Friday, September 21, 2007

Ukraine's Indecisive, Divisive, Illegal and Unconstitutional Election

A recipe for disaster

In one weeks time Ukraine will go to the polls.

Public opinion polls are showing that Ukraine remains bitterly divided as it was back in 2004.

Next weeks election will only further divide Ukraine and add to the loss of confidence in the political process

The results of the election are unknown but what is known is that only the victor will support the outcome and who ever is the loser will reject it. If Yulia Tymoshenko loses the election she will once again claim that the results of the ballot was fraudulent. If she wins her opposition will claim likewise.

Earlier in the week the Government had cause to seriously question the conduct of the election, the role played by Ukraine's President and the ongoing question and doubt of the legality of the president's actions.

The ngovernment has made allegations levelled at the president's secretariat of not respecting the oath of office and becoming embroiled in the political campaign. Imagine a situation where the Queen of England, or any other head of state, dismisses the parliament and then actively advocates support for thier chosen party.

In reality the situation is likely to get worst before it gets better.

It is more then likely that Ukraine's next government will not be formed following the election irrespective of who wins next weeks ballot.

What ever the final results of the election are, the outcome, will have a negative impact and Ukraine may very well face a even worst period of dissent and disputation then it has experienced in past elections.

Had the situation in Ukraine occurred in a western democracy the actions of the head of state would have been ruled unconstitutional in that the Constitution does not provide the authority for the president to dismiss the parliament under the current circumstances.

The main cause of dissension and loss of confidence is to be found in the basis of the election and the president's unconstitutional decrees dismissing Ukraine's democratically elected parliament.

Unlike in other circumstances where there are grounds for early elections there is no political division or loss of confidence that has prevented the formation and functioning of government.

The government in Ukraine maintains the support of a majority of the elected representatives as was demonstrated by the fact that 260 out of 450 members parliament attended the recent parliamentary session.

The only cause of disputation is an ongoing power struggle between the office of the president and the parliament. The situation has been made worst by the president's illegal interference in the operation of Ukraine's Constitutional Court which has prevented the Court from ruling on the legality of the president's actions.

The president's decrees and actions are in direct breach of Article 5 of Ukraine's Constitution in that the president has sought to usurp power where he has no authority.

The European Council also must share blame for the loss of confidence and exacerbation of political division in Ukraine.

Whilst the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe back in April 19 this year rightly called on Ukraine to resolve its divisions internally it failed to ensure that actions of the president and the resolution put in place was legal and in compliance with Ukraine's constitution.

PACE has by its silence, effectively endorsed by a lawless state and allowed the current situation where Ukraine is now facing a serious breakdown in the constitutional order and a potential state of political anarchy . If this occurs then it is the executive leadership of PACE that must be held share responsibility and be held accountable for their actions.

5 Comments:

AAD said...

Though I fully appreciate your focus on the “indecisive, divisive, illegal and unconstitutional” nature of Ukrainian elections, as pertains to the upcoming Verkhovna Rada elections, I find your root of the illegitimacy of the elections to be somewhat misguided. You specifically point to the recent unconstitutional actions taken by President Yushchenko as the cause for the supposititious nature of the looming parliamentary elections. The central source, you say, for the “dissention and loss of confidence [in the government] is to be found in the basis of the election and the president’s unconstitutional decrees dismissing Ukraine’s democratically elected parliament”. I would like to disagree with you here. Prime Minister, Viktor Yanukovich, if anyone, is to blame for the possible unconstitutional outcome of these future elections. His reputation as an Eastward leaning, oligarchic supporting, Putin-friendly politician is widely known. Moreover, was he not the villain of the last presidential elections, and more importantly, the culprit, whose falsification catalyzed the Orange Revolution? Though you are completely correct in highlighting the illegality of Yushchenko’s recent actions, as they are indeed unconstitutional, I doubt that he is the center of our worries. May we not forget that he is currently stifled by the parliament (led by Yanukovich), and is thereby unable to pass any legislation: certainly not any democratic, westward leaning legislation. Why? Because this would prove detrimental to the schemes of Yanukovich, his financial backers the oligarchs of Ukraine, and his close pal Putin. And as such, the question becomes: is it more important that Yushchenko has overstepped his presidential boundaries in an attempt to regain the power he lost to Yanukovich in the last parliamentary elections? Or rather, should we shun him for his undemocratic actions (in a country that has never been fully democratic) and further prolong the prospect of a truly clean Ukrainian government?

Online Editor said...

AAD 8:46

I disagree the unconstitional dismissal of Ukraine parliament by its head of state is most certainly undemocratic. It is a case of the president seeking to ride roughshod over the political process to usurp power.

Parliament is and must remain supreme. The president lost support in 2006 when his party's vote collapsed from 24% in 2002 to 13% in 2006

The constitution set-outs the rules and limitations in sharing power. For a head of state to act unconstitutionally and then interfere with the operation of the Constitutional Court in order to prevent the court from ruling against him is reprehensible.

Such action would never have been allowed under western democracy.

This is not about 2004 (And I have my doubts about Yushchenko's claim to have won the second round.)this is about now.

Yushchenko's actions are divisive and undermine Ukraine's democratic development. As a result of this election will never be respected win or lose. It should never happen. Yushchenko has cause more harm then good and it can be seen as nothing more then a cheap plain and simple grab for power. An illegal presidential coup.

