The Superiority of Parliamentarianism

January 29, 2010

Extract from Open Democracy

Ukraine’s Window of Opportunity

16 January 2009


It should be noted that not only Moscow’s “political technologists,”but also a number of serious international political scientistsadvocate presidentialism, and see this form of democracy as superior toparliamentary systems – the world’s oldest democracy, the US, being theobvious example. However, concerning the specific challenges that youngdemocracies are facing, study after study have shown that the strongera new republic’s parliament is the better the chances are that genuinepolitical pluralism will survive and that the novel system ofgovernment will consolidate.

Notably, these findings are not outcomes of theoreticalconsiderations by experts who may have a preference for this or thatform of government. Instead, the inference that parliamentarianism isbetter for an emerging democracy than a presidential orsemi-presidential system is based on empirical research and resultsfrom more or less wide-ranging cross-national investigations. Theconclusion for a country like Ukraine is that, in order to become amore stable and effective democracy, it should transform sooner ratherthan later into a parliamentary republic. While political conflictswill continue to be fought ferociously in such a system, they willhappen within the parliament, and not between parliament and president.Coalition building will become the major feature of the politicalprocess, and replace such strategies as brinkmanship, intimidation andbluffing prominent during intra-executive confrontations insemi-presidential systems. Parlamentarians able to build bridgesbetween political opponents and not ideologists whipping up theirpolitical camps will take center-stage. Apart from that, for Ukraine,simply saving the costs of another round of elections, and having onlyone national poll every four years will help to save much money andenergy that is dearly needed to further reform and stabilize this youngnation-state.

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The Eonconmist review

January 21, 2010

The Economist has an excellent article in review of Ukraine’s modern political history

The Swing analysis between the 2004 presidential election, 2007 Parliamentary election and last Sundays vote shows that there has been little overall movement in voters support/allegiance in Ukraine. Whilst in theory the election could be close much of it depends on the split of secondary alternative support from Minor candidates who did not make it into the final round ballot.

Ukrainian banker turn presidential candidate Oleh Tihipko (Whom two of my good friends in Kyiv who work in the banking sector voted for) spent over 100 million dollars in his campaign with much of his support coming from Kyiv and the Eastern and Southern regions of Ukraine. Dnepropetrovsk being his strongest region. (See voter distribution maps below).

The real issue and problem with Ukraine finding its stability, was its decision to retain the soviet style presidential system. Had Ukraine adopted a parliamentary model as did all other Soviet Communist countries (Estonia and Latvia in particular), that are now part of the EU, Ukraine would have been much further down the track to being a stable independent nation.

Viktor Yushchenko has consistently opposed Ukraine adopting European values and European models and a parliamentary system of governance. His dismissal of the parliament in 2007 which caused seven months of political and civil unrest, was primarily aimed to prevent moves afoot to remove the president from power. In 2008 he again sought to undermine stability in Ukraine’s parliament following attempts by the Tymeshenko government to reform Ukraine’s constitutional structure and consider a parliamentary model.

In 2004/5 as part of the agreement to hold a third round re-run ballot Ukraine took a significant step towards a parliamentary system but left in place as a compromise a president with significant and counter productive powers in place. Power that would only work provided the president and parliament were reading from the same page or even the same  book.

In 2007 the Parliamentary Assemble of the Council of Europe recommended that Ukraine become a full parliamentary democracy in line with other EU states.

Viktor Yushchenko instead has proposed that Ukraine take a backward step and revert to a presidential autocracy where the President would appoint the government and have absolute power and control over the Parliament and the courts.

Ukraine is at a cross roads, It needs to relay the foundation stones and rebuild it’s democratic structures. Adopting a European parliamentary system along the lines of Estonia and Latvia would be the best option.

As long as Ukraine retains the soviet style presidential system it will continue to falter and suffer ongoing power struggle and conflict of authority between the president and the people’s democratically elected parliament.


Standing at the edge – waiting to jump

December 12, 2009

Ukraine’s presidential election is not a contest but will determine Ukraine’s future direction.
 
In 2004 Ukraine made an important step forward when it adopted amendments to it’s constitution.  In doing so it took an important step towards democracy and European integration.
 
A strong head of state does not equate or necessitate a return to a soviet style presidential system
 
The proposals put forward by Viktor Yushchenko and supported by the likes of Viktor Medvedchuk would see Ukraine revert back to a Soviet style Presidential autocracy and in doing so would prevent Ukraine from becoming anything other then an associate member of the European Union.
 
Ukraine needs a head of state who truly values democracy and understand the need and long term benefits of Ukraine embracing a European parliamentary system of governance.
 
25 out of 27 EU states are governed by a parliamentary system. France and Cyprus being the only two that are not.  France is an established parliamentary-presidential system. It has protocols, conventions and limitations to presidential authority.  Cyprus is in need of serious reform.
 
