Constitutional basics of Ukrainian state and political system



In modern conditions creation and development of Ukrainian state is directly connected with the national restoration process (on the West it is called ethnical renaissance)[1]. As far as the nature of national restoration is concerned, it is spoken about realizing itself ethnically as a nation, as an acting individual in the modern world history. Its major and the most significant means is creation of the national state, which always happens in the context of particular historical conditions. So, the most significant influence on the development processes of state formation in Ukraine for the last fifteen years has caused the real progress in democratic development of the society, strengthening and constitutional development of our state as a way of regional-political organization of Ukrainian nation which is supposed to provide the best conditions for economic, social, and spiritual development[2]. Therefore, it is advisable to speak about reality of our independence through the frame of defining and characteristics of the modern state-formation main stages and social development in Ukraine.

The first stage – 19901991 years – Ukrainian state’s declaration and statement of independence.

The period of 8090s of the last century was characterized, first of all, by the liberation of the soviet command-administrative system in Ukraine, and secondly, the deepening of its crisis. The catalysts of the national restoration process of Ukrainian nation and its state were newly formed public-political organizations, societies, clubs – Ukrainian Helsinki Union, the Ukrainian language Society named after T. G. Shevchenko, the Independent Ukrainian youth’s union, etc. The National Movement of Ukraine which was organized in 1989 occupied the most noticeable place. At this very time, the process of democratic political parties formation started, and in the Supreme Council the opposition was formed and led by academician I. Yuhnovsky from the National Council, which consisted of 125 members.

In these conditions the Supreme Council on the 16th of July in 1990 approved an extremely important document – A declaration of Ukraine state sovereignty[3]. 335 MPs voted for it, opposed – 4, restrained – 1. It declared the comprehensible right of Ukrainian nation for its self-determination and further development of independent Ukrainian state. During the signing of international agreements, including the new one developed in Moscow under the authority of M. Gorbachov, Ukraine was to be driven by the equality, common respect, and not to intrude into internal affairs principles. Though State Committee of Emergency and the overturn in 19th21st of August, 1991 in Moscow led to the actual failure of hopes on re-signing of the Union Agreement.

On the 24th of August, 1991 the Emergency session of the Supreme Council approved the declaration of Ukrainian independence[4], declaring its total state independence and creation of own Ukrainian state – Ukraine. The national blue-yellow flag was lifted on the top of the Supreme Council building. The judicial power of this document was confirmed by general Ukrainian referendum on the 1st of December 199190.9% voted for its support. At the same time the elections of the first president of Ukraine were conducted. L. Kravchuk, the former head of the Supreme Council and our compatriot who collected 61.59% of votes became the first president. Besides this, on the first stage of state creation in Ukraine, the approving of the law concerning the economic independence, creating by the Supreme Council on the 24th of October in 1990 a Committee of new Ukrainian Constitution’s development led by L. Kravchuk had an important political significance as well as its approval in the middle of June the next year.

The independence of Ukraine was confirmed in December 1991 at first by the signing of agreement in Beloveska Forest between the governors of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine concerning the end of Soviet Union’s existence and the transforming all the power to republican governments and then a decision in Alma-Ata concerning the elimination of the Soviet Union’s agreement in 1922 and creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) as an international union of equal states[5]. Ukraine was recognized by the world society, which facilitated the development of new state.

The second stage – 19911993 years – the development of constitutional process in the conditions of market mechanisms’ creation and formation of many parties in the political system.

The state independence of Ukraine started rapidly to be filled with real content[6]. The democratic law of citizenship was approved, as well as the state flag, a small coat of arms and national anthem of Ukraine; own military forces, Security Service, National Guards, Border arms, customs service were created. Ukraine initiated the refusal from nuclear weapon, and withdrew it from own territory, having obtained the status of the state without nuclear weapon and joined the Agreement of not spreading the nuclear weapon for the territory safety and state sovereignty from the USA and Russia.

The process of market mechanisms’ formation as well as privatization were conducted rapidly and often accidentally. New political parties appeared everywhere among which the division for left – Socialists’ Party of Ukraine, Communists’ Party, Rural Party of Ukraine, for right – National Movement of Ukraine, Ukrainian Republican Party, Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, Christian-Democratic Party of Ukraine, and for central – Party of Democratic Revival, Liberal Party of Ukraine, Social-Democratic Party of Ukraine, United Social-Democratic Party of Ukraine.

