Ukraine constitution becomes more presidential

Following the “Orange Revolution” at the end of 2004, Ukraine’s parliament passed a package of constitutional reforms that stripped the presidency of the power to appoint and dismiss the premier and cabinet. Under the reforms, following a parliamentary election, a majority coalition had to form before a prime minister could be appointed; the president had to accept the choice of this coalition, and the government depended on the exclusive confidence of the parliamentary majority.

These reforms have now been reversed by a ruling of the constitutional court (CSM, DW). So Ukraine will again be a president-parliamentary system, instead of the premier-presidential system under which it has functioned in recent years.

The court has ruled that constitutional procedures were violated in the passage of the reforms. This is an awfully long time after the changes came into effect to be finding their enactment to be inadmissible!

The practical political effect is that the President Viktor Yanukovych, the very candidate that the “old regime” tried to install through the fraud that sparked the Orange Revolution and who won the presidency earlier this year, is now strengthened. He won the presidential election earlier this year, after one term of the pro-Western Orange candidate, Viktor Yushchenko.

At the time of the Orange Revolution, it was the people around Yanukovych who insisted on weakening the presidency and empowering the parliamentary majority. The parliament at the time had been elected in 2002, and was dominated by old-regime loyalists. Now Yanukovych has not only the office of the presidency, but also the restored power of the pre-Orange institution.

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