Formally, legal terms for the dissolution of the Parliament in order to hold elections in the fall of 2018 expire in June. In a week, the parameters of political competition and conditions for conducting a presidential campaign in the camp of Poroshenko will be determined. On June 18-22, the Parliament will hold the final session, where it is planned to consider the government’s report and decide whether to dismiss Volodymyr Groysman. In fact, Groysman’s political future depends on his personal decision on gas prices in addition to the approval of the government’s report.
Ukrainian political elites have successfully overcome the challenge associated with the adoption of the bill on the High Anti-corruption Court. In addition, the adoption of this decision completely removed talks on early parliamentary elections in the fall of 2018 from the agenda.
However, Volodymyr Groysman’s rigid win-win statement about the possible resignation on the eve of the vote exacerbated his relations with the BPP and the President.
A week earlier, during a governmental meeting the Prime Minister delicately trolled his main ally Arseniy Yatsenyuk. In addition, the main shareholders of the PF are alarmed by the fact that Groysman began to openly cooperate with the Speaker of the Parliament Andriy Parubii.
In fact, Groysman demonstrates his full subjectity and readiness for an independent campaign in politics to the West, internal stakeholders, oligarchs and civil society.
Therefore, such a political courage and complete autonomy of the Prime Minister may lead to his resignation and aggravation of political competition at the end of June.
In this regard, there are two basic scenarios for the development of the political situation.
Scenario 1. Voluntary or forced resignation of Groysman
Significant increase in gas prices is one of the key conditions the Ukrainian government must fulfill for obtaining a loan from the IMF. Groysman is reluctant to sign such an unpopular decision, as it can override all his positive achievements.
It is possible that the President and the BPP will start openly pressuring Groysman either to sign an unpopular decree on raising gas prices or resign.
Groysman will be forced to choose between personal ratings/political ambitions and financial stability for the whole country.
Secondly, the parliamentary approval of the government’s annual report, which is scheduled for June 20, remains subject to question. If the Parliament recognizes the performance of the government unsatisfactory, it will be a legitimate reason for the resignation of the entire Cabinet of Ministers. In any case, the government has many vacancies that can be divided among potential partners, or in exchange for support – the Fiscal Service, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Agrarian Policy, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Information Policy, etc.
Under this scenario, according to the legislation, the Parliament shall appoint a new government. Until the approval of the new government, ministers would work in the “acting” status.
Stepan Kubiv most likely, would be an acting Prime Minister – an ideal candidate for the President at the time of the campaign. It should be noted that the votes for the resignation of Groysman can be found in the Parliament, but new appointments might become a difficult issue for consensus.
It is possible that such a government would be left in limbo until the end of the fall of 2018, when the presidential campaign will be in full swing. Then the President would be able to dissolve the Parliament and appoint parliamentary elections in sync with the presidential in March 2019.
Scenario 2. The Cabinet unchanged – Groysman remains in office
This scenario is the most probable.
Despite certain misunderstandings between Groysman and the PF, Yatsenyuk’s faction is unlikely to vote for the recognition of the work of the government of Groysman unsatisfactory. The PF does not want to completely give its influence in government to the Presidential Administration. In addition, the resignation of Groysman and the strengthening of Poroshenko’s position in the government before the launch of the campaign is not beneficial to Batkivshchyna, Samopomich and the Radical Party. As regards the issue of rising gas prices, the Prime Minister may postpone this decision for a while, with the help of bureaucratic procedures (leave, sick leave, endless approvals with the relevant ministry and other bodies). Some people convince Groysman that the negative effect of rising gas prices would have a greater impact on Poroshenko, rather than on him personally. Moreover, the real increase in gas prices would be felt by citizens only with the onset of cold in December-January of 2019.
If Groysman remains in his position, there will be a high level of conflict between the Prime Minister and the President, while the last will require a maximum of political PR and government support in the conditions of campaign. Therefore, the presidential team will be forced to negotiate with Groysman or seek ways to neutralize him through anti-corruption and security forces.