If Ukraine reverts back to a presidential system then Europe should make it clear that in doing so it runs the risk of forsaking any hope of ever becoming anything other then an associate member state.
 
Ukraine has not known anything other then how to be dominated by autocratic figures. It has never been and will never be an independent democratic state under a presidential authority.
 
If Ukraine wants to become an independent European state then it must embrace self governance and take collective responsibility for its own destiny. It must become a  full parliamentary democracy.
  
The European Council – Venice Commission should be requested to draft a model constitution and encourage member states to consider adopting its provisions.  Any prospective member state should be assessed on the basis of the model.  The model should outline basic human rights provisions and guarantee the rights of fair democratic representation based in the principle of one vote one value.


Ukraine’s new coalition is official Our Ukraine – Peoples Self Defence agree to the revised coalition

December 16, 2008

Kyiv Post have reported that the Our Ukraine and People’s Self Defence faction have formally decided to re-form a governing coalition with Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko and Bloc Lytvyn to the desperate cries of dissatisfaction from supporters of Ukraine’s embattled President Victor Yushchenko.

The decision of the President’s faction is a clear sign that Yushchenko’s policies of division and undermining of Ukraine’s Democratic government have taken their toll. Had Ukraine been forced to another round of Parliamentary elections Our Ukraine, who had slumped in public opinion polls to below 4%, ran the risk of losing representation in the new parliament.

The determination of the faction to support a realignment with Ukraine’s governing party promoted the resignation of the leader of the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense Bloc faction, Viacheslav Kyrylenko, and his deputy Roman Zvarych. Both had played a crucial role in undermining the government’s success. Roman Zvarych was the man responsible for the failed negotiations that lead to the collapse of the Orange Revolution Alliance and the decision of the Social Party of Ukraine to form a governing coalition with Party of regions and the Communist party of Ukraine back in 2007

The new alliance which includes bloc Lytvyn, whose leader was elected as Speaker and potential successor to Yushchenko, is widely seen as a serious blow and loss of face for Ukraine’s President who has lost all respect. Victor Yushchenko has twice sought to dismiss Ukraine’s parliamentary government bring the country close to civil unrest and collapse and in the process he has undermined Ukraine’s economic and democratic development.

The people of Ukraine have grown weary of the President’s power struggle and his term of office. Yushchenko failed to deliver on the Countries expectation since the 2004 Orange revolution that saw him elected to office. The President’s dramatic fall from grace has been tormentuous if not spectacular from a high of 52% in 2004 to a dismal 4% in 2008.

It is unclear as to Yushchenko’s next move. Technically he can force though fresh elections but to do so would be a oaramount to treason and rejection of the democratic process. Whilst he had the authority to dismiss the parliament it is doubtful that he can do so now.

There are some that claim Yushchenko is on borrowed time. An agreement has been reached to allow the President to see his term of office out but much of that depends on what actions the president takes.

If he continues his attack on Ukraine’s democratic coalition then the agreement may come unstuck. There are reports on the media that Yushchenko will use the budget and threat of blocking supply as his next weapon of attack. If he does this will only exacerbate Ukraine’s economic crisis and further undermine public confidence in the Office of the President.

Come next summer the President loses the power and authority to dismiss Ukraine’s government. Ukraine will move into the process of election of a new president and it is unlikely that Yushchenko, given his poor performance, will be supported for re-election. Without the support of Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko or Party of Regions Yushchenko’s termof President has come to an end.


Ukraine’s new coalition is official Our Ukraine – Peoples Self Defence agree to the revised coalition

December 16, 2008

Kyiv Post have reported that the Our Ukraine and People’s Self Defence faction have formally decided to re-form a governing coalition with Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko and Bloc Lytvyn to the desperate cries of dissatisfaction from supporters of Ukraine’s embattled President Victor Yushchenko.

The decision of the President’s faction is a clear sign that Yushchenko’s policies of division and undermining of Ukraine’s Democratic government have taken their toll. Had Ukraine been forced to another round of Parliamentary elections Our Ukraine, who had slumped in public opinion polls to below 4%, ran the risk of losing representation in the new parliament.

The determination of the faction to support a realignment with Ukraine’s governing party promoted the resignation of the leader of the Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense Bloc faction, Viacheslav Kyrylenko, and his deputy Roman Zvarych. Both had played a crucial role in undermining the government’s success. Roman Zvarych was the man responsible for the failed negotiations that lead to the collapse of the Orange Revolution Alliance and the decision of the Social Party of Ukraine to form a governing coalition with Party of regions and the Communist party of Ukraine back in 2007

The new alliance which includes bloc Lytvyn, whose leader was elected as Speaker and potential successor to Yushchenko, is widely seen as a serious blow and loss of face for Ukraine’s President who has lost all respect. Victor Yushchenko has twice sought to dismiss Ukraine’s parliamentary government bring the country close to civil unrest and collapse and in the process he has undermined Ukraine’s economic and democratic development.

