A SWITCH TO A PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM AS A WAY TO SOLVE UKRAINE’S DEEPENING POLITICAL CRISIS
Ukraine’s ongoing governmental disarray started with Minister of Economy Aivaras Abromavicius’s resignation triggered by machinations of an associate of Petro Poroshenko (i.e. Konenko) and not of Arseni Yatseniuk. Therefore, the idea that a change of the prime minister and not president would solve the problem always looked odd, if not manipulative. That was especially so, as the likely new prime minister (i.e. current Rada speaker Hroisman) is another associate of the President. After Poroshenko’s recent attack on the “New York Times,” the revelations about him in the “Panama Papers” and several other mishaps or missteps of the last two months (e.g. Sakvarelidze, Firsov, Tomenko etc.), I do not see how Poroshenko can simply continue to rule as President as he has done since 2014.
A way to avoid new presidential elections could be a constitutional change which would abolish Ukraine’s presidency in its current form. Today’s presidential office should be replaced with a figurehead of state with few prerogatives and no administration (to be replaced by a small technical secretariat). This new, essentially powerless “President” could be quickly elected by the Verkhovna Rada or an assembly of national and regional people’s deputies (e.g. 423 Rada deputies plus 423 Oblrada deputies).
Such a change would be in congruence with recent findings of both qualitative and quantitative political science which has established a link between the success of democratization and the weakness or absence of a popularly elected President. The most relevant texts are Elgie/Moestrup’s collected volume “Semi-presidentialism in Central and Eastern Europe” published by Manchester University Press in 2008, and Steve Fish’s research paper “Strong Legislatures, Strong Democracies” published in 2006 in the JOURNAL OF DEMOCRACY.
See also my old articles on abolishing Ukraine’s presidency, from 2009-2010, in the “Harvard International Review,” “Open Democracy,” “Ukraine-Nachrichten” or “Ukrainska Pravda”: