Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 174

On September 21 the Socialist Party’s Political Council adopted a political resolution “On Suspending President Leonid Kuchma’s Powers Before the Expiration of His Term.” It instructs the party and its organizations to launch a signature-collecting campaign on a proposal to hold a national referendum of no-confidence in the president.

The Council also decided to call the Socialist Party’s congress in December, and to recommend to the congress to nominate party leader Oleksandr Moroz as a candidate in next year’s presidential election. The Council described Moroz as the strongest possible joint candidate of leftist and left-of-center forces.

Also on September 21, the parliament’s communist first vice-chairman, Adam Martinyuk, announced that more than 230 (out of 450) deputies have signed a motion in favor of adding to the parliamentary agenda the issue of the government’s resignation (UNIAN, Eastern Economist Daily (Kyiv), September 21-22).

The Socialist endorsement is a fully expected, routine step toward launching Moroz’ candidacy. The accompanying resolution, however, is far more significant because it may transform the presidential race into a constitutional confrontation.

Elements of a constitutional confrontation were present in the Moroz-Kuchma relations during Moroz’ tenure as chairman of parliament from 1994 to 1998. Moroz used his powers in organizing leftist resistance to market reforms. He also opposes the executive branch policy of cooperation with the West, and is a vocal opponent of Ukraine’s relations with NATO. His 1994-98 first deputy and current chairman of parliament, Oleksandr Tkachenko of the Peasant Party, looks set to support Moroz’ candidacy. The Socialist and Peasant parties form a joint parliamentary caucus.

Moroz had prefigured his and the Socialist Party’s strategy in July when he called for the formation of a left-of-center bloc, based on the Communist and Socialist parties, to support his candidacy against Kuchma. But the idea to impeach Kuchma and to call a national referendum of no-confidence in the president has just been launched by Hromada Union leaders bent on personal revenge against Kuchma. The Socialists have now thrown their strength behind that destabilizing initiative (see the Monitor, July 28, September 3, 10).–VS