The people of Ukraine have grown weary of the President’s power struggle and his term of office. Yushchenko failed to deliver on the Countries expectation since the 2004 Orange revolution that saw him elected to office. The President’s dramatic fall from grace has been tormentuous if not spectacular from a high of 52% in 2004 to a dismal 4% in 2008.

It is unclear as to Yushchenko’s next move. Technically he can force though fresh elections but to do so would be a oaramount to treason and rejection of the democratic process. Whilst he had the authority to dismiss the parliament it is doubtful that he can do so now.

There are some that claim Yushchenko is on borrowed time. An agreement has been reached to allow the President to see his term of office out but much of that depends on what actions the president takes.

If he continues his attack on Ukraine’s democratic coalition then the agreement may come unstuck. There are reports on the media that Yushchenko will use the budget and threat of blocking supply as his next weapon of attack. If he does this will only exacerbate Ukraine’s economic crisis and further undermine public confidence in the Office of the President.

Come next summer the President loses the power and authority to dismiss Ukraine’s government. Ukraine will move into the process of election of a new president and it is unlikely that Yushchenko, given his poor performance, will be supported for re-election. Without the support of Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko or Party of Regions Yushchenko’s termof President has come to an end.


Viktor Yushchenko kills off democracy in Ukraine Ukraine faces its third Parliamentary election in as many years

October 8, 2008

Viktor Yushchenko has dismissed Ukraine’s Parliament in what is a planned execution and power play in a battle of supremacy – President versus Parliament struggle for power.

Yushchenko has undermined Ukraine’s parliamentary system of governance from day one.

His latest attack on democratic values came minutes after the President meet leaders of the parliamentary factions.

In what was a calculated and deliberate blow to the “democratic alliance” and ideals portrayed by the Orange revolution Viktor Yushchenko’s party, Our Ukraine, exposed their true persona and colors. Yushchenko has turned on his former revolutionary comrade and previous supporter, Yulia Tymoshenko, and hammered in the last nail in the Orange Revolution’s coffin. There is no turning back and there will be no reunited push for change. As long as Yushchenko remains in office Ukraine will never be a true democratic state.

Link to Yushchenko’s pre-recorded speech (Russia Today)

A Case of the tail wagging the dog

Our Ukraine was the cause of the collapse of the Orange Coalition in 2006. At every stage they have acted to undermine Ukraine’s Parliamentary System

Viktor Yushchenko, who has less then 5% support in the public opinion polls, has pinned his colors to the mask and declared war on democracy.

A President in denial suffering from delusions of grandeur.

In an incredible display of self deceit Yushchenko tried to rewrite history and deny facts by claiming the he did not dismiss Ukraine’s Parliament in 2007.

On April 2 2007, Viktor Yushchenko unconstitutionally dismissed Ukraine’s democratically elected Parliament. In doing so he brought the country close to civil war, dividing and destabilizing the country like no other person in Ukraine’s short history of independence. In June 2007 he illegally interfered with the independence of Ukraine Constitutional Court to prevent the Court from ruling against his decree. To this day, following Yushchenko’s interference, the Constitutional Court has not ruled on the rights or wrong of the President’s actions.

Today’s announcement is a further power play and another attempt to undermine Ukraine’s economy and political stability. Ukraine is left to suffer and pay the cost of Yushchenko’s divisive action.

It is too early to say how the Parliament will react to this latest act of lunacy. Short term gains and self interests prevent Ukraine’s Parliamentary factions from uniting to defend democratic values and the nation itself.

If the polls are a true indication of voter’s intention then it will be back to square one. The President’s faction may yet pay the ultimate price as the electorate rejects Yushchenko’s latest ploy. It may abandon the political process, disillusioned and in despair. Ukraine could transit into anarchy, reminiscent of the Yeltsin years.

The Winter election comes at the worst time as Ukraine’s economy takes a beating along with the world following the collapse of the US financial system. A time when Ukraine needs stability first and foremost.

Fresh elections will not resolve the underlying structural issues facing Ukraine.

The likely outcome, as has been forewarned by many commentators is that Yushchenko may try an instigate a Presidential coup. If the current political crisis results in civil disobedience, as was the case last year, Yushchenko may use that as the excuse to declare a state of emergency and impose presidential rule. Should any united opposition to the President manifest itself the president will try and use force to assume control as was the case in Georgia earlier this year. It is unclear if the army will follow his orders or if they will side with the Parliament.

Yushchenko’s decision to prolong political instability in Ukraine has been a deliberate attempt to prevent Ukraine from taking decisive steps to limit the President’s power and adopt a European Parliamentary system of governance.

