Severinsen:“The crisis in Ukraine was foreseeable”


The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe [PACE] is planning to pass a resolution on the functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine, following an urgent debate on the situation in Ukraine.

PACE co-rapporteurs on Ukraine Hanne Severinsen and Renate Wohlwend believe that the present political crisis was foreseeable and inevitable. This is stated in their explanatory notes to the draft resolution.

In their opinion, 6 key factors have contributed to the present crisis.

Firstly, the constitutional amendments [the “political reform”] of 2004 created “legislative chaos” and a “systemic constitutional crisis”. Furthermore, by the time the amendments came into force, many of the legislative norms had not been coordinated, or even agreed.

The second factor which they name is that following the Orange Revolution truly democratic institutions were not created in Ukraine. “The state machine can, as before, be used as a lever in political battles. The Constitutional Court has demonstrated its ineffectiveness, the judicial system is not fulfilling its functions, the rights of the opposition are not set down in law, the organization of political parties still fails to meet democratic standards, while the political influence of civic society exists merely on paper”, the co-rapporteurs state in their note.

The third reason they give is that people’s expectations after the Orange Revolution have largely not been met. They mention, for example, that although some democratic changes as far as safeguarding fundamental liberties have been made, the promises to punish those guilty of the vote-rigging and to investigate such cases as the murder of Georgy Gongadze have not been kept. An added blow for many in Ukraine was the appointment of Viktor Yanukovych as Prime Minister after the “orange forces” were unable to form a coalition.

“The reluctance of the Party of the Regions to acknowledge responsibility for the rigging of the 2004 elections, combined with the insufficient political will of President Yushchenko to bring the case to court, increased scepticism amongst a wide part of the public”, the note says.

The fourth factor given is the fact that the constitutional amendments are dependent on the will of political forces and the paralysis of constitutional court proceedings.

The co-rapporteurs also