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Ukraine: Running out of time to dissolve parliament

Ukraine Today draws attention to the coming week being the last when president Yushchenko can constitutionally dissolve parliament before the 2010 presidential elections.

6 comments

  • It needs to be mentioned that the exact day in which the Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine’s embattled president, loses authority pursuant to Article 90 of Ukraine’s Constitution is open to dispute.

    Article 90 states. … “The authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine shall not be terminated during the last six months of the term of authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine or President of Ukraine.”

    The question is when does the term of authority of the President expire?

    Oleksandr Lavrynovych, Ukraine’s former Minister for Justice, argues July 17 (Six Months prior to the date of the scheduled Presidential election)

    Volodymyr Lytvyn, Speaker of the Parliament believes July 25 (6 months prior to the expiration of
    Yushchenko’s five year term of office)

    Forces close to Yushchenko have claimed that the President has until August 17 based on six months prior to the date one month after the scheduled Election.

    The Problem being that the President retains power until the next President is sworn into office. (Article 108) which generally takes place 30 days following the election.

    Ukraine suffers from election creep. Yushchenko has clung on to power and extended his term of Office beyond the constitutional five years.

    Yushchenko knows that he is in an unwinnable position and he is hanging out hoping he can gain some concessions in order to trade off for an early presidential election

    Reports in the media indicates that Yushchenko has offered to resign in order to facilitate an earlier Presidential election but only on the condition that the Parliament also subject itself to a fresh round of parliamentary elections.

    In 2007 a similar proposal was made for the President to also face renewal of his mandate along with Ukraine’s forced Parliamentary election. Yushchenko rejected the proposal.

    Early Presidential elections would be good for Ukraine, but there is no advantage, other then to Yushchenko. Parliamentary elections should be held following the presidential election and constitutional reform.

    Given that Ukraine also has a two round Presidential election system the proposal of holding simultaneous Presidential and Parliamentary elections whilst possible becomes convoluted and messy.

    Yushchenko, who has less then 4% support will not be elected to a second term of office. Under Ukraine’s two-round presidential system the two highest polling candidate’s face off in a second ballot to determine who wins. Yushchenko’s nomination will limit the chances of Arseny Yatseniuk (Y-Front for change party) competing against Yulia Tymoshenko for second place and a chance to be in the final ballot.

    It would be better of Yushchenko and others considered adopting a single-round preferential “Instant Runoff” voting system. (www.fairvote.org).

    A single round voting system would save Ukraine 100’s of millions of dollars and the results of the elections would be known within days as opposed to weeks. A preferential system would allow Yushchenko and other minor candidates to play a positive role in the outcome of the election as opposed to a negative spoiler role under the two round voting system.

  • Dear UkrToday,

    Thank you for pointing this out to me! As many of us, I read and debated the Ukrainian constitution, and its implications, a few years ago, and I was shocked to see how it may be interpreted in a variety of ways on a lot of important issues. So, your comment comes as no surprise to me, although it was most welcome.

    Yours,

    Vilhelm

  • Sorry to burst your bubble, but IRV does not deliver on all of the promises made by FairVote. It does not ensure a majority winner in one election instead of two. If it took weeks for San Francisco to use IRV to determine the winner of their municipal elections, it will take longer to do it in an entire country.

    And if you think that electing a President and Parliament at the same time is messy – you ain’t seen nothing yet like trying to do IRV at the same time.

    Study how IRV works in the US and in the botched Scottish elections of 2007 before endorsing IRV further.

    Chris Telesca
    Wake County Verified Voting

  • Dear Chris,

    I do not know whether your comment is directed to me or UkrToday. Therefore, I can only underline that covering this issue is a matter of reporting and not one of any endorsement whatsoever for an alternative way of carrying through elections. That is for Ukraine, its parliament and president, and in the continuation, its electorate to determine.

    Yours,

    Vilhelm

  • UkrToday

    Preferential voting is widely in use in Australia.

    Depending on the method used the results can be exactly the same as the two round presidential system – assuming that voters do not change their mind between the two rounds. (i.e. you could take the two-highest poling candidates and then do a second throw of preferences to determine which of the two has the majority of votes) .

