Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The April Fool’s Day. Ukrainian Parliament scheduled presidential election to be held three months earlier than it was expected – on 25 October 2009.

The Parliament of Ukraine has decided today to schedule the next presidential election on 25 October 2009. Just to remind, previously most of MPs and experts suggested the election of President has to be held in January 2010 – 4 years after the Inauguration day. The decision of Verkhovna Rada was a kind of an answer to the Presidential address to Parliament (yesterday).

Actually the real background of today’s vote of Ukrainian Parliament is hiding not exactly in the speech of the President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko, and even not in his unexpected idea to change a Constitution by himself, or to introduce a two-chamber Parliament with a rather weak Lower House.

There is a rumor that the Presidential Secretariat has already drafted a Decree to dismiss the current Parliament and to call for a snap parliamentary election in a nearest future. To stay ahead, all the parliamentary factions united in common decision: to cut the presidential term of Mr. Yushchenko for 3 months. The second, but not less significant goal of the MPs was to secure their immunities: the Constitution says the Parliament shall not be dismissed during 6 months before presidential election.

401 of MPs voted in favor of “25 October”, 7 – the Presidential part of Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defence faction (United Center party) – voted against. Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, member of OU-PSD, addressed his colleagues during the parliamentary debates: “What are we afraid of? Early parliamentary election? Dear Mr. Speaker, do you have information on the respective Decree of the President? Please, make this information public!”

What's next? Viktor Yushchenko is going to challenge the decision of Parliament in the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. “This decision is not legal, this decision does not correspond to the Constitution”, he said today. “All of them are going to lose before the October… The election will be held in due time, provided by the Constitution of Ukraine”.

The version of the Constitution of Ukraine acting in 2004 (when Mr. Yushchenko was elected) says the presidential election should be held every four years. A current edition of the Constitution provides that the President shall be in power during four years after he assumed the office.


UkrToday said...

Ukraine can not afford to have a prolonged Presidential campaign.

Yuschenko wants to cling on to power and force Ukraine to hold a presidential election in the middle of January in the midst of Ukraine's bitter cold winter for the sake of three months.

Rather then oppose the Autumn elections Yuschenko should be supporting it. If need be Yuschenko should offer his resignation so that Ukraine had decide who is best to be their head of state. A mid winter election campaign is not in Ukraine's best interest.

UkrToday said...

I find it amusing to hear Yuschenko complain about the decision of the parliament not being constitutional. A case of do as he wants and not what he does. His actions back in 2007 were most certainly illegal and unconstitutional. His response was to ignore the constitution and law going so far as to illegally and unconstitutionally interfering with the independence and operation of Ukraine's Constitutional court in order to prevent the court from ruling against his decrees.

On April 19 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) passed a resolution in consideration of a report titled Functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine. (Items 13 and 14) stated:

“ The Assembly deplores the fact that the judicial system of Ukraine has been systematically misused by other branches of power and that top officials do not execute the courts’ decisions, which is a sign of erosion of this crucial democratic institution. An independent and impartial judiciary is a precondition for the existence of a democratic society governed by the rule of law. Hence the urgent necessity to carry out comprehensive judicial reform, including through amendments to the constitution.
Any form of pressure on the judges is intolerable and should be investigated and criminally prosecuted.
The associated explanatory report under the sub-heading of Pressure on the courts expressed concern that "Several local courts have made decisions to suspend the Presidential Decree only to then withdraw them, allegedly under pressure from the presidential secretariat." (item 67)

In emphasis the report (item 68) stated

"This is a worrying tendency of legal nihilism that should not be tolerated. It is as clear as day that in a state governed by the rule of law judicial mistakes should be corrected through appeal procedures and not through threats or disciplinary sanctions ”

Yuschenko is guilty of the very thing he is now has cause to complain about. the main difference being that his crime was much more serious.

Yes I think the decision to hold elections in October is limited by the Constitution. But the decison taken by the parliament is appropiate even if the means are not "techncially correct,

Rather then play Constitutional games, Yuschenko can and should facilitate an early poll in Autumn unconditionally by offering to resign.

Ideally Ukraine would make provisions in any future constitutional reform for a fixed date for the holding of elections. if need be the term of office would be adjusted to accommodate the nominated date. Such as the third Sunday of September or what ever date was adopted).

The USA always hold their election in November and the successful candidate takes office on a nominated date in January.