AAD said...

Thank you for responding with such haste, I truly appreciate it! Again, I must stress that I do wholeheartedly agree with your argument that Yushchenko has illegally usurped power. Though, he was the hero of the Orange Revolution, his recent actions have proven otherwise. Nevertheless, I am rather surprised at your "doubts about Yushchenko's claim to have won the second round" of the 2004 presidential elections.I am intrigued as to what factors have caused this skepticism. Moreover, would you argue that any other member of the Ukrainian government, Yanukovich in particular have acted constitutionally? You argue that today's political environment in Ukraine (in the lead up to the elections on Sunday)should not be related in any form to that of 2004. In contrast,sadly I would have to argue that in essence very little has changed. With that said, slow reforms have been set in motion,however, Ukraine is still eons away from truly being a fair and "western democracy". As such, I am not condoning Yushchenko's actions, but rather questioning the validity in blaming him as the principal instigator in Ukraine's future electoral troubles. If you don't mind me asking, which party are you in support of for the parliamentary elections? Again, I thank you for replying, I can't tell you how difficult it is to find someone knowledgeable with which to discuss Ukrainian political affairs.

Online Editor said...

factors have caused this skepticism?

I guess first and foremost it has been his recent actions and the extent of Liesa, abuse and misinformation by Yushchenko's suppers that have caused me top question the veracity of the claims made.

On what basis do I have doubts about the second second round in 2004? Well there is no evidence that he had won the second round. The extent of anomalies recorded in the election do not outweigh the margin in the results. Statistically rerun elections generate a 4-6% swing against the government or winning party. Given that Yushchenko won the third round on around 52% of the vote would indicate his vote in the previous round was around 46 to 48% evenly divided.

The courts when considering the case did not quantify the full value of the number of votes that were being disputed and compare that with the margin. There is no dispute he won the third round.

To me that is no relevant and it moist certainly does not apply to the question of legitimacy and rights related to the current parliament (V convocation)

Yushchenko's party lost overwhelming the 2006 Parliamentary Election. Our Ukraine was the main reason why the Orange coalition fell apart and failed to form an orange government. Our Ukraine's indecisiveness and delay in the months following the 2006 election seriously weakened the Orange cause. Remember it was Our Ukraine that continues to seek negotiation and had doubts about Yulia regaining office.

That said I think the current government is a vast improvement on previous governments. there are far more "checks and balances" under a parliamentary democracy then under a presidential dictatorship.

There is no cause and justification for the parliaments dismissal. just because the parliament did not support the president and there was the potential that a constitutional majority supporting the initiatives of the government is not one of the ground listed in Article 90 of Ukraine's constitution and nor does the president ave absolute power.

The dismissal of the parliament is a very serious step and it must be justified and constitutional. Yushchenko's actions were neither.

The 11 members who opted to support the governing coalition did not resign from their fact or joined another faction. Had they done so unde3r the terms of Ukraine's constitution they lose their right of mandate. Even then the crossing of the floor does not provide cause for Parliament's dissolution. (read Article 90 of Ukraine's Constitution) Come October 5 Yushchenko may have legal grounds to terminate the authority of the parliament but not before then and not necessarily for the right reasons.

Imagine if George Bush decided to dismiss the Congress and or Senate because he did not agree with their decisions.

So if there is no legal basis for the parliaments dismissal then the elections itself is also illegal It becomes nothing but an adventure a very expensive and divisive public opinion poll.

Elections in themselves are not democratic. Democracy is not about elections. It is about rule of law and the way in which a society is governed. The parliament was not divided and there was no loss of confidence in the parliament.

Sure I would like to see a fast pace of change but change does not happen overnight. Ukraine will not be out of poverty and a member of the EU overnight. It is evolution not revolution that will see Ukraine develop into a democratic country. The formation of a parliamentary democracy was the first step, a step on the right direction.

Yushchenko's actions have serious set back Ukraine's democracy and his policies seeking a return to presidential rule is a retrograde step.

On one hand he claims he has insufficient power yet on the other he obviously has too much power. again I point out that there are more checks and balances under the current system then there was under the presidential rule by decree system.

Yushchenko may win a battle but he has lost the war. He has undermined Ukraine's rule of law and democracy itself. Te division and loss of confidence he has created will not be resolved in holding fresh parliamentary election. Fresh presidential elections may assist. Yushchenko should have accepted the suggestion that both Parliament and President face re-election. Better still Ukraine should become a full parliamentary democracy in line with other European States.

Online Editor said...

Sorry i missed your last question

Which party do I support...

First I do not have a vote. I am not a Ukrainian Citizen I am independent in that respect.

Its more of a question who would I not support, a question of policies and who can best govern Ukraine.

I most certainly do not advocate support for Our Ukraine. Under the current circumstances I would advocate support for the current parliament and the existing government, as long as they maintain the support and confidence of the parliament.

I also believe in having a preferential voting system as opposed to the single cross party list system. Who ever will win this unconsititutional lawless election will not have the support or mandate from a majority of voters. The 3% threshold is undemocratic. There are better and more democratic methods of electing representatives.

I advocate the creation of multi-member local electorates. Each electorate returning nine members elected on a 10% quota by a system of preferential voting. Under such a system 5% of voters will be represented by someone of their choosing as opposed to the current system where only 72% of voters are represented. Our Ukraine proposes to reduce that to less then 50%.