The constitutional process was being developed and some significant changes and amendments were introduced to the Constitution of the former Ukrainian Soviet Social Republic, which significantly changed the structure of state power bodies and correlations between them[7]. At the same time, on the 30th of June 1992 the commission on new Ukrainian constitution development offered its first project for consideration at the Supreme Council. It was approved by the European commission „For democracy because of human rights” and was positively estimated by foreign and Ukrainian experts. After approval by the parliament during the first reading and general national discussion the second updated project of constitution was created. In the autumn of 1993 the Supreme Council started its discussion and on the 10th of November the third final project of constitution was published. Unfortunately, this project was not offered for plenary session of Ukrainian parliament because of political crisis. It ended with making a decision of the Supreme Council to make pre-term parliamentary and presidential elections, in the summer of 1994[8] Ukraine lost a real chance at the beginning of its state formation to get an advanced democratic constitution as a basis for further effective state developing processes.

The third type – 19931996 years – the complication of inside political situation during the strengthening of internal basics and external political guarantees of Ukrainian state.

In spite of the fact that constitutional process had not been completed, irreversible but pretty much controversial market changes were going on. Unfortunately, they were accompanied by increasing big social and economic difficulties and problems. The production tempo was falling rapidly, the gross domestic product was being cut, the inflation rate was rising unpredictably, people were becoming more financially underprivileged. At the same time the state government was trying to hold the balance of governing, that often made the development and formation of market reforms slow down. These phenomena were given a literate name „shock without a therapy”.

This complicated inside political situation led to L. Kravchuk’s failure and L. Kuchma’s winning the pre-term presidential elections in the summer of 1994[9]. The socialist’s leader O. Moroz became the head of the Supreme Council, which was elected according to the electing majority system on the basis of Ukrainian national deputies’ election law. The new constitutional commission was formed by new governors of the state and in November of 1994 a constitutional process was revived.

However, the controversy which appeared between different branches of power concerning the constitution of Ukraine and the fight for power led to constitutional crisis. It was overcome only after the signing of legally valid Constitutional agreement on the 8th of June 1995 between the Supreme Council and the President of Ukraine „About the main means of organization and functioning of the state power as well as local administrative bodies in Ukraine till the approval of the new Ukrainian constitution”[10]. In the conditions of particular political crisis situation it played a positive role in the constitutional process, preventing the turning of conflict between power branches into force methods of its solution and starting the demolition of incapable state power system through the way of councils and becoming an important reason for speeding up the constitutional process.

On international arena Ukraine continued to strengthen its positions as an out of block state already without nuclear weapon. Ukrainian peacemakers participated in solving a number of conflicts and in supporting peace in hot points of the planet, on the Balkans in particular. The development of relations with Western states and international organizations had a significant meaning for the final choosing of the external political state course. So in 1994 Ukraine joined the cooperation programme with the NATO „Partnership for the sake of peace”, and at the end of 1995 became a member of the „The Council of Europe”[11].

The fourth stage – 19961999 years – approval and introduction of Constitution in 1996 and formation of the ground for radical effective changes in all spheres of Ukrainian society’s life.

The final stage of constitutional process started at the beginning of 1996. Constitutional commission finished the project of the main law of our state and on the 20th of March 1996 it was presented on the special meeting of the Supreme Council, and in April it was published for national discussion. During this discussion 8,000 proposals and amendments were sent by Ukrainian citizens. Besides this, a number of alternative constitutional projects were offered. However, the Supreme Council decided to complete the project of constitution, and then accepted it after the first reading’s discussion. The second reading of the project started on the 19th of June.

But the delay in new Ukrainian constitution’s approval forced the president to announce an Order on the 26th of June for the national referendum concerning this question on the 25th of September 1996. After that the Supreme Council proved that it can consolidate and overcome the deviations, many of which did not have any special significance. In 15.5 hours of non-stop work, on the 28th of June 1996, in the morning, the 5th session of the Supreme Council approved the Constitution of Ukraine in the second and third readings[12]. 315 deputies voted for it, opposed – 36, restrained – 12, did not vote – 30. In such a successful way a continuous constitutional process was over. The 28th of June was declared a holiday. The approval of constitution meant the completion of Ukrainian formation as a sovereign independent state, the full rights subject of the European and world society.

