Out of comfort zone: How Zelensky can gain parliament's favor
As the Central Election Commission has already processed most of the voting protocols, Volodymyr Zelensky's win in the second round of the presidential race becomes obvious. And now, Zelensky, who will soon officially take up office, is facing a difficult issue of establishing future cooperation with the parliament.
At the moment, the president-elect has several options. Zelensky could try to search for partners in the current convocation of the Rada. Theoretically, in part, he can find them in the "People's Front" and, paradoxically, in the "Block of Petro Poroshenko" as well (because there are many people there who are not that loyal to the incumbent president). Most likely, there will also be part of the "Opposition Bloc", and which one it will be - "For Life" or the so-called Akhmetov Group - is yet to be seen. Also, cooperation with Oleh Liashko's party cannot be ruled out. Zelensky can also count on "Samopomich", and "Batkivshchyna" parties.
Theoretically, all of these votes may be enough to pass certain bills through parliament. However, firstly, sitting down at a negotiation table with the old elite in the Verkhovna Rada could be rather threatening for Zelensky as this would contradict his main pre-election message about changing that old elite.
Secondly, if the president starts reaching agreements with the deputies, each time this will be a situational "bullfight" around a certain idea. In general, such an algorithm for Zelensky's work with the Verkhovna Rada – submitting a law with a certain idea – is not the worst option for him, tactically. Parliament will either reject a bill or provide necessary votes. And such an algorithm gives the president the opportunity to put pressure on the deputies depending on the situation or weaken the parliament. In the end, it was in this way that his presidential campaign was conducted - he playfully imposed his initiative and pulled his opponents out of the political comfort zone.
Secondly, if the president starts reaching agreements with the deputies, each time this will be a situational "bullfight" around a certain idea. In general, such an algorithm for Zelensky's work with the Verkhovna Rada – submitting a law with a certain idea – is not the worst option for him, tactically
Personally, I'm not sure that Zelensky, at least for the first two months, will irritate the Verkhovna Rada with large bundles of bills: on change of power, tax issues, the balance between the branches of government, etc. Actually, for example, the draft law on impeachment, which is increasingly beginning to be discussed, is, first of all, an attempt by some parliamentarians to seize the initiative. That's because Zelensky himself spoke about such a bill earlier. And its adoption is possible at the moment (however, it is unlikely that such a bill will come into force before the new parliamentary elections) ...
But in the future, depending on how the cooperation with the parliament will be built, it is very likely that Zelensky will try to consider resonating bills counting precisely on them being registered in the Verkhovna Rada – so that even in case they fail to pass through the Rada he still has an opportunity to get back to them with the new parliament convocation, after the elections.
In another, worse scenario, there will be a conflict between the president and parliament.
It should also be noted that, most likely, Zelensky will not be able to dissolve the Verkhovna Rada. But in the short term, he will be able to raise the issue claiming that the old elite in the parliament does not allow the president to do anything whatsoever. In this case, the chances of his party, "Servant of the People", of forming a political majority, may increase.
Igar Tyshkevych is an expert of the "International and Internal Policy" program at Ukrainian Institute of the Future