A majority of the Parliament supports Ukraine becoming a parliamentary democracy but they can not come together and remain united in order to bring about change. Yushchenko by dismissing the parliament hopes to prevent Ukraine from becoming a parliamentary democracy.

Without constitutional reform and limitations to presidential power Ukraine will continue to suffer political instability for many years to come. Irrespective of the outcome of the fresh election Ukraine will remain seriously divided with a loss of confidence in the democratic process and systems that bind a democratic nation.

Yushchenko has done more harm to prevent Ukraine’s European integration and democratic development then any person in the history of Ukraine.

If anybody should be facing the people of Ukraine it should be the President not the Parliament.


Viktor Yushchenko kills off democracy in Ukraine Ukraine faces its third Parliamentary election in as many years

October 8, 2008

Viktor Yushchenko has dismissed Ukraine’s Parliament in what is a planned execution and power play in a battle of supremacy – President versus Parliament struggle for power.

Yushchenko has undermined Ukraine’s parliamentary system of governance from day one.

His latest attack on democratic values came minutes after the President meet leaders of the parliamentary factions.

In what was a calculated and deliberate blow to the “democratic alliance” and ideals portrayed by the Orange revolution Viktor Yushchenko’s party, Our Ukraine, exposed their true persona and colors. Yushchenko has turned on his former revolutionary comrade and previous supporter, Yulia Tymoshenko, and hammered in the last nail in the Orange Revolution’s coffin. There is no turning back and there will be no reunited push for change. As long as Yushchenko remains in office Ukraine will never be a true democratic state.

Link to Yushchenko’s pre-recorded speech (Russia Today)

A Case of the tail wagging the dog

Our Ukraine was the cause of the collapse of the Orange Coalition in 2006. At every stage they have acted to undermine Ukraine’s Parliamentary System

Viktor Yushchenko, who has less then 5% support in the public opinion polls, has pinned his colors to the mask and declared war on democracy.

A President in denial suffering from delusions of grandeur.

In an incredible display of self deceit Yushchenko tried to rewrite history and deny facts by claiming the he did not dismiss Ukraine’s Parliament in 2007.

On April 2 2007, Viktor Yushchenko unconstitutionally dismissed Ukraine’s democratically elected Parliament. In doing so he brought the country close to civil war, dividing and destabilizing the country like no other person in Ukraine’s short history of independence. In June 2007 he illegally interfered with the independence of Ukraine Constitutional Court to prevent the Court from ruling against his decree. To this day, following Yushchenko’s interference, the Constitutional Court has not ruled on the rights or wrong of the President’s actions.

Today’s announcement is a further power play and another attempt to undermine Ukraine’s economy and political stability. Ukraine is left to suffer and pay the cost of Yushchenko’s divisive action.

It is too early to say how the Parliament will react to this latest act of lunacy. Short term gains and self interests prevent Ukraine’s Parliamentary factions from uniting to defend democratic values and the nation itself.

If the polls are a true indication of voter’s intention then it will be back to square one. The President’s faction may yet pay the ultimate price as the electorate rejects Yushchenko’s latest ploy. It may abandon the political process, disillusioned and in despair. Ukraine could transit into anarchy, reminiscent of the Yeltsin years.

The Winter election comes at the worst time as Ukraine’s economy takes a beating along with the world following the collapse of the US financial system. A time when Ukraine needs stability first and foremost.

Fresh elections will not resolve the underlying structural issues facing Ukraine.

The likely outcome, as has been forewarned by many commentators is that Yushchenko may try an instigate a Presidential coup. If the current political crisis results in civil disobedience, as was the case last year, Yushchenko may use that as the excuse to declare a state of emergency and impose presidential rule. Should any united opposition to the President manifest itself the president will try and use force to assume control as was the case in Georgia earlier this year. It is unclear if the army will follow his orders or if they will side with the Parliament.

Yushchenko’s decision to prolong political instability in Ukraine has been a deliberate attempt to prevent Ukraine from taking decisive steps to limit the President’s power and adopt a European Parliamentary system of governance.

A majority of the Parliament supports Ukraine becoming a parliamentary democracy but they can not come together and remain united in order to bring about change. Yushchenko by dismissing the parliament hopes to prevent Ukraine from becoming a parliamentary democracy.

Without constitutional reform and limitations to presidential power Ukraine will continue to suffer political instability for many years to come. Irrespective of the outcome of the fresh election Ukraine will remain seriously divided with a loss of confidence in the democratic process and systems that bind a democratic nation.

Yushchenko has done more harm to prevent Ukraine’s European integration and democratic development then any person in the history of Ukraine.

If anybody should be facing the people of Ukraine it should be the President not the Parliament.