There has been a lot of speculation and allegations about Ukraine's local elections which are being held this weekend. Normally local elections would not rate much attention but in Ukraine the word election and corruption go hand in hand.
Former Prime-Minster come self declared opposition leader in exile (She is not a member of parliament) Yulia Tymoshenko, has come out and declared the election fraudulent with another round of allegations of vote rigging and illegal printing of ballot papers.
Tymoshenko last week took the media with her to expose a illegal printing of ballot papers in Lviv. Problem was when they got there there was no signs or evidence of any ballot papers. Similar allegation were made in Kharkiv region but it turned out the factory was authorised to publish ballot papers.
The real problem facing Tymoshenko is credibility.
During the 2010 Presidential elections Tymoshenko also made allegations of vote fraud and declared that the elections in which she lost by a margin of 3 percent were fraudulent. This in spite the fact that the result of the elections had been endorsed by all International observer groups and was backed up by public onion polls and exist polls all which confirmed the official results. On review there was no evidence to back up the claims made by Tymoshenko. Tymoshenko never the less stated that she would pursue her allegations and challenge the results in the courts and if need be would appeal to the International Community. Weeks went by and Tymoshenko failed to provide any evidence of any serious wrong doing or any facts that substantiated her claim that the elections was fraudulent. Faced with growing criticism and lack of international backers and a serious loss of confidence Tymoshenko withdraw her challenge against the results of the election.
Nine months later Ukraine is back in a new election cycle and Tymoshenko is again alleging election fraud. It is not that there is no concern about the election, there is, but Tymoshenko has to date not provided any substantial evidence to support her claims.
The International community concerned about the need for open transparency and confidence in the internal elections has set a delegation of observers. Many who have a bias agenda . Most are reluctant to be seen to back Tymoshenko's allegations and there is growing concern that she may have lost all credibility to such an extent that no-one is prepared to take her seriously.
It has become a situation where even if there is voter fraud no one will come to her aid or believe her, such is the loss of her credibility. The polls are also showing a corresponding loss of Tymoshenko's support in the electorate.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
There has been a lot of speculation and allegations about Ukraine's local elections which are being held this weekend. Normally local elections would not rate much attention but in Ukraine the word election and corruption go hand in hand.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Semi-Presidentialism, Political Reform, and the Future of Ukrainian Democracy
by Andreas Umland
Labels: Constitutional reform
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Much of the debate in Ukraine is about the perceived notion of "Nationalism" and ethnicity, the us versus them argument.
Russia is not a threat to Ukraine, it is Ukrainians and their political leaders that undermine Ukraine's stability and prosperity. Their political leaders. sadly, have failed to represent their Citizens. Instead they seek to promote division based on ethnicity.
The concept of Nationalism more often then not divides a nation as opposed to uniting its people. One mans notion of National values is another mans vilification. Exactly who is Ukrainian and who is not? And should it matter? No more is this divide greatest then in the Language debate. Nationalism is more often than not used to rally the troops when those that promote it as a political tool have nothing else to unite the nation or offer as an alternative policy to secure support. It is for this reason Ukraine remains divided.
Ethnically Ukraine encompasses many nationalities and ethnic groups. It is the centre of the European continent after all. The various ethnic groups include: Tatars, Hungarians, Polish, Romanians, Swedish, Germans, Austrians, Russian and Hutzals. In many ways it is its diversity that makes Ukraine and should be what unites Ukraine. Nationalism is good for promoting various culture but it is dangerous when used as a political tool.
What Ukraine today needs is to develop a sense of Citizenship and the values that come with a democratic society that engages and seeks to unit all its citizens. I'ts Citizenship that is the most important and from a sense of Citizenship and National pride comes recognition of cultural values which includes all languages.
Democracy is not based on nationalism it is based on universal suffrage, Citizenship and representative governance.
The sooner the political debate in Ukraine can begin to focus on Citizenship the sooner Ukraine can put and end to division and move forward as one nation. one state with a reverence for human rights and democratic values.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Ukraine democratic coalition needs a common policy for reform.
Where to? Whats next?
Ukraine needs to form a "Democratic coalition" with a single goal of getting the foundation for a true independent democratic state right
Ukraine needs to rebuild the foundation stones of democracy.
It has to make a stand for set the agenda for reform.
Get the foundations right and the rest should follow. Get it wrong and the state will fall.
If the democratic coalition fails to come up with a united position then democracy in Ukraine will be a lost cause.
The coalition does not have to agree to support each other in government but it must be united in its position for democratic constitutional reform.
