukraine coalition of parliamentary factions [...] has terminated its work today. And we have to admit that it was a good coalition. I congratulate all of you, my colleagues, on our joint work," parliament speaker Andriy Parubiy said the same day.

On the eve of the second round of the presidential election on April 21, Zelenskiy said that he was mulling snap parliamentary elections after his victory. "We will think about that," Zelenskiy said. "You should understand that we [Zelenskiy's team] will benefit from that."

No intention "to break the law"

Meanwhile, on May 16, Zelenskiy's chief political advisor Dmytro Razumkov said that the president-elect's team is not going "to break the law" regarding possible snap parliamentary elections.

"There are circumstances allowing the president to dissolve the Verkhovna Rada. They are described by the law, which may not be crystal clear but is more or less explicit," Razumkov added in a televised interview. "One of these circumstances is the absence of a coalition, which has been discussed a lot. In my opinion, there is no coalition today, because two coalition factions comprise fewer than [the necessary minimum of] 226 deputies."

Zelenskiy’s swearing-in ceremony will take place on May 20, according to a special draft resolution greenlighted by the parliament on May 16. The motion followed numerous appeals by Zelenskiy to Poroshenko, his loyal lawmakers and Parubiy to cease what he said were efforts to delay inauguration day, and organise the ceremony to be held on May 19.

On May 4, Zelenskiy urged Parubiy to schedule the presidential inauguration for May 19. He said that "certainty is extremely important both for the people of Ukraine and for foreign guests who have already expressed a desire to attend the celebration."

The statement followed Zelenskiy's accusations that the official announcement of the voting results had been delayed with the aim of preventing snap elections to the nation's parliament. "There is victory, but no powers. Someone hides a mace [a symbol of the presidential inauguration] from me," he said in a video message published on April 25.