Year’s milestones. President’s attempts, concealed coalition, and seemingly cool Cabinet
2015 was the year of unfulfilled hopes for Ukraine. The president tried to implement reforms on strategic directions and gently redistribute power in his favor. The Verkhovna Rada was hardly effective throught the year when it was safeguarded from being dissolved. The Cabinet of Ministers reminded of an invigorating civil servant who is chronically ill, but ready to trick the system to avoid layoff.
Give the current conditions, the very fact that Ukraine remains on the political map of Europe at the end of 2015 should be seen as a positive. Among the success stories of the past year is the build-up of the Armed Forces and reduced intensity of the hostilities in Donbas. Most other political events can be interpreted in many ways.
For example, Petro Poroshenko has sought to ensure decentralization and judicial reform. The transfer of the power from the capital to the regions was seriously overshadowed by the situation in Donbas and the chronic inability of the authorities to prove conclusively that decentralization is indeed a right thing Ukraine. Judicial reform is no argued so much by the President’s opponents, but has yet to be adopted in its final form. Petro Poroshenko can hardly be satisfied with the performance of the MPs who got to the parliament under his banners. Rada’s largest parliamentary faction is more successful in generating scandals than promoting coherent political decisions. It seems that being a ruling party in Ukraine is a curse for any ambitious political force.
The Verkhovna Rada has failed to work in a “war mode” and show its maximum involvement in refuting the Russian aggression. The lawmakers seem to have adopted the principle of "we work like we are paid," although the deputy salaries is not the main source of income for most of them. The scandals and mutual accusations have completely replaced the legislature’s commitment to raise the national interests over the private ones and those of the party. The development of inner relations within the European Ukraine coalition is nothing but strife. Although the majority of those surveyed by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation do not want early elections, the claims to the parliament elected after the Revolution of dignity continue to grow.
The Government led by Arseniy Yatsenyuk continues to break records. The lawmakers have been mulling the reshuffle in the Cabinet (and the change of the Prime Minister, frankly speaking) since the spring of 2015, but the Cabinet continues its work with a virtually unchanged lineup. It’s just the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources, Ihor Shevchenko, fell victim to stubborn radicals of Oleh Lyashko, and three ministers - Alexander Kvitashvili, Andriy Pivovarsky and Yuriy Stets chose to resign, but the MPs are in no hurry to give them their freedom. Yatsenyuk tried to present adoption of the budget for 2016 as a vote of confidence in his Cabinet, but the alert Speaker Volodymyr Groysman, who denies any ambitions to lead the Government, recalled the relevance of a reshuffle in the Cabinet of Ministers. It is obvious that Arseniy Yatsenyuk will defend his namesake Avakov, the Minister of Interior, drawn in a notorious and epic confrontation with with Odesa Governor Mikheil Saakashvili, the new Russian political culture "for the elite." At the same time, I should note that Saakashvili’s anti-corruption enthusiasm would have looked less impressive if the government’s fight against corruption was not just words.
Local elections have not become a serious political turmoil. Although the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko-Solidarity is leading across the country, there’s no way it can enjoy a monopoly status. In each area, unique coalitions were created to divide and rule at the local level. Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna has confirmed its systemic nature as a political force. Svoboda Party has, in fact, returned to the top league of big politics, and UKROP [Dill] has harvested a considerable amount of votes in several regions.
Having survived one of the most difficult years in its recent history, Ukraine remains a country with hardly predictable policy and unclearly formed tasks for the near future. Meanwhile, the emergency reserves of stability are almost gone, which makes the need for real change ever apparent.