Thursday, December 13, 2007

Smackdown, Ukrainian Style

As Erik has been working assiduously on his book, he has also been watching the Ukrainian parliament sessions on television. As you may recall, the election in September gave the Orange Revolution forces a bare majority in parliament (assuming that they could keep their deputies in line). The new parliament opened and began its work to set up committees, elect a speaker, and choose the prime minister. All of these decisions have been controversial, none more so than the selection of the prime minister.

Over the last few days, the debate has heated up and boiled over. In the initial vote on Yuliya Tymoshenko's candidacy as prime minister, she received only 225 votes - one short of the required majority. As the vote was taking place, the speaker of parliament's card for recording his vote was taken by another member of parliament, preventing him from voting. Tymoshenko's party also alleged that the electronic voting system was rigged. The parliament is now debating the appropriateness of a re-vote based on existing laws and regulations, and whether or not this may be done by voice rather than using the electronic voting equipment. The proposed re-vote was delayed by a blockade of the dais, preventing the speaker from taking his place yesterday. Today, while a member of parliament was charging the speaker with violations of the law and regulations, his time ran out and the mic turned off (the speaker has been cutting off long-winded people all morning, with a 1-minute time limit on speeches). The deputy refused to leave the podium without a chance to finish his speech, and almost came to blows with another member of parliament who tried to physically remove him. Some photos of the drama are available on the site.

While the goings-on are chaotic and sometimes childish, the debate over procedures is actually refreshing. The idea that proper procedure should be followed seems basic, but the rule of law is a concept that is slowly catching on

No comments: