Thursday, August 12, 2010

Constitutional Change a vexing question

Ukraine has to a degree restored  political stability following the defeat and ousting of Victor Yushchenko. With this change has also come a change in political direction.

In 2008/9 Ukraine was in debate and discussion as to how Ukraine would be best served by implementing Constitutional reform.

There was at the time concern about the then pending Presidential election. One proposal was to remove power from the President and let Ukraine's head of state by a constitutional Two-thirds majority parliamentary vote as is the case in Estonia, Latvia and Moldavia. The discussions and proposals were derailed primarily by the President Viktor Yushchenko who's on standing in Ukraine had collapsed from a high of 52% in 2004 to less then 5% (below below 2%). Ukraine as a result retained the presidential system and spent over 200 million dollars in conducting a Presidential election which was held in January/February this year.

Soon after taking Office Ukraine's newly elected president Viktor Yanukovych set up implementing reforms and consolidating his power and hold over Ukraine. Many of the changes were welcomed and help restore balance and stability some have been controversial, the most being the deliberation and ruling of Ukraine's constitutional court that overturned Ukraine "Imperative mandate" provision in Ukraine's Constitution.

Yanukovych, having previously advocated a parliamentary system is now seeking to restore Presidential authority and has advocated the cancellation of the 2004 Constitutional Amendments. According to Ukraine's Constitution the Constitution can only be amended with the support of two-thirds majority of the Parliament.

The only requirement for a referendum is when proposals are made to change the provision of Chapter I — "General Principles," Chapter III — "Elections. Referendum," and Chapter XIII — "Introducing Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine" even then it still requires the support of two-thirds majority of the Parliament.

Unless Yanukovych can secure the support of the existing Parliament the only way he can legally amend the Constitution is to hold fresh Parliamentary election and campaign for support for his visions and polices during the parliamentary elections. The polls indicate the Yanukovych''s Party of Region will secure a majority of a new parliament in its own right but will still require the support of Serge Tigipko "Strong Ukraine" in order to secure a constitutional majority. Serge Tigipko has indicated that his vote is up for sale and he would support the restoration of Presidential authority. If Ukraine adoption Yanukovych/Yushchenko's policy to restore Presidential authority it would be a backward step away from democracy and a way from Europe.

Leonid Kravchuk, Ukraine's first President, has raised this issue in an interview published in The Day

Ukraine is very much at the cross roads an issues of economic reform an constitutional rights are once at risk.