IT MUST ADVOCATE FROM A POSITION OF UNITY
Monday, October 11, 2010
In attempt to attract media attention supporters of Yulia Tymoshenko went on a hunger strike. The hunger strike, of course, was just a publicity stunt and no
one expected it would last let along have any impact or influence world
Yanukovych's team have won one over Tymoshenko. In what can only be seen as a brilliant tactic on their behalf the Ukrainian authorities organised a food and agriculture display to be held on the site that Tymoshenko supporters had chosen to stage their hunger strike.
The strike lasted no more then seven days before Yulia called it off.
Saturday, October 09, 2010
There is growing concern being expressed in the corridors of power in Europe
with representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
(PACE) discovering that Yanukovych has misunderstood the recommendations
and directions that Europe wants to see Ukraine take.
The changes that saw Ukraine revert back to the provisions of the 1996 version of its Constitution following the determination of Ukraine's Constitutional court has set off alarm bells that Ukraine is taking a backward step.
PACE whilst critical of certain provisions of the 2004 Constitutional Amendments were not opposed to them in fact they were supportive. Their main criticism of the 2004 amendments were the Imperative Mandate provisions and the apparent unworkable divisions of power between the Office of the President and the Parliament, divisions that often brought the two into conflict and at odds to each other, divisions that made government in Ukraine unworkable. PACE was not opposed to the transition of power from the President to the Parliament. In fact it was in favour of the proposed shift.
In 2007 PACE's Explanatory Report called on Ukraine to adopt a Full Parliamentary System in line with other European States and European Standards The report stated "It would be better for the country to switch to a full parliamentary system with proper checks and balances and guarantees of parliamentary opposition and competition."
Similar concerns are being expressed today.
One of the criticism levelled at the way in which Ukraine's parliament is structured was centered around the Imperative Mandate provisions which PACE has always considered to be problematic and unworkable. In its previous reports PACE had called for Ukraine to abandon the restrictive Imperative mandate provisions. Provisons that Ukraine's Constitutional Court had in effect ruled unconstitutional when it ruled that members of parliament had a right to vote as individuals and could break away from the faction that elected them and support the formation of a new governing coalition. It was this ruling that saw the collapse of the Tymoshenko government as members of the previous government crossed the floor to support the formation of a new government lead by Yanukovych's Party of Regions.
The PACE report of 2010 went one step further and recommended that "electoral reform should not only entail the adoption of a new election code but also of a new electoral system, and reaffirms its recommendation that an electoral system be adopted that consists of a proportional system based on open lists and multiple regional constituencies"
Somewhere along the line something was lost in translation.
Viktor Yanukovych who reassured the European Community that it was actively pursuing an European integration agenda had released a policy statement indicating that Ukraine was going to take a further backward step and introduce majoritarian :first-past-the post voting system in electing the parliament and President. Such a police shot ignores the PACE recommendation outline above and if implemented would see the dynamics of Ukraine take a turn for the worst. No longer would Parliament be representative of the people of Ukraine. the party that was able to secure the most votes in any election would win. Even of that Party did not represent a majority of the electorate.
One of the criticism of the majoritarian "first-past-the-post" voting system is in its name. The Majoritarian system does no actually represent a majority but the highest vote. Of course in the past elections the President's Party of Regions has been the highest polling party and presumably that would translate into a sure win for the President's team at the expense of the other parties. Exactly how this new policy which runs contrary to the PACE recommendations will play out is dependent on the detail of its implementation.
Yanukovych is not the only one that has considered and recommended that Ukraine abandon the democratic proportional voting system. Ukraine's previous President Viktor Yushchenko also tried to implement such a policy in his model reform. A model that was rightly rejected by Ukraine's parliament at the time.
First-past-the-post voting is outdated and undemocratic. It was designed in the 8tth century at a time when voters could not read or write. In most parts of the world it has already been replaced. Britain is in the processes of abandoning it, Canada earlier on tried to replace it and the USA still uses it. It is widely open to manipulation and the main tactic is to run candidates that hold similar policies to that of your main opposition., dividing their support and in the process reducing their prime vote. As long as the opposition remain divided and your party united you hope to come out on top and have the highest vote. The highest vote does not translate into the majority vote. You can be elected with as low as 34% of the vote so long as your opponents do not get more then you, they could have 32% and would lose out.
This is the problem Ukraine now faces in its local government elections due to be held on October 31.
Countries like Australia recognised the problem associated with first-past-the-post voting were more often than not the party elected is opposed by more people then who support them. In Australia they implemented what was referred to as Preferential voting or Instant Run-Off voting in the United States. Organisation such as Fair vote are advocating adopting such a system in the United States, It is a system that guarantees that the person elected has the support of the majority of the electorate. It is a system that Ukraine should also consider adopting and it can be used in multi=member proportional representation ballots where it is referred to by the name "Single transferable vote" which is what is used to elect the Scottish Local government councils
A model system that would meet the requirements an recommendation outlined in the PACE 2010 report.
