Prime Minister of Ukraine
|Prime Minister of Ukraine
|Term length||Duration of the parliamentary convocation (5 years)|
|Inaugural holder||Vitold Fokin|
|Formation||November 18, 1920|
|Succession||None; resignation or removal renders cabinet illegitimate|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The Prime Minister of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Прем'єр-міністр України, Prem'ier-ministr Ukrayiny) is Ukraine's head of government presiding over the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, which is the highest body of the executive branch of the Ukrainian government. The position replaced the Soviet post of the Chairman of Council of Ministers of the Ukrainian SSR, which was established on March 25, 1946.
Since Ukrainian independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, there have been fifteen Prime Ministers, or nineteen, counting acting PMs. Mykola Azarov was the most recent Prime Minister, serving from 11 March 2010 to 28 January 2014, when he resigned following public protests calling for his dismissal. Serhiy Arbuzov served acting Prime Minister until 22 February 2014, when Arseniy Yatsenyuk was appointed. Yatsenyuk is the first Prime Minister who has come from Western Ukraine. Two Prime Ministers were born in the Russian SFSR.
The prime minister is appointed by the president with the consent of the Verkhovna Rada. The consent is deemed granted by the parliament when a simple majority of its constitutional membership votes in favour of the candidate nominated by the president. The highest parliamentary approval to date was received by Yulia Tymoshenko who was appointed the Prime Minister on February 4, 2005 with 373 votes in the Verkhovna Rada. Other prime ministers who received more than 300 votes were Arseniy Yatsenyuk (371), Vitold Fokin (332), and Leonid Kuchma (316).
The procedure of granting consent by the parliament is usually preceded by several days of comprehensive consultations and interviews of the candidate by the parliamentary factions. The approval by the legislature is not a mere formality. Some candidates were ratified by a narrow margin and a candidate may be turned down. For instance, in 1999, Valeriy Pustovoitenko fell three votes short of being re-confirmed after he tendered his resignation at the second inauguration of President Leonid Kuchma in 1999. Kuchma chose Viktor Yushchenko as his alternative candidate. Another example is the approval of Yuriy Yekhanurov's candidacy (he fell three votes short of approval, but was confirmed on the second attempt two days later).
After the constitutional reform of late 2004, the president was restricted in his choice of prime minister and was virtually obliged to nominate the person proposed by the parliamentary coalition. The prime minister, as with all members of executive branch, cannot be a member of parliament.
Duties and powers
The prime minister heads Ukraine's executive branch of government, the Cabinet of Ministers and signs decrees passed by the Cabinet.
The prime minister has the authority to propose candidates for ministry offices to the Verkhovna Rada, with the exception of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Defense, which are proposed by the president. The prime minister can also propose candidates for the heads of regional administrations to the president for consideration.
The prime minister can also countersign decrees and laws passed by the president. The constitution is silent on the exact regulation of the countersigning. The prime minister (and the respective minister) are responsible for the execution of laws passed by the cabinet.
While in office, the prime minister is granted full legal immunity from all prosecutions and legal proceedings. The prime minister's office is headquartered in the Cabinet of Ministries building in central Kiev. The prime minister was paid a yearly salary of 202,776 UAH (16,898/month) (US$26,770) in 2005. In 2013, following a petition in Fokus magazine, the secretariat of the cabinet stated that the monthly salary of prime minister was 33,980 UAH (US$4,173.42), which is eleven times more than the average salary in the country.
Prime ministers are frequently asked by individual citizens for help in solving their personal problems, sometimes successfully. In 2012, Prime Minister Azarov received dozens of personal pleas every day on his Facebook page. By-passing local Governments is an ages old practice in Ukraine.
Acting and Vice-Prime Ministers
The first vice-prime minister, also known as the First Deputy, heads the cabinet in the absence of the prime minister due to resignation or dismissal. Among the most notable First deputies were Yukhym Zvyahilsky and Mykola Azarov, who served as the acting prime minister longer for anyone. Beside them the position of the "acting" also served Valentyn Symonenko, Vasyl Durdynets, Oleksandr Turchynov and others.
