Will Volodymyr Zelenskyy Dissolve the Ukrainian Parliament?
15 May, 2019

One of the main questions to Ukraine’s president-elect Volodymyr Zelenskyy is whether he will dissolve the Parliament once he takes office. If that is the case, the next Parliament will be elected within the current election law - closed party lists and a “majoritarian” system.

However, if he does not immediately dissolve the Parliament, he and his team will have to decide by which rules will the Parliament be elected in October. Hromadske looks at the plans Zelenskyy’s team has for parliamentary elections.

If the status quo is maintained, on October 27, Ukrainians will head to the polls for the parliamentary elections. Until that time, President Zelenskyy will have to work with the existing one. Not only does Zelenskyy not have a majority in the Parliament, he does not even have his own faction.

READ MORE: Investigation Reveals Zelenskiy's Alleged Movers and Shakers

Under such conditions, the future president will only have two options: to convince MPs to support his initiatives or to call early elections.

Zelenskyy has already said he wants to have the option to dissolve the parliament. Since Ukrainian law does not allow the president to dissolve the parliament less than six months before the scheduled end of the current parliament’s session, Zelenskyy has a very limited time-frame. His team calculated he has until May 27 to do so.

Partly due to this reason, Zelenskyy keeps insisting his inauguration should be held on May 19.

However, the fate of the current Verkhovna Rada is in the hands of the MPs themselves. According to the Ukrainian constitution, it is the MPs who decide on the date of inauguration. On May 14, the Parliamentary committee postponed the decision on the inauguration date until May 15 when the Committee on the Rules of Procedure recommended for consideration seven different draft resolutions on the date of inauguration.

If MPs eventually agree on May 19 as the inauguration date, this will send a clear signal that they are ready for the dissolution of the Parliament by Zelenskyy, and early elections. However, if they set the date to May 28 or later, this will indicate the MPs do not trust Zelenskyy to handle the early elections.

Off camera, the MPs say that there will not be enough votes for May 19 as inauguration date.

Pavlo Vovk, head of Kyiv administrative court, has suggested Zelenskyy’s team use a loophole that would allow the dissolution of the Parliament up until June 14. He stresses the fact that the constitution states that the current session ends only when the next session of the new parliament begins. As things stand, the new parliament will start work on December 14.

If for one reason or another, Zelenskyy does not dissolve the Verkhovna Rada, another important question will arise. What will be the rules for electing the new parliament?

According to information obtained by Hromadske, Speaker of the Parliament Andriy Parubiy is preparing a draft motion to change the electoral law, wherein the “majoritarian” system would be divided by regions. Hence, the voters would choose the candidates from the lists, but the lists would differ among the regions.

However, the support for this new law would likely not be sufficient. Even among Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc deputies, half of the MPs were elected through the majoritarian system.

Returning to the closed list proportional electoral system would be most beneficial to the president-elect and his team. According to April polls by Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, Zelenskyy’s party “Servant of the People” was leading, with 25% of the voters ready to vote for it.

For Zelenskyy, it is easier to handpick a list of candidates, than to look for people, known locally in the regions, who could potentially win in an open list system.

However, the proportional system is also very beneficial to the oligarchs. It allows them to “stuff” the lists of various different parties with people, who would then serve as their “proteges” once in the Parliament in exchange for appearances on their media resources.

READ MORE: A National Casting: How Is President-Elect Zelenskiy’s Team Being Formed?

So, immediately after taking office, Zelenskyy will have to make an important decision. Does he support the new proposed open list system, a closed list proportional system, or the one that is in place right now - a mixed one?

In the first case, Zelenskyy will get respect from the international community, the public, and Speaker Parubiy. In the second - he will make oligarchs, political parties and, to some extent the majoritarian-opposing public, very happy. If he chooses the third option - nothing will change and he will have to learn to control the majoritarian delegates, just as his predecessors did.