Instead of introducing first past-the-post voting to elect Ukraine's Parliament Ukraine could establish 50 local electorates of roughly equal size in terms of the number of constituents with each electorate electing nine members of parliament using a single transferable proportional voting system and quota of 10% to elect representatives to Ukraine's Parliamentary body.
Such a system would be fair, equitable and representative of Ukraine’s diverse community without implementing a undemocratic voting system. No one party would have an unfair advantage.
In establishing local electorates and open lists the nature of politics will change in Ukraine. Representatives would be held accountable to the electorate and members of parliament will be engaged with the community.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
I would not hold out much hope coming out of PACE. They have in the past seriously compromised their position and in doing so have contributed to much of the instability and situation facing Ukraine today. (Most notably was their silence on the abuse and violation of Ukraine's Constitutional order in 2007 when Yushchenko illegally interfered with the independence of the Courts to prevent them from overturning his attack on Ukrainian democracy and the dismissal of Ukraine previous parliament)
Much of what PACE has stated is worthy of serious consideration BUT will PACE follow through with these issues or will they like last time turn a blind eye top the misuse and abuse of authority.
With that in mind the following points are of interest and worth noting. (Read into them what you will)
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe: The functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Yulia Tymoshenko has joined what has become a chorus of voices calling for spill of all positions and the holding of fresh Parliamentary and Presidential elections in the wake of the Constitutional Court's October 1 ruling.
She joins the Rukh Party and the Socialist party of Ukraine in calling for a renewal both tiers of government.
The Constitutional Courts ruling has left many questions unanswered, the most important being how do you reconcile the mandate given to the Parliament an the President given that both bodies of power were elected under a different system of government and a different Constitutional authority. Ukrainian's voted them into office on the understanding that the divisions of power were different than what they are today.
This leaves Ukraine with only two valid options .
1. Reinstate the 2004 amendments nn pursue reform though proper process o consultation an reviie or
2. Declare a spill in the Office of the president and members of Parliament and hold fresh Parliamentary and Presidential elections in March 2011.
The question is will Yanukovych have teh courage and convcitions to put matters right and if need be face the people of Ukraine in a fresh presidnetial ballot. Yushchenko when presented with a similar option back in 2007 refused to renew his mandate. The other issue of course is if fresh presidnetiaal elections are held and Yanukovych won he would be deamed to have served two terms and as such could not run for a further term of office. This leaves option one the front door approach. Reinstate the 2004 amendments and then seek further amendments to Ukraine's Constitution.
Labels: Constitutional crisis
Monday, October 04, 2010
CC ruling provokes snap parliamentary and presidential elections
CC ruling repealing 2004 constitutional amendments should be followed by snap parliamentary and presidential elections, honorary leader of the Socialist party Olexandr Moroz says, his press service reported Oct. 3.
If the CC ruling is considered legal, there is need to hold snap parliamentary and presidential elections.
However, the constitution does not envisage such procedure, and therefore, there will be manipulation of constitutional provisions, Moroz went on.
Viktor Yanukovych was elected to office under the 2004 Constitution which detailed his authority.
Verkhovna Rada was also elected in 2007 for 5 years and is supposed to have the authority envisaged by the 2004 Constitution. Under the new Constitution, lawmakers are elected for 4 years, Moroz noted.
Saturday, October 02, 2010
Ukraine, following the recent ruling of Ukraine's Constitutional Court which struck down the 2004 amendments to Ukraine's Constitution, is now facing a major Constitutional Crisis with the country in a state of limbo and uncertainty. Ukraine's Constitution and laws are not worth the paper they are printed on. Rule of Law no longer exists. Public confidence in the democratic process completely destroyed. Yet Ukraine will survive. It is a country that has learnt to exist without government or democratic rule of law, It is business as usual. Its political leaders having failed to restore civility and rational governance.
I'ts loss of confidence stated soon after the election of Victor Yushchenko and the failure of Yushchenko to support the formation of a governing coalition follwoing the 2006 Parliamentary election. having lost sup;port and power yushchenko systematically undermined Ukraine's Parliamentary government destabilising the system of governance and with it his own credibility. In 2010, Yushchenko had lost the confidence of the Ukrainian people and was removed from office having only received 5% support in the January Presidential elections.
His main opponent and former Prime Minister, Viktor Yanukovych won the Presidential election and in a final act of retribution has further demolished what confidence and support remained for a proper governing proces.
The Constitutional court has been inconsistent in its own position. Previous rulings of the Court have upheld provisions of Ukraine's Constitution as amended in 2004. Yushchenko himself had acted to interfere with the independence of the Courts. In 2010 Yanukovych has done more or less the same. He replaced members of the Constitutional court with his own nominees and moved quickly to cancel the reforms that he himself had previously advocated and support.
