Government of Ukraine
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politics and government of
The government of Ukraine is often associated with the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. However it should be considered that Ukraine is a country under a semi-presidential system with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. And like a lot of European countries with the semi-presidential system a head of state, the President of Ukraine, has a great influence on the executive branch of the government. The highest government body of the executive branch is the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine not the president. The legislative branch is represented by a unicameral parliament, Verkhovna Rada, consisting of 450 People's Deputies (members of parliament). The judicial branch is very complex and has two independent court systems such as constitutional, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, and general, the Supreme Court of Ukraine.
The administrative reforms that followed the Orange Revolution sought to give more influence of the parliament over the cabinet and in the way creating a drift within the executive branch between the president and the cabinet. Those reforms were discontinued through the cancellation of constitutional amendments in 2010. There were also some ideas to reform the parliament into bicameral, however there was not much of public support for its realization. A reform to local self-government has been suggested, but is yet to be formally approved.
Country summary information
- Country name
- Country codes
- Government type
- Administrative divisions
- August 24, 1991, proclaimed by the parliament (from the Soviet Union)
- approved by referendum (popular vote) on December 1, 1991
- National holiday
- Independence Day, August 24, (1991)
- The Constitution of Ukraine was adopted June 28, 1996, amended December 8, 2004, amendments reverted in 2010
- Legal system
- The Ukrainian legal system is based on the civil law and the judicial review of legislative acts.
- 18 years of age; universal except legally disabled.
The State Flag of Ukraine is a banner of two equally-sized horizontal bands of blue and yellow.
- Coat of arms
The Great State Coat of arms of Ukraine will be established with the consideration of the Small Coat of Arms of Ukraine as its main element. The Small Coat of Arms of Ukraine ("the Trident") is based on the emblem of the Rurik Dynasty of the rulers of Kievan Rus'.
Head of state
According to the constitution the President of Ukraine is the head of state. The current president of Ukraine is Viktor Yanukovych (since January 23, 2010). The president guarantees the state sovereignty, territorial indivisibility, the observance of the Constitution as well as human and citizens' rights and freedoms.
President is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. The last presidential elections were held in 2010 (See: Ukrainian presidential election, 2010). The elections of the president are held on the last Sunday of October of the fifth year of the term of authority or in special circumstances within ninety (90) days from the day of termination of the authority. During the Constitutional reform in Ukraine in 2004 the Presidential authority became substantially reduced, however the reforms of 2004 were reverted by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine in 2010.
- 35 years of age
- right to vote
- resided in Ukraine for the last ten (10) years prior to the elections
- has command of the state language
- serve the position more than two consecutive terms
- have another representative mandate
- hold office in bodies of state power or in citizen associations
- perform any other paid or entrepreneurial activities
- be a member of an administrative body or board of supervisors of an enterprise that is aimed at making profit
The presidential authority to disband the parliament (Verkhovna Rada) has been however somewhat widened, though the current Constitution of Ukraine still provides for such action only under a narrow set of conditions. The conditions that allow the President to dismiss the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, including the Prime Minister have been substantially restricted as well. The presidential participation in the choice of the Prime Minister and most other members of the Cabinet has been reduced. While both the choice of the candidate for the Prime Minister and its final approval is now the responsibility of the parliament, it is the President who makes a formal nomination of the candidate proposed to him by the parliamentary coalition back to the full Verkhovna Rada for an up and down approval vote. The issue on whether the presidential role in the nomination is purely ceremonial, that is whether he has to nominate the candidate offered to him by a coalition or whether he can refuse and, thus force the coalition to come up with a different nomination, remains unresolved as of August 2006 and is a matter of an intense political debate.
Although most of the members of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine are chosen and nominated to the Parliament by the Prime Minister, the President still retains the authority to nominate the Ministers of the Foreign Affairs and of Defense for the parliamentary approval. The President also nominates for the heads of the central enforcement-related bodies that do not belong to the Cabinet, such as the Prosecutor General of Ukraine and the head of the Security Service of Ukraine, but not of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, the largest governmental security arm whose responsibility includes most of the police (militsiya) agency.
Also, the President appoints and dismisses the Heads of the Local State Administrations (i.e. governors) by nomination of the Cabinet of Ministers. The debate on whether the President could hypothetically reject the candidate for the governorship officially proposed by the Prime Minister, thus forcing the latter to come up with a different nomination, is yet to be resolved.
|This article is outdated. (February 2011)|
Information about the Law on the Cabinet of Ministers should be updated because a new such Law was passed.
The President is elected through direct universal popular vote for a five-year-term. He is the head of state and has the right to act in the name of the state. He is also officially considered to be the guarantor of the Constitution, the independence, security and unity of the state. His functions include the following:
- formal nomination of the Prime-Minister, which is made on a proposal of the parliamentary coalition (there have been a significant dispute between the President and the current coalition on whether this proposal is binding for the President or not);
- appointment of the ambassadors (requires the counter-signature of the Prime-Minister);
- may dissolve the Parliament if it fails to gather for a session within 30 consecutive days, or if it is incapable of forming a coalition and the Cabinet;
- proposes to the Parliament the candidates for the posts of the Minister for the Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Defense;
- appoints and dismisses the General Prosecutor and the Head of the State Security Agency (requires the consent of the Parliament);
- may temporarily suspend the acts of the Cabinet if he founds a contradiction between a respective act and the Constitution (however, should the Constitutional Court rule out that there is no contradiction, the act of the Cabinet regains its full power);
- is the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, appoints and dismisses the high officers of the Army;
- is the head of the National Security and Defense Council;
- appoints and dismisses one third of the Constitutional Court (the Law on the Constitutional Court states, that the President must consult the Prime-Minister before appointing a judge, and his decree has to bear a counter-signature of the Prime-Minister and the Minister of Justice). However, the President Yushchenko preferred to ignore this requirement in the course of the latest events in Ukraine, when he dismissed three judges of the Constitutional Court that were likely to favor the decision to nullify the controversial presidential decree on dissolving the Parliament. As expected, the coalition did not recognize this decree and claims it to be "illegal".
- grants clemency; decides on granting the Ukrainian citizenship; grants state decorations;
- promulgates the laws adopted by the Parliament. He may veto a law and ask for a new deliberation; however if the Parliament adopts that law by a two third majority, the presidential veto is superseded and he is obliged to sign and publicize the law no matter what; however, if even in this case the President refuses to sign the law within the specified term, it is immediately promulgated and publicized by the speaker of the Parliament. Until now this happened only once, when the Parliament adopted the Law on the Cabinet of Ministers, which reduced significantly the President's opportunities to influence the Cabinet. "Of course", this law was vetoed by the President, but the Parliament succeeded to gather the required majority and supersede the presidential veto. The President nevertheless refused to sign it, and it was finally signed and publicized by the Speaker Oleksandr Moroz. Following that, the President refused to recognize this law as a legal document, claiming, that the legislative procedure was incorrect and that the law itself is "gravely unconstitutional".
The President can also give decrees and executive orders obligatory on the whole territory of Ukraine, however, the decrees of the President must be in conformity with the Constitution and laws adopted by the Parliament (and some categories of the presidential decrees also require a counter-signature of the Prime-Minister and a minister responsible for the enforcement of such a decree; this concerns the decrees of four categories: appointment and dismissal of the Ukrainian ambassadors to foreign states and international organizations, enforcement of the decisions of the National Security and Defense Council, foundation of courts and the proclamation of the emergency situation). Lately, there have been a lot of debate between the presidential part and the part of the coalition on whether giving such counter-signatures is an obligation of the Prime-Minister (according to the point of view of the President) or not. The Law on the Cabinet of Ministers adopted by the Parliament lately (and which is not recognized as a legal document by the President, who claims it to be "gravely unconstitutional") states, that giving a counter-signature must precede the official publication of a decree, and the Prime-Minister or a responsible minister may refuse to give such a counter-signature,the consequence of the latter is that the respective presidential decree may not be officially publicized (and therefore may not come into force). However, the President usually ignores this article of the law, and enforces the respective decrees independently of the Cabinet, which in turn often refuses to recognize such decrees of the President.
The President also has some other minor functions determined by the Constitution (e.g. granting state decorations and accepting the credentials of foreign diplomats etc.).
Elections were last held on September 30, 2007. (See Ukrainian parliamentary election, 2007).
