Thursday, April 19, 2007

PACE report calls on Ukraine to adopt a Full Parliamentary System

The Council or Europe - Parliament Assembly has called on Ukraine to adopt a full parliamentary system in line with European Standards

"It would be better for the country to switch to a full parliamentary system with proper checks and balances and guarantees of parliamentary opposition and competition."

The PACE: Explanatory memorandum presented to the Assembly meeting held on April 19 by Mrs Severinsen and Mrs Wohlwend, co-rapporteurs on Ukraine raised concern about the inevitable conflict of power under Ukraine's Parliamentary-Presidential system between the Parliament and the President.

The report states: "The failure to establish clearly defined and law-based institutions to guarantee in practice separation of power, democratic rights and freedoms, by providing for an effective system of checks and balances is at the very heart of the political struggle that has unfolded in the country over recent months and sparked into an open crisis upon the dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) by the President of Ukraine on 2 April 2007"

As co-rapporteurs of the Assembly's Monitoring Committee, we are deeply concerned about the political and legal implications of President Yushchenko's decision and the constitutional, institutional and political crisis that has unfolded thereafter. Even more worrying is the fact that the crisis has paralysed many already seriously ailing institutions which should be guaranteeing democracy, rule of law and human rights
The undecided question on competencies and limits of different branches of power first led to a considerable confusion over the formation of the majority coalition and the new government following the March 2006 legislative elections, and has ever since evolved into an incessant tug of war between the President and the Prime Minister.
The parliamentary–presidential system opted for by the Ukrainian lawmakers in 2004 has an in-built structural problem: it can work smoothly only if the presidential and parliamentary powers represent the same political vision. Cohabitation works in the case of highly mature democracies, which is not the case in Ukraine. Largely because of this structural cohabitation dilemma, all established European democracies apart from France (Also Cyprus) have opted for the fully parliamentary form of governance.

What we have also seen since the establishment of the current parliamentary majority coalition and the formation of PM Yanukovych's government is the struggle to move towards a fully parliamentary system, which in the existing constitutional order has been perceived by the opposition as usurpation of power by the majority.

Although Ukraine understandably has its own historic reasons to avoid the accumulation of power into the hands of one political force, it should nevertheless consider in the course of future constitutional amendments whether it would not be better for the country to switch to a full parliamentary system with proper checks and balances and guarantees of parliamentary opposition and competition.