Semi-presidentialism and Inclusive Governance in Ukraine: Reflections on Constitutional Reform

Since 1996, Ukraine's Constitution has provided for a semi-presidential form of government, but these constitutional arrangements have proved to be unstable.

Over the past four decades, constitutional stability in Ukraine has faced four main challenges: (a) recurring institutional conflict among the president, legislature and government, which has stalemated the political system and prevented effective legislation; (b) a presidency that has fallen prey to autocratic tendencies; (c) a fragmented and weak party system that has undermined the capacity of the legislature to act coherently; and (d) a weak constitutional culture and a weak Constitutional Court, manifested by irregular, politically motivated unilateral amendments to the Constitution.

In response to these challenges, this report identifies three principles to guide constitutional design: (a) guarding against presidential autocracy; (b) power sharing and executive leadership; and (c) legislative oversight of the executive.

The report provides options for the further reduction of presidential power, even under the current premier-presidential system (in force from 2005-2010, and since 2014), in which presidential power is already weaker than it was under president-parliamentary rule (in force between 2006 and 2010). It addresses the following issues: (a) formation and termination of branches of government; (b) distribution of powers between the president and the prime minister; and (c) additional constitutional design issues.

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