In this section order of information should be changed.
The Prime Minister of Ukraine (the head of the Cabinet) and the Cabinet are appointed by the Verkhovna Rada (the parliament). The Prime Minister is nominated by a parliamentary coalition and approved by the parliament. A candidate is proposed by the parliamentary coalition to the President and the latter submits an official nomination back to Verkhovna Rada for a formal approval vote.  While the official nomination of the candidate for the parliamentary approval is still made by the President, the Head of the State, formally, takes no part in the nominee's selection and there is an ambiguity whether the President may turn down the candidate suggested by the parliamentary coalition.
The Prime Minister, following his appointment, nominates other members of the Cabinet (ministers) for approval by the Verkhovna Rada, except the Ministers of the Foreign Affairs and of Defense, who are nominated by the President. The Cabinet of Ministers also nominates the heads of the local state administrations (i.e. governors) to be appointed by the President. The debate on whether the President could hypothetically reject the candidate for the governorship officially proposed by the Prime Minister is yet to be resolved.
The Prime Minister and his Cabinet could now be dismissed only by the Parliament while formerly the President could dismiss the entire cabinet unilaterally at any time, as it happened in 2005 for the First Tymoshenko Government.
The Prime Minister (currently Mykola Azarov) is appointed and dismissed by the 450-seat parliament, the unicameral Verkhovna Rada (the Supreme Council). The parliament also approves the members of the Cabinet of Ministers, that are appointed on a proposal of the Prime-Minister (excluding the Minister for the Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Defense, that are appointed on a proposal of the President, which has been a subject for a significant dispute lately between the parliamentary coalition and the President). According to the Constitution The Cabinet of Ministers is the highest institution of the executive branch. Within the limits of its competence the Cabinet of Ministers gives executive orders and decrees. The Cabinet is responsible before the Parliament and may be dismissed only if the Parliament passes a censure motion (this in turn may be done on a proposal of the President or a group of deputies). The President may not dismiss the Cabinet nor any of the ministers by himself (as it was done according to the previous edition of the Constitution), however, he takes part in the formation of the Cabinet, by formally nominating the Prime-Minister (whereas he nominates the candidate not at his own discretion, but on a proposal of the parliamentary coalition). He also nominates the Minister for the Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Defense. The heads of regional and district administrations are appointed by the President on a proposal of the Prime-Minister. This system virtually requires an agreement between the President and the Prime-Minister, however the President Yushchenko lately prefers to use a legally controversial way to evade this law by appointing not the actual governors or the heads of the local administrations, but the so-called "temporarily acting" officers (in practice, there is no other big difference than the name), thus evading the need to seek for a compromise with the Prime-Minister in this aspect. This practice is very controversial and still has to be reviewed by the Constitutional Court.
- Constitutional jurisdiction
- The Constitutional Court of Ukraine. The Constitutional Court has been formed on October 18, 1996, following the adoption of a new Constitution. Initially the judges were appointed for 9 years, and by 2005 the term has been expired for the majority of judges, which resulted in the court being de facto not functioning. Following the Constitutional reform, the new judges, which took oath in the parliament on August 4, 2006 were appointed for 9-year term.
- General jurisdiction
- The Supreme Court of Ukraine;
- High specialized courts: the High Arbitration Court of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Вищий господарський суд України), the High Administrative Court of Ukraine;
- Regional courts of appeal, military courts of appeal, specialized courts of appeal;
- Local district courts, military garrison courts.
The Constitution of Ukraine provides for trials by jury. This has not yet been implemented in practice. Moreover, some courts provided for by legislation as still in project, as is the case for, e.g., the Court of Appeals of Ukraine. The reform of the judicial branch is presently under way.
The office of the General Prosecutor has not been clearly defined to which government branch it belongs.
- National Bank of Ukraine
- Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine
- Central Election Commission of Ukraine
- National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine
- Center for Policy Studies in Ukraine
- Ukrainian Center for EU Civil Service Standards – Public institution established by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to facilitate administrative reform in Ukraine and to enhance the adaptation of the civil service to the standards of the European Union
- Ukraine: State of Chaos
- Ukraine at Erik Herron's Guide to Politics of East Central Europe and Eurasia hosted at Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies at Kansas University