Tuesday, July 10, 2007

September Poll

A contest of Presidential Dictatorship versus Parliamentary Democracy

Reports in the media are speculating that the September parliamentary elections may well end up becoming a referendum on Ukraine reverting to a presidential dictatorship or retaining a system parliamentary democracy.

Ukraine's president Viktor Yushchenko wants to regain power the power that he lost when Ukraine opted for a parliamentary democracy as opposed to a presidential system.

Yushchenko has claimed that the constitutional changes that were adopted in 2004 were done so in haste. He has conveniently ignored that fact that there was two years discussion on proposed changes to Ukraine's constitution and that the transition from a presidential dictatorship to a parliamentary democracy has seen Ukraine begin to fall in line with all other European states. All of which are parliamentary democracies

With just over 10 weeks until the September poll, comments in the media indicate that Yushchenko may call a snap referendum on the question of constitutional reform. The president having trashed and ignored Ukraine's constitution and deliberately undermined the functioning of Ukraine's legal system is now placing his bets on the belief that Ukraine will support a reversal of direction away from a European Style democracy and return to a system of presidential rule. Of course this is best done in haste with little time given for proper and informed debate.

Any proposed changes to Ukraine's constitutional order should be considered outside of then political election cycle and prior to the next Presidential elections due in 2009. Yushchenko himself was elected n the understanding that Ukraine would make the transition from presidential to parliamentary rule.

There are more checks and balances under a parliamentary system of governance then there is under a presidential system. The executive government is held to account on a daily basis by the parliament where as under a presidential system there is little to no accountability.

The Parliamentary Assemble Council of Europe (PACE) has called on Ukraine to adopt a full parliamentary system in line with other European states. yet the president is embarking on a campaign of living Ukraine away from a European style of democracy.

The presidential party has proposed the creation of a bicameral parliament which on the surface would appear to provide more accountability, but much depends on where the true power lies. If Ukraine falls back on adopting a presidential system than any benefits of a bicameral system would not exist. power and the right of governance would lie in the hands of one individual as opposed to a council of the peoples representatives.

Any decision to hold a snap referendum would need to be considered with skepticism.

If there is to be a referendum then the President should fulfill and honour the petition signed by over 4 million Ukrainians requesting a public referendum on question of Ukraine joining NATO.

If a referendum on parliament versus presidential system is to be held then it should be prefaced with reference to adopting a full parliamentary system in line with other European states or adopting a US style presidential system, then and only then will Ukraine be Abe to make an informed decision as opposed to one that is presented by stealth.