Ukraine's System of Government

By Jordyn Roskind

Each form of government has its strengths and limitations. In Ukraine, there is currently a premier presidential, or parliamentary-prudential system of government. In this system, which has been in place since 2004, the people elect the president yet there is still accountability of the government to the parliament, which holds the responsibility of appointing and dismissing the head of the cabinet and the cabinet ministers. The president of Ukraine submits candidates for the positions of minister, defense, minister of foreign affairs, heads of the Prosecutor General’s office, and the Security Service. The president holds both the power to influence the appointment of regional heads as well as significant veto power; this includes the ability to suspend government decrees until the Constitutional Court checks its constitutionality. Ukraine’s president has stronger constitutional powers than any other president in other European countries with similar structures of government. Therefore, “it is not surprising that Ukraine’s president, if supported by the majority in the parliament, while relying on a number of constitutional instruments and carrying the symbolic weight of being a popularly elected political leader, plays a much more significant role than provided for in Ukraine’s current premier-presidential Constitution.”

Ukraine’s system has not yet achieved the stable balance of distribution of power as the role of political competition in the region changes frequently. For example, the presidency of Ukraine is influenced by Moscow: “Mikhail Gorbachev, the last General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR, was the first to bring the idea of establishing the presidency back into the political discourse.”

Ukraine’s current system of government faces many challenges; the division of executive power between the two political institutions of equal strength and uncertainty around separation of powers leads to conflicts between leaders as well as between the president and parliament. The president's involvement in coalition-making is not well regulated and there is a lack of transparency. While the weaknesses of the Ukrainian government are frequently apparent, the strengths are less commonly discussed and recognized. For this reason, there are varying opinions about whether or not changes to the Ukrainian government should be made.


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