Ukraine's Constitution needs to be thrown out and rewritten. It is so tainted that any attempt to reform it by amendment would not be acceptable. It needs to go back to the very start and rethink what it is they really want, need and value the most.
Nearly all political commentators have expressed the same opinion but the problem still remains the unanswered question. Does Ukraine continue t maintain a central US/Soviet sty; presidential authority or does it embrace democratic Parliamentary system of Governance in line with other European States.
The opposition lead by Yulia Tymoshenko appears to be ineffective and incapable of mounting an argument against the swell and tide of public discourse calling for a stronger centralised presidential system, There has been some talk of rejection of the Constitutional Court's ruling there is little that can be done as the Courts findings are final and can not be appealed.
There is also no sign of protest, no revolution, rebellion or peoples uprising, .
Ukrainians just will not come out and defend democracy. Yhey have been betrayed by their leaders in the past and they no longer see any benefit or opportunity to influence the outcome. They placed their trust in Yushchenko only to have that trust betrayed.
The "West:" are also unlikely to be able to influence the events that have just unfolded, they themselves were compromised by their past in action when they remained silent as Ukraine's past president, Victor Yushenko, demonstrated his contempt for democratic fovernment, Ukraine's Constitution and the concept of rule of law. Yushchenko's actionsdismisisng Ukraine perviousb parliamnet back in 2007 caused seven months of political instability and civil unrest and only served to remove all confidence in the political process. Ukrainians want nothing to do with colored revolutions. They have been to the polls too many times and nothing has changed. only more hardship, more instability and greater division..
Ukraine is now paying the price of Yushchenko's betrayal. Democracy and rule of law no longer exist, if it ever did exist. There is no respect or confidence in the political process all they can do is hope and pray that the President will act reasonably and in other is best interest. There is no certainty of outcome. The system and the courts have failed Ukraine.Its past president have failed Ukraine. Ukraine is in state of perpetual anarchy where only the Presidential decree remains.
"Ukraine's 1996 constitution was hailed around the world at the time as 'the most democratic' in the former Soviet Union"
A presidential system by its design autocratic not democratic.
Latvia and Estonia have much more democratic constitutions then Ukraine's. Ukraine's biggest mistake was not adopting a European Parliamentary model from day one. The struggle to democratise Ukraine has been debated for decades. Proposals to change the system back in 2003 failed by five votes thanks to Yushchenko who has consistently opposed democracy in Ukraine.
The only reason the 2004 amendments failed was due to Yushchenko and his ongoing misuse and abuse of office. His actions in 2007 dismissing Ukraine's Parliament had undermined political stability and confidence in the political process. Yanukovych's consolidation of power has only brought his office into disrepute as previously Yanukovych, when he as prime-minister advocated the parliamentary system. Such hypocrisy indicates a lack of conviction leaving him wide open to the allegation of opportunism seeking power for powers sake. The determination of the Constitutional Court will only fuel further unrest and disillusionment in the democratic process. Both Yushchenko and Yanukovych have successivley destroyed democracy in Ukraine.
Yanukovych, like Yushchenko, was elected on the understanding that power and government was held and determined by the peoples democratically elected parliament.
The change in the system forced by the Court has negated the President and Parliament's mandate.
There is no other alternative.
Ukraine must now hold fresh Parliamentary and presidential elections.
Friday, October 01, 2010
Ukraine has just taken a backward step. A step away from democratic rule of law and a return of presidential autocracy. A step that Viktor Yushchenko advocated and by his actions preordained
Today the Constitutional Court of Ukraine ruled invalid the amendments to Ukraine's Constitution that were agreed to as part of a peace deal in settlement of the "Orange Revolution" stand off in December 2004.
The amendments agreed to in haste followed years of negotiation and efforts for Ukraine to make the transition away from a Soviet Presidential system and towards a European style democratic Parliamentary system .
Ukraine previous President Viktor Yushchenko has consistently undermined the stability and success of Ukraine's Parliamentary system. A system that saw Yanukovych elected Prime-minister in 2006 following Yushchenko failure to support the formation of a orange governing coalition.
Yanukovych was at the time a supporter of the Constitutional provision that was until Yushchenko acted unconstitutionally to dismiss the previous parliament going as far as interfering with the composition and independence of Ukraine's constitutional Court to prevent the Court from ruling against his decree.
Yushchenko's actions caused seven months of political and civil unrest and the process destroying any hope for respect in the democratic process. Yushchenko had sold out Ukraine and in the process has set in train the events that are now unfolding.
Yanukovych having been elected President in January with a winning margin of just 3 percent has quickly gone about securing power and control over every aspect of Ukraine's Government.
In all fairness Yanukovych had the right to remain Prime Minister but Yushchenko removed that right and with it and chance for long term democratic development.
Constitution of Ukraine
Labels: Constitution of Ukraine