Friday, September 24, 2010

Changing Court.


Stacked Justice
President Viktor Yanukovych (second from left) shakes hands in this Aug. 17 photograph with close ally Volodymyr Kolesnichenko, head of Ukraine’s High Council of Justice, which appoints judges. Anatoly Golovin, also a close presidential ally who heads Ukraine’s Constitutional Court, is at left. Oleksandr Pasaniuk, head of the High Administrative Court, is at right. All three are recent appointees. (Mykhailo Markiv)

Stacked Justice

Source: Kyiv Post - Graham Stack, Peter Byrne and Yuriy Onyshkiv
Ukrainians will almost certainly get major changes to the Constitution, whether they like it or not.

To change the Constitution in a way that gives him and future presidents more power, President Viktor Yanukovych will benefit greatly from a friendly Constitutional Court that ratifies any new document.

But have his supporters stacked the 18-member judicial body with Party of Regions supporters to ensure that the court sanctions whatever the Presidential Administration wants?

That’s what it looks like after four new justices were sworn in by parliament on Sept. 21, only days after Ukraine’s Congress of Judges dismissed their predecessors who may have been obstacles to strengthening presidential power.

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Ukraine on the precipice: Democracy or autocracy

Ukraine's Constitutional Court will commence consideration of what will be one its most significant decisions in Ukraine's history. It will decide if Ukraine winds back the clock and restore a presidential autocratic state.

One of the main outcomes of the 2004 "Orange Revolution" was Constitutional reform negotiated as part of a settlement of the civil unrest and crisis facing Ukraine. The constitutional changes saw Ukraine remove power from the central presidential authority and shift more towards a European style Parliamentary democracy.

The Presidential system of authority has been the main problem facing Ukraine's development since its declaration of independence. Unlike other former soviet states such as Estonia and Latvia Ukraine did not adopt a parliamentary model of governance. It instead kept the soviet/US style presidential system. A system that has consistently failed Ukraine.

In order to understand Ukraine;'s current situation you need to look back over the last five years of Viktor Yushchenko's Presidency and the events that have unfolded since the Orange Revolution of late 2004.
Ukraine move towards a more democratic form of government was undermined by the previous President Victor Yushchenko who proved to the worst president. Elected to office with the support of 52% of the people Yushchenko divided Ukraine and betrayed all those who had invested trust and hope for something better.

Oleksandr Moroz was the main driving force for democratic reform, He stood against Viktor Yushchenko in the 2004 Presidential first round of election and lost coming in third place. Moroz then decided to support Viktor Yushchenko election. Without the support of Moroz and the Socialist Party Yushchenko would not have won the disputed second round ballot and the "Orange revolution" would have failed .

Yushchenko's fall from grace came when he and his party "Our Ukraine" refused to support the formation of a governing Orange coalition following the 2006 Parliamentary elections. Yushchenko and "Our Ukraine" attacked their coalition partner, the Socialist Party of Ukraine. lead Oleksandr Moroz. Yushchenko refused to share power and appoint Moroz and the Socialists to the position of Parliamentary speaker. A three months stand-off ensured as Yushchenko's party tried to negotiate the formation of an altrenative governing coalition with the oppsoition Party of Regions.

In order to avoid a Constitutional crisis and new parliamentary election the Socialist Party,  much ro Yushchenko's dislike, managed to secure the agreement to form a new coalition between Party of Regions lead Viktor Yanukovych (Yushchenko's main opponent in the 2004 Presidential elections) and the Communist Party of Ukraine. Yanukovych was subsequently elected Prime minister

The inevitable stand-off between the democratically elected parliament and the office of president continued to generate conflict.

In April 2007 Viktor Yushchenko, in a grab for power, unconstitutionally dismissed Ukraine's parliament Yushchenko in May 2007 then illegally interfered with the independence of Ukraine's Constitutional Court in order to prevent the court from ruling against his degree dismissing the Parliament Yushchenko actions caused a constitutional political crisis and seven months of civil unrest that Ukraine to edge of collapse.

Refusing to also face the people Yushchenko forced the state to hold new parliamentary election. The outcome of the election had hardly changed and Ukraine was just as divided as it had been. The Socialist Party's had secured 2.86% falling shot by 0.14% of the three percent threshold. The remaining coalition partners Our Ukraine and Yulia Tymoshenko block held on to slender majority of parliamentary by one seat.
This created an unstable government and allowed factions within the Presidential alliance to undermine the newly elected parliamentary government lead Yulia Tymoshenko.

The infighting and division continued with Yushchenko and his coalition partners in a constant state of disunity and disagreement.

In August 2008 Viktor Yushchenko unsucessfully tried to engage Ukraine in a regional war supporting the US backed Georgian government in a conflict with Russia. Ukraine's political powers refused to support Yushchenko which, had he won, could have triggered an even greater conflict in the region and possibly a third world war.

Tymoshenko's hold on government was even more tenuous and she was forced to negotiate support from the 20 member minority party lead by Volodymyr Lytvyn in order to regain some form of stability, Vlodymr Lytvyn was offered the speakers position in return, a position previously denied Oleksandr Moroz and the Socialist Party.

Disunity is death in politics Yushchenko support had evaporated.

In January 2010 Viktor Yushchenko received only 5% support in his bid for re-election, losing out in the first round forcing a run-off election between the two highest candidates, Viktor Yanukovych Yulia Tymoshenko. Yanukovych won the Presidential second round ballot by a margin of 3%.

Yushchenko effectively killed off democracuy in Ukraine, his term of office being a complete disaster.

Since becoming President Viktor Yanukovych has moved to strengthen presidential authority and his hold over Ukraine's Parliament .

Soon after taking office, in what was seen by many as a Presidential coup, Yanukovich with the support of a breakaway faction Yushchenko's party Our Ukraine removed Yulia Tymoshenko from office. Yanukovych control over the parliament as further enhanced when he managed to secure a controversial ruling from Ukraine's Constitutional court that allowed members of Parliament breakaway from the party elected them and support the formation of a new government.

The proposals now before the Constitutional Court if supported would nullify the democratic reforms made back in 2004 and return power back into a Presidential autocarcy. Completely obliterating all reforms that were instituted since the 2004 Orange Revolution as though it never existed.

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