Apart from the first vice-prime minister, there are also several other vice-ministers who support the Prime Minister, and may be in charge of one or more ministries. In 1991–1992 there the office of the State Minister-Minister was also introduced. Traditionally Vice-Prime Ministers are in charge of an area of general state government policy such as the Agro-Industrial Complex, Humanitarian Affairs, Economical Affairs, or Regional Policy. On certain occasions those deputies may be given regular ministerial portfolios as well, as happened in the 2010 Azarov Government.
Dismissal and resignation
The Prime Minister, like other Cabinet members, may resign voluntarily by tendering their resignation to the President. A resignation by the Prime Minister results in the dismissal of the entire Cabinet. After the adoption of the current Constitution in 1996, only Prime Ministers Pavlo Lazarenko and Mykola Azarov have left their post this way. While the Prime Minister does not have a set term limit, he or she stays in office for the duration of the parliament term, unless he or she resigns or is dismissed earlier.
Before the constitutional reform of 2004, the prime minister was usually dismissed unilaterally by the president. After the reform, the prime pinister could only be dismissed by the parliament. Formally, the Verkhovna Rada needed to pass a resolution of no confidence of the cabinet, which had to result in the prime minister's resignation. However, the parliament could not put such a resolution to the vote within one year of the approval of the cabinet's official programme. The Cabinets of Prime Ministers Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych were dismissed in this way, with the latter refusing to tender his resignation to the president claiming a violation of the one-year period condition. The Cabinet of Yuriy Yekhanurov had also been formally dismissed, but the parliamentary act was subsequently repealed.
List of Prime Ministers (1991–present)
Since Ukrainian independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, there have been 15 prime ministers (19 including acting PMs). Yulia Tymoshenko was the first (and only) female Prime Minister of Ukraine. Before the re-appointment as Prime Minister of Mykola Azarov, Tymoshenko was the longest serving prime minister serving for two terms and a total of 1,029 days (days serving as acting Prime Minister are not included in these numbers). Since Azarov was re-appointed as prime minister on 13 December 2012, he has since broken Tymoshenko's record. Ukraine's last Prime Minister Azarov resigned on 28 January 2014, due to public outcry and protests following the Euromaidan.
- Eugenia Tymoshenko: the fight to save my mother Yulia, The Guardian (23 September 2012)
- BBC News (28 January 2014). "Ukraine's PM Azarov and government resign". Retrieved 28 January 2014.
- Serhiy Arbuzov to head Ukraine govt pending premier's appointment, Interfax-Ukraine (6 February 2014)
- Government approves draft law on cabinet according to which president appoints premier, Interfax-Ukraine (October 5, 2010)
- "The salary of Yushchenko rose 9 times – to $4.5 thousand". NTA-Privolzhye. 2005-07-14. Retrieved December 25, 2008.
- Azarov receives more than 30 thousands in a month (Азаров отримує більше 30 тисяч на місяць). Ukrayinska Pravda. 2013-1-24
- Help Me, Father Czar!, Kyiv Post (5 April 2012)
- Laws of Ukraine. President of Ukraine decree No. 599/97: On the resignation of Prime Minister P.Lazarenko. Passed on 1997-07-02. (Ukrainian)
- Ukraine's First Woman Prime Minister
- Azarov is record-holder in holding PM post, ForUm (4 December 2012)
- Ukraine parliament approves Azarov as prime minister, Reuters (13 December 2012)
- Azarov urges Ukrainians to be worthy of liberators' feat, Ukrinform (9 May 2013)
- Yekhanurov initially collected 223 votes out of the necessary 226, but he was appointed after the second try.
- Tymoshenko initially collected 225 votes out of the necessary 226. Some deputies announced that their votes did not correspond to the results. The Tymoshenko candidacy was approved on the second try.
- "Government portal". Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2008-03-06.