    The other option: if no single candidate has a majority of votes you exclude the candidate(s) with the lowest vote and redistribute their vote according to the order of the voters preference.

    Th results in Australia are known in days. It is not that big of a task. Certainly much quicker and less expensive then the two round ballot system

    Personally I do not support direct elections of head of state. A total waste of limited resources.

    Preferential voting is also well suited to proportional representation counts. (The Meeks method).

    Australia has adopted a number of innovations that also assist in the counting process such as notional throws and above the line voting

    Using Ukraine recent polls as an example

    Viktor Yanukovych (PoR) 26.7%
    Yulia Tymoshenko (BY) 17.6%
    Arseniy Yatsenyuk (Y-Front) 11.9%
    Petro Symonenko (CPU) 5.3%
    Volodymyr Lytvyn (BL) 4.3%
    Viktor Yushchenko (OU) 4.0%

    Others/No-Vote 30.2% (Not all respondents will vote – Adjustments need to be made to take into account the participation rate)

    Under Ukraine’s two-round voting system Yanukovych and Tymoshenko would face off in a second round vote the results according to the poll being 43.3% (55.8%) and 34.3% (44.2%) respectively.

    A preferential voting system would produce the same results if the rules are the same.

    The main difference is that under the existing rules Yushchenko and other minor candidates are what is referred to as a spoiler candidates, they play a negative role in determining the outcome of the election. They take votes away from challenging candidates similar to Ralph Nader in the US Presidential ballot.

    In the Australian model (also used in Ireland and elsewhere) Yushchenko could play a positive role and influence the outcome by advocating a second choice preference.

    If you adopted the Australian model (similar to that used in San Francisco and advocated by http://www.fairvote.org)

    Yushchenko would be excluded and his votes would be redistributed first followed by Lytvyn and then Symonenko. Depending on the preference flow this could boost Yantseniuk’s votes and he could then take over Tymoshenko to be in the final count.

    The main consideration here is the costs of the two round system/. Each round of voting has a direct cost of 100 Million dollars. (Even more if you factor in indirect costs of campaigning between rounds estimated at an additional $150 million per round) A single round ballot system would save Ukraine over 250 million dollars and produce the same outcome or better.

  • UkrToday

    On January 23, 2005 Viktor Yushchenko took the oath commencing his five-year term of office.

    Excluding today Yushchenko has less then six months remaining of his five-year term.

    With the passing of this date Yushchenko loses authority to dismiss Ukraine’s parliament.

    Article 90 of Ukraine’s Constitution removes the authority of the President to dismiss Ukraine’s Parliament within the last six months of the President’s term of office.

    In 2007 Yushchenko illegally and unconstitutionally interfered in the independence an operation of Ukraine’s Constitutional Court in order to prevent the Court from ruling on the constitutionally of his April 2nd decree.

    Any attempt by the President to dismiss Ukraine’s parliament for a second time will be challenged in Ukraine’s Constitutional Court and cause a repeat of the political and civil unrest that occurred in 2007.

    Yushchenko can not afford the political fall out of an adverse ruling of the Constitutional Court and cause of another political crisis in the lead-up to Presidential elections scheduled for January 17, 2010.

    Article 90

    The authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is terminated on the day of the opening of the first meeting of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of a new convocation.

    The President of Ukraine may terminate the authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine prior to the expiration of term, if:

    (1) there is a failure to form within one month a coalition of parliamentary factions in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as provided for in Article 83 of this Constitution;

    (2) there is a failure, within sixty days following the resignation of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, to form the personal composition of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine;

    (3) the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine fails, within thirty days of a single regular session, to commence its plenary meetings.

    The early termination of powers of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine shall be decided by the President of Ukraine following relevant consultations with the Chairperson and Deputy Chairpersons of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and with Chairpersons of Verkhovna Rada parliamentary factions.

    The authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, that is elected at special elections conducted after the pre-term termination by the President of Ukraine of authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the previous convocation, shall not be terminated within one year from the day of its election.

    The authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine shall not be terminated during the last six months of the term of authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine or President of Ukraine.

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