Undoubtedly, the approval of the main state law was positively reflected on its inside political processes and facilitated the strengthening of international position of Ukraine. The tempo of economic production falling significantly stopped and inflation rate decreased, the introduction of new national convertible monetary unit – hryvna supported this. Settling down a number of Ukraine’s contradictions with own neighbours and signing the basic agreements on the 26th of May 1997 with Russian Federation and on the 3rd of 1997 with Romania and also an agreement of understanding between the Ukrainian and Polish presidents in 1998. Expanding the pro-western vector of external political state course, Ukraine made a new agreement within Madrid summit with the military-political organization about the special partnership. At the same time our state was expanding its participation in a constructive dialogue within CIS, and also became a formal leader of GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Moldova)[13].

The constitution of Ukraine became a basis for political and elective system’s improvement. The new law relating to national deputies’ election on all levels according to mixed majority system was approved (225 deputies to the Supreme Council were being elected from parties according the party lists, personally through voting for a particular candidate). On the basis of this law the elections were held on the 29th of March in 1998 and the new deputies’ corpus of Ukraine was formed[14].

The fifth stage – since 1999 – a rising line of development (first of all in social and economic spheres).

This stage, in spite of serious political collisions relating to referendum of 1999 concerning the introduction of changes to the valid Constitution of Ukraine, the presidential elections in autumn of 1999 (after the second part of voting, the acting head of the state L. Kuchma won the elections), the murder of the journalist G. Gongadze and so-called „cassette” scandal which became a break point in social-political market changes, the modernization of the legislative basis of Ukraine and increasing its activity on the international arena. The new government of V. Yushchenko managed to make Ukrainian currency stable as well as to strengthen it, to speed up the tempo of economic development, which made Ukraine to be the first among the former Soviet Union’s republics and to occupy the certain positions in Europe. The rapid tempo of market changes enabled to raise scholarships and salaries for the citizens of Ukraine, having strengthened the level of population’s social protection and its trust towards the official state power structures.

Undoubtedly, the political independence of our state and its inside political and recent market achievements are the positive factors, due to which geopolitical situation on the European continent becomes stable, balanced, predictable. This corresponds entirely to the main principles of contemporary external Ukrainian politics: first of all, it should be consequent and predictable, concluding from recognition of the existing borders and not to intrude into the internal affairs of other states, to be driven by law and to recognize the priority of international law, to be based on the conception „own safety due to the safety for everyone”. From the very beginning of Ukrainian independence development, the given principles in combination with the distant politics with Russia and coming closer to Europe facilitated the real entrance of Ukraine into Central-Eastern European space and outlining in Eurasian space[15]. However, the advancement in this direction ca not occur on their own, as years of our independence show, it requires the further consequent, radical, political economic and social changes[16]. And here, in spite of achievements and success, there are serious drawbacks.

The problems and hardships of Ukraine’s entrance into general European integration processes, its not meeting the international state potential have lately been caused by such main following circumstances[17]:

1)      general strategic deformation of external politics’ vector, that sometimes literally „dance” between the pro-Western and the pro-Russian courses;

2)      complicated social-political situation in the second half of 20002001, which in spite of real progress in the economic sphere led to the opposition in the Ukrainian society, and to the rejection of the pro-Western government of V. Yushchenko;

3)      the actual absence of state politics’ transparency as the most important factor of democratic society;

4)      Contradicting processes in implementing an important consistent transformation – privatization, which during 20002001 was accompanied by constant conflicts, between different power branches in particular, and the widespread usage of black PR technologies;

5)      the absence of persistent actions from the government, targeted on speeding up the state entrance into the World Trade Organization, which membership is a minimum necessary requirement of economic advancement to world markets;

6)      insufficient, in spite of significant positive results, harmonizing of Ukrainian legislation with European, what causes tension in relations of our state with general European structures, with the Council of Europe in particular;

7)      loss of important power resources of external political impact, where one of the most recent was the closure of Chernobyl nuclear station.

The given circumstances together with the introduction of visas by Ukraine’s neighbors on its western borders can not only complicate seriously the perspectives of integration in general European economic space but to turn our country into „grey zone” of Central-Eastern Europe for a long time. In other words, for a long time the status of weakly developed country with a small external debt can be stuck to Ukraine, which is not perspective for external investors, where the shade market and the group of the financially underprivileged will grow.

