The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the 8th convocation (Ukrainian: Верховна Рада України VIII скликання, Verkhovna Rada Ukrayiny VIII sklykannia) is the current convocation of the legislative branch of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's unicameral parliament. The 8th convocation meets at the Verkhovna Rada building in Kiev, having begun its term on November 27, 2014 following the last session of the 7th Verkhovna Rada. Its term will last five years and is scheduled to close its last session on November 27, 2019.
The 8th Verkhovna Rada's composition was based upon the results of the October 26, 2014 parliamentary election, which was contested eight months after the 2014 Ukrainian revolution which saw the overthrow of the Yanukovych regime. Ukraine's head of state during the parliament's term is President Petro Poroshenko. Eleven parties are represented in the Verkhovna Rada, although only six of them surpassed the mandatory 5 percent electoral threshold to gain representation based upon the proportional representation system.
On the first day of the parliament's session, five of the parliament's pro-European parties, the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, People's Front, Self Reliance, Fatherland, and Radical Party, signed a coalition agreement. Per the coalition agreement, the current convocation of parliament will be tasked with passing major reforms to ensure Ukrainian membership in European institutions such as the European Union and NATO, while dealing with the threat of further Russian aggression in the Donbass.
Further information: Ukrainian parliamentary election, 2014 in the section titled Background.
Prior to the parliament's official swearing-in ceremony, Volodymyr Groisman was the chairman of the parliament's preparatory deputy group, with Oksana Syroyid as deputy, and Pavlo Pynzenyk as the secretary. Two deputies, Vitali Klitschko, and Ihor Palytsia rejected their parliamentary mandates to remain in office as Mayor of Kiev and Governor of Odessa Oblast, respectfully. Meanwhile, the parliament's preparatory deputy group adopted a resolution which accepted Nadiya Savchenko's handwritten letter stating that she accepted her parliamentary mandate. Savchenko is currently held captive by the Russian government, after being abducted during the pro-Russian unrest.
A total of 27 constituencies were not elected due to various events taking place in the country. A total of 10 constituencies in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and two in the City of Sevastopol were not elected due to the 2014 Crimean crisis and subsequent annexation of Crimea by Russia, while a further nine constituencies in Donetsk Oblast and six constituencies in Luhansk Oblast were not elected due to the ongoing War in Donbass. Elections in these regions can only take place after the re-introduction of Ukrainian control over these territories.November 27, 2014: Arseniy Yatsenyuk is confirmed as Prime Minister for a second term with 341 votes in favor.
December 2, 2014: The second Yatsenyuk Government is approved with 288 votes in favor.
December 23, 2014: Ukraine's status as that of a neutral non-aligned country, one of the coalition's key points of action, is removed with 303 votes in favor.
December 25, 2014: The National Security and Defense Council's jurisdiction and authority is expanded with 316 votes in favor.
December 29, 2014: Along with a collection of other economic policy laws, the 2015 Ukraine budget is approved with 233 votes in favor.
On November 27, 2014, the parliament elected Volodymyr Groysman from the Petro Poroshenko Bloc as the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada. The parliament's chairman, first deputy chairman, and deputy chairman are all unaffiliated people's deputies according to parliamentary procedure. Oksana Syroyid is the first woman to ever hold a deputy chairman position in the Verkhovna Rada.
Since November 28, 2014, the 8th Verkhovna Rada consists of a total of 420 people's deputies, which belong to one of six political party factions, two parliamentary groups, or the 38 unaffiliated people's deputies. For the first time in Ukrainian history, the Communist Party has failed to gain representation in the Verkhovna Rada.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR), which had 40 seats in the previous parliament's convocation, did not participate in the election independently. For the 2014 parliamentary election, UDAR merged their electoral lists with that of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, being allocated 30 percent of bloc's electoral list.
A large portion of the 8th Verkhovna Rada are freshmen people's deputies who did not have any prior legislative service. This convocation of parliament also has the largest representation of women in the Ukrainian parliament for the first time in history. While the women participation rate in parliament is lower than the 25.3 percent average of the OSCE member states, 49 of the deputies in parliament are women (approximately 12 percent).
Out of the newly elected deputies, 410 of them possess an academic degree; a further 144 deputies possess two or more such degrees. Fifty-four deputies are currently candidates for doctoral sciences, while 27 of them already possess a doctoral degree. The oldest member of parliament is the Opposition Bloc's Yukhym Zvyahilsky, who was elected from a constituency seat in northern Donetsk.
On November 21, 2014, the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, People's Front, Self Reliance, Fatherland, and Radical Party signed a coalition agreement. The coalition consists of a total of 302 deputies, which is more than the constitutional majority required by the constitution. The coalition agreement prioritized on a number of key points, namely:
Meanwhile, the parliamentary opposition consists of the Opposition Bloc faction, People's Will, and Revival. The Opposition Bloc represents politicians from the Party of Regions, which formed the Second Azarov Government and the majority caucus in parliament after the 2012 elections.
On December 4, 2014, the Verkhovna Rada approved the composition of its 27 committees and one special control commission. On December 11, 2014, parliament voted in favor of recalling all of the deputies who voted for the January 16th "dictatorship laws" of the previous convocation from their positions in committee leadership. Deputy Chairman Oksana Syroyid proposed this measure, which was adopted with 264 votes in favor.Numbers in parenthesis indicate the number of deputies in each committee and the special control commission
On December 11, 2014, the Yatsenyuk Government presented its course of action for the following year. It was proposed that the number of deputies in parliament be decreased to 150. According to estimates, adopting such a constitutional amendment would save ₴424 million annually (approx. US$26 million). As part of a separate reform effort, the governing coalition proposed removing parliamentary immunity for deputies.
In the Verkhovna Rada, impersonal voting (referred to as button pushing, from the Ukrainian: "кнопкодавство") has been a serious problem in parliament for many years. The deputies of the current convocation to vote impersonally have already been recognized less than a week into parliament's first session. Members of the nationalist Svoboda political party, which was elected into the parliament's previous convocation, proposed making deputies criminally liable for impersonal voting and banning them from holding any future parliamentary mandates. Members from the coalition's Petro Poroshenko Bloc have also recognized the need to ban impersonal voting.