The first day of Vladimir Zelensky's stay in the role of President has been much more successful than could be expected. For he seems to have hastily decided on dissolving the Verkhovna Rada, even though a week ago such a scenario appeared next to impossible. So, having resumed the plenary sessions on May 14, the Ukrainian parliament did not even include the inauguration issue in the agenda, with no social pressure noticed.
The parliament hurried only after the G7 ambassadors met with Petro Poroshenko on May 15 to call for a smooth transfer of power. The next day, the Rada made up its mind about the date of the President's entry into office, but it was May 20, not the 19th, as Zelensky wanted.
And on May 16, speaker Andriy Parubiy reported that the People's Front faction withdrew from the coalition, with the latter stopping to exist for lack of most of the MPs. Such a move was intended to guarantee Rada's resistance and the holding of a parliamentary election on time, that is October 27. The Constitution gives the deputies a month to create a new coalition, and if this does not happen, the President has a right to dissolve the parliament.
But the Constitution prohibits dissolving the Rada during the last half of its term. The same day Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman also opposed an early election, proposing that the deputies along with the newly elected President "determine the agenda that unites us", including the issues being a matter of principle to Zelensky: the removal of parliamentary immunity and the transition to a proportional electoral system.
But in his inaugural speech on May 20, the newly elected President called for the resignation of the government and announced the dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada, inviting the deputies to adopt the mentioned laws within two months before the election, as well as to dismiss the SBU head, the Prosecutor General and the Defense Minister.
It is clear that the new President needs an early election as soon as possible. After all, according to a poll conducted by the Rating Group and the Social Monitoring Center, if they were held in the first decade of May, Zelensky's Servant of the People party, an essentially virtual structure, would ensure the support of nearly 40 percent of those intended to vote. Which means that under a proportional system it would get half of the seats, and in case of abandoning the majority component it would be able to unilaterally form a majority.
On the other hand, the survey showed that it is too risky for Zelensky to wait until late October. After all, answering the question as to when it will become clear that the new President coped with his role, 36 percent of respondents chose the option "in a year", 26 percent – "in six months", and 22 percent – a lesser figure, but not exceeding 100 days.
Thus, in five months after Zelensky takes office, many voters, including those from his own electorate, will already decide on their view of his ability to lead the country. And if he proves unable to impose his will on the Verkhovna Rada, many of his current advocates will inevitably fail to support his party.
However, announcing the dissolution of the parliament, the new President did not even mention the constitutional basis for this step. Logically, it can be only one – the actual lack of a proper number of deputies in the coalition, which has been the case for more than a month. But as I already said in the previous article, this is rather hard to prove. However, in Zelensky's draft decree disclosed on May 17 the date of the coalition's absence was as late as February 16, 2016. It follows logically that re-establishing the coalition in April that year and confirming the Groysman government are illegal, although no one spoke about it at the time.
It is clear that whatever wording was chosen to dissolve the Rada (and Zelensky's decree has not appeared at the time of writing this article), it will be legally questionable, to put it mildly. However, there is one more clear thing: the parliament and the government will not resist this. And the new president's key success is that he forced them to agree with the Rada dissolution even ahead of any formal legal justification, and thus avoided a political crisis.
All doubts were removed during a briefing by Volodymyr Groysman on Monday night. After all, it is the government that allocates money for early elections and is therefore able to block them. But the Prime Minister only said he tried to build a sequence of actions with Zelensky for the next parliamentary election, but the President went his own way, and therefore "took full responsibility for everything that happens next."
Later that evening, Groysman called on the head of state to immediately nominate a new Prime Minister. The reaction of the former coalition of the PPB and the People's Front is limited to the following formula: the dissolution is unconstitutional, but we will take part in a new election. Other political forces are clearly enthusiastic about the vote.
The non-resistance of the Rada and the Cabinet is usually explained by the fact that attempts to prevent Zelensky from holding a parliamentary re-election would finally bring down the rating of those behind this. But since until recently the majority of the Rada behaved insolently towards the newly elected President, there is one more admissible hypothesis: the West asked them not only to speed up the inauguration, but also to agree over an early election. The following considerations militate in favor of this hypothesis.
First, the West needs stability, not a political crisis, and a parliamentary election held three months earlier will ensure a stable Ukraine even sooner. Secondly, support for the unpopular Rada against the new leader elected by a huge majority would cost the West its rating in Ukraine.
In case of the establishment's confusion the new President would receive ample opportunity in solving the issue of Donbass. In any case we can't fail to see that in his inaugural speech Zelensky spoke about it in a slightly different way as compared to his own election campaign, and especially as compared to Poroshenko.
After all, the new President managed to do without such expressions as "Russian aggression", "terrorists", "expanding the Normandy format", "control of the border", "information war" and other marker concepts. He stressed the need of unpopular decisions – compromises – for the sake of peace.
And this is worth paying attention to, despite the fact that press releases about the meetings of the new leader with western, in particular American, representatives contained the good old-fashioned rhetoric with calls for new anti-Russian sanctions.