Thursday, October 01, 2009

Putting out Fire with gasoline

Yushchenko's Constitutional Reforms Anti Democratic

Viktor Yushchenko continues to push for his Constitutional reform.

If implemented it would spell the end to Ukraine as a democratic state. Instead of being a democracy Ukraine would become a Presidential autocracy.

Holding an open public debate where Yushchenko's version of constitutioanl reform is the only item up for discussion is not the way to go about seeking reform

Yushchenko can not legally change Ukraine's Constitution without the support of the Parliament.

Ukraine's Constitution can not be amended before the next Presidential election. 

The Parliament is the only body that can amend Ukraine's Constitution.

In accordance with Chapter XIII: Ukraine's Constitution can only be amended with the consent of no less than two-thirds of the constitutional composition of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

In addition amendments to Chapter I — "General Principles," Chapter III — "Elections. Referendum," and Chapter XIII — "Introducing Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine," can only be amended by the parliament of Ukraine on the condition that it is also approved by an All-Ukrainian referendum designated by the President of Ukraine.

Any proposed Constitutional amendment also requires review by Ukraine's Constitutional Court and can only be finally agreed to at the next regular session of the Parliament following the date in which the Parliament first gave its consent. The next regular session is not until February 2010 and it is highly unlikely that Ukraine's Parliament will agree to any amendments prior to the Presidential elections in January 2010. The earliest any reforms can be considered would be September next year . So what's the rush and should there not be other alternative options?

Yushchenko knows he can not change the Constitution without the support of the parliament. So why is he pushing his reform package? The reason is simple Yushchenko hopes to sell the notion that his proposed Constitutional reforms are the solution to Ukraine's problems. They are not.

Yushchenko versus Yatseniuk

Yushchenko currently has less then 4% support. His main rival at this stage is Arseniy Yatseniuk, Yushchenko needs to boost his support to such an extent that he can match or prevail on Yatseniuk to withdraw from the race. Yushchenko hopes that Yatseniuk's support will transfer across and that the combined vote will put him ahead Yulia Tymoshenko and progress into the final face-off against Yanukovych.

As long as Yatseniuk and Yushchenko run against each other neither will progress to the final second ballot. Each one can only survive if the other withdraws.

Parliament versus President

Yushchenko seeks to play off the Parliament against the President in the hope that he will attract enough support from those who want to see Ukraine have a strong President. The problem is Yushchenko is not a strong President and he will most likely not be elected to enjoy the powers he now seeks. The powers he advocates will be invested in who ever wins the 2010 election.

So Yushchenko is playing a game of Russian roulette and he is hoping that the battle between the President and the Parliament will set him aside and give him a lift up. It's a big gamble and one that is built of straw. This strategy requires the country to come close to breaking point and the people of Ukraine being fooled into thinking that Yushchenko's proposed reforms are the solution to Ukraine's problems.

Proposed reform would exacerbate the problems and divisions in Ukraine. 

If anything Yushchenko's proposed reform would exacerbate the problems and divisions in Ukraine. Yushchenko's reforms are not democratic and will not resolve the conflict and divisions between the Office of the President and then Parliament. If implemented they would bring Ukraine to closer to breaking point and eventually possible civil war.

Presidential autocracy versus democracy

Yushchenko wants Ukraine to take a backward step and become a Presidential autocracy where the President would have absolute power and absolute control. the president would have absolute power over the courts, the government and the parliament. The parliament would have limited authority and if it is not to the President's liking he can dismiss the parliament without limitation or just cause.

Yushchenko's undemocratic Senate

Yushchenko's proposed senate is the only safeguard but it will not be a democratic. The Senate has an inbuilt bias towards Western Ukraine at the expense of Eastern and Southern Ukraine. The Senate's mandate will be based on Ukraine's regional Oblasts with each Senatorial region electing the same number of Senators. Zakapattia with just over 300,000 constituents will elect three senators the same as Donetsk with 2.6 million constituents. The undemocratic representation will create cause for resentment not unity.

Yushchenko's Senate can not be held accountable as it can not be dismissed. One third of the Senate will face election every two years with the same set of voters electing all three Senators by a first-past-the-post voting system. It is easy to see resentment escalating to the point where the system will be denounced outright by Eastern and Southern Ukraine who will feel cheated and denied a fair equal right of representation.

President's impeachment impossible

The fairness of the proposed senate is further diminished by the fact that the senate is the only body that can seek to impeach the president, made even harder by the requirement that the President can only be impeached if found to have intentionally committed a crime. Given that the President holds absolute immunity the chances of the President being convicted of a crime is virtually impossible short of determined civil unrest and a peoples uprising.

Yushchenko's President would have more power then the Russian Tsar.

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