So, Ukraine has chosen its new, sixth President. It is Vladimir Zelensky, who has swept to a landslide win in the second round of presidential elections against current head of state Petro Poroshenko. The voting results (73 per cent for Zelensky) indicate that the disregard to the current government has never been that universal in Ukraine ever before.
Zelensky's election tactics of not making any policy statements and public appearances until the last moment has fully justified itself. For the time being everyone can see the new President as someone they want to see. The defeated regime's opponents consider him a symbol of the former quiet Ukraine.
Maidan romantics regard his success as a return to the popular movement's origins, which insidious Poroshenko betrayed. In other words, for a huge number of Ukrainians, the actor who played the part of President Goloborodko on the screen and in the real world, became a symbol of reliance and hope. "I am the result of your mistakes and promises," Zelensky summed up these sentiments during the debate.
But now he has to declare the policy he is going to pursue and, what is even more important, in what way. Zelensky's campaign headquarters announced the following priorities: reforms of the judiciary system, the Security Service of Ukraine and anti-corruption authorities. Besides, a number of laws is planned to be prepared and submitted to the Ukrainian parliament, Verkhovna Rada, including those on the rule of the people, the expansion of direct democracy norms, the removal of parliamentary and presidential immunity, the recall of people's deputies, the immunity of judges, as well as the impeachment law.
However, Ukraine is a dual executive system with capacities of the president being limited. To implement the proposed measures Zelensky needs to rely on the majority in Verkhovna Rada. But it is not yet possible. In the current situation, Rada dissolution and early elections could certainly be Zelensky's strong move. However, article 90 of the Constitution of Ukraine significantly limits the president's capabilities.
In order to dissolve the unfriendly Rada that is entirely controlled by Poroshenko, 150 deputies need to give up their mandates. Experts refer to the following figures: some 85 to 100 deputies can support Zelensky and cede their creds ahead of schedule. But that is not enough. Another option, i.e. proving that the ruling coalition (Bloc Petro Poroshenko (BPP) and People's Front) does not actually exist, is next to impossible either.
What about changing the government? Such a step will have to be coordinated with the Verkhovna Rada, because the established procedure requires to submit a candidate for approval twice, and if he fails to ensure support, it will be possible to start the procedure of dissolving the parliament. And it's not a quick thing.
What about ending the war in the Donbass region? A presidential decree may work here, but the decisive word will be up to the deputies. And the latter oppose the cessation of hostilities. What about cancelling extortionate utility tariffs? The government can easily talk around an order of this kind.
As regards the Donbass region, Zelensky announced his intention to launch a public information campaign to convince people that Ukraine needs these territories and it is therefore vital to have them back. According to his election campaign team's spokesman Dmitry Razumkov, Russia put forward the best proposals for a possible establishment of a peaceful environment in the Donbass region.
He noted that accepting them is impossible due to "Ukrainian patriotism", because the settlement of the extremely unstable situation must necessarily take place subject to Kiev's conditions. It appears like "we want peace and what is proposed by Moscow will lead to peace, but we cannot agree to it, because thus we will recognize our loss." It is therefore unclear to what extent Zelensky's team and he himself are ready to resolve this serious political conflict.
Zelensky has repeatedly said that former "Regionnaires" and oligarchs are going to be out of power. But it is still unclear how Zelensky is going to offset the political influence of Rinat Akhmetov, Igor Kolomoisky, Victor Pinchuk, and Dmitry Firtash. And Petro Poroshenko does not apparently intend to give up as well. Moreover, the nearest future will see the president-elect facing the bosses of Ukrainian politics head-on.
The ongoing period of political "doldrums" entailed a number of political conflicts breaking out in Ukraine. The Verkhovna Rada adopted a law on a total Ukrainization, which has been met with a mixed reception in various parts of the country. And the Central Election Commission, Zelensky argues, delays the counting of votes, while security forces and anti-corruption crusaders are involved in conflicts with each other.
Zelensky's election brought discussions on the transition to a parliamentary regime up to date. And the risk is high that deputies can play a dirty trick on Zelensky, voting for the transition. And here even Zelensky's "fellow traveler" Yulia Tymoshenko will support her fellow deputies, with the figure of the president of Ukraine turning into a cardboard decoration. And Poroshenko, in control of the Rada (someone will cede a deputy mandate to him right away, the fraction is not a small one after all), will keep controlling the entire country.
Considering the complicated procedure for changing the fundamental law, the parliament proposes to adopt a law “On President” which significantly limits the rights of the head of Ukraine and transfers part of his powers to the Prime Minister and the parliament.
A bill of this kind was registered last week by the Self Reliance party (one of the document's authors is Verkhovna Rada Deputy Chairman Oksana Syroyid). According to Syroyid, the law is aimed not to limit the power of the President but to bring it in line with the Constitution.
Complicating the process of power transfer, Poroshenko's team is trying to reinforce its standing ahead of the parliamentary elections, as well as to form a certain basis to create a new political brand to be used for these elections (now it is inferior to Zelensky's "Servant of the People" and "Opposition platform – For Life" chaired by Yuriy Boyko, Vadim Rabinovich and Viktor Medvedchuk).
As a result, a number of Ukrainian experts are sure that there is an absolutely unparalleled internal mess unfolding in Ukraine, which none of us has ever seen.