Here is one of the important lessons of our 10 years of independence, it is necessary to realize clearly that „Ukrainian way” to the United Europe will not be simple. Ukraine, from continental integration processes’ point of view is „only on its way back to Europe”. That’s why on famous Ukrainian philosopher M. Popovych’s opinion „integration of Ukraine into political, economic European space cannot be in immediate future, where it should meet Ukrainian and European interests. Western, Central and Eastern Europe union can give a huge stimulus for European civilization which is much more powerful than western European integration”[18]. However, today the reality is that Ukraine according to many points does not meet the requirements for joining the European Union.

Such a conclusion, unfortunately was not overcome on the 6th stage of Ukrainian state development, which has started since the end of 2004[19]. It is implemented by new reality, where Ukrainian society and state are as an outcome of presidential elections in 2004 (after the second part of voting the opposed candidate Victor Yushchenko won), after Orange revolution on the 22nd of November 2004 – January 23rd 2005, parliamentary elections in 2006[20]. Having saved many of the positive tendencies in the development of our society and state it should be stated about the sharpening of opposition between different power branches. Presidential orders in April 2007 relating to dismissal of the Supreme Council and appointing the new parliamentary elections in Ukraine with a view to continue the deepening of democratic positive tendencies in the state and social development.

So, from inside political situation in Ukraine and real outcome of political, economic, social, legislative reforms will influence the rapidity of our advancement to joining the EU initially from the agreement of cooperation to associational membership in this organization and later to complete joining this „civilized unity” which is Europe not just in geographical dimension, but from the modern integration processes’ development on the continent[21]. This corresponds to the National Ukrainian safety conception which is oriented on both – partnership relations with Russia and implementation of the strategic goal – joining the general process of European integration, through establishment and development of effective political science regional cooperation in various fields of society’s and state’s life.

[1] С. С. Троян, Вступ до теорії політики. Навчальний посібник, Київ 2005, p. 157.

[2] Трансформація політичної системи: соціальні перетворення та законодавчий процес. Всеукраїнська теоре­тична й науково-практична конференція з правознавства, політології та соціології, „Віче”, 2007,14.

[3] The declaration about the state sovereignty of Ukraine from the 16th of July 1990.

[4] The declaration of Ukrainian independence from the 24th of August 1991.

[5] В. М. Матвієнко, Співдружність Незалежних Держав (СНД): історія створення та розвитку [In:] Вісник Київського університету, Series Міжнародні відносини, Issue 6, Київ 1997; Ф. М. Рудич, Чи багато потрібно владі? (Україна в контексті трансформації політичних структур в країнах СНД і Балтії, Центральної і Східної Європи), Київ 1998

[6] See: Н. П. Барановська, В. Ф. Верстюк, С. В. Віднянський та ін., Україна: утвердження незалежної держави (19912001), ed. В. М. Литвин, Київ 2001.

[7] Україна: утвердження незалежної держави (19912001), pp. 178–179.

[8] Ibidem, pp. 179–180.

[9] Ibidem, p. 181.

[10] The constitutional agreement between the Supreme Council and the president of Ukraine About the main actions of functioning and organization of state power and local self-government in Ukraine until the new constitution is approved from the 8th of June 1995.

[11] О. Івченко, Україна в системі міжнародних відносин: історична ретроспектива та сучасний стан, Київ 1997; Л. Д. Васильєва-Чекаленко, Україна в міжнародних відносинах (19441996 рр.), Київ 1998.

[12] The Constitution of Ukraine: Approved by the Supreme Council on the 28th of June 1996.

[13] See, for example: В. М Литвин, Україна на межі тисячоліть (19912000), Київ 2000.

[14] Україна: утвердження незалежної держави (19912001), pp. 191–192.

[15] See, for example: Украина и Россия в новом геополитическом пространстве, Киев 1995; В. Я. Гельман, Из огня да в полымя? Динамика постсоветских режимов в сравнительной перспективе, „Полис”, 2007,2.

[16] Трансформація політичної системи, Віче”, 2007, № 14.

[17] С. С. Троян, Вступ до теорії політики, pp. 164165.

[18] М. В. Попович, Україна-Європа – ліві-праві, Київ 1997.

[19] В. В. Лапкин, В. И. Пантин, Политические трансформации в России и на Украине в 20042006 гг.: причины и возможные последствия, „Полис”, 2007,1.

[20] See: Wiktoria Wiktora: Cz³owiek roku 2004, Wprost”, 2005, 1, pp. 2037; J. Wilczak, Talia Julii, „Polityka”, 2005, 7, pp. 5051.

[21] Трансформація політичної системи, „Віче”, 2007, № 14.