KIEV, Dec. 9 – Yulia Tymoshenko will probably be approved as Ukraine’s next prime minister on Tuesday, Parliamentary Speaker Arseniy Yatseniuk said Sunday. If the vote fails, he said, this would mean the collapse of the pro-Western coalition.
President Viktor Yushchenko submitted Tymoshenko’s nomination to Parliament on Thursday and her candidacy must be debated and voted in Parliament within five days, according to legislative regulations.
Tymoshenko needs to collect at least 226 votes to become the prime minister, but the vote may prove to be a challenge since the pro-Western coalition commands only 227 votes in the 450-seat Parliament.
Speculations were there over the weekend that the vote may fail to get enough support amid reports that at least one coalition lawmaker, Vladyslav Kaskiv, had recently undergone a surgery and perhaps could not be available to vote.
But Yatseniuk rejected the speculations.
“It’s practically not realistic,” Yatseniuk said in an interview with Inter television aired Sunday night. “If this happens, this would be the end to the democratic coalition.”
Yatseniuk, a choice of Yushchenko, was approved as the speaker of Parliament on Dec. 4 days after the pro-Western coalition had been created. The vote commanded 227 lawmakers in support as Tymoshenko group’s all 156 lawmakers and Our Ukraine-People’s Self-defense’s 71 out of 72 lawmakers had voted to back the nomination.
“The fact that Yatseniuk secured 227 seats to secure the speaker's chair is encouraging as it suggests that Our Ukraine-People’s Self-defense deputies can support the party whip,” Timothy Ash, an analyst with Bear Stearns International in London, said.
But Tymoshenko vote may prove to be different.
“Yatseniuk had very strong backing in Our Ukraine, whilst Tymoshenko has a solid core of opponents within Our Ukraine,” Ash said. “It is still touch and go in our minds.”
Ivan Pliushch, Yushchenko’s former security advisor and a strong critic of Tymoshenko, was the only Our Ukraine lawmaker who had failed to vote for Yatseniuk. He is expected to skip the vote on Tymoshenko.
But at least one Tymoshenko’s Our Ukraine opponents, former Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov, said Sunday that Tymoshenko he will vote for her nomination despite disputes over economic program. He also said he was confident that Tymoshenko will secure 227 votes on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, talks were underway with the group led by former Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn.
“The Lytvyn block signaled that it might just back Tymoshenko for the vote, albeit presumably they would want something in return,” Ash said. “This could give Tymoshenko a clear majority, given the block has 20 deputies in Parliament.”
“In the event that Tymoshenko fails to win majority backing, she is secure in leading the opposition in the run up to the 2009 presidential elections (arguably the big prize),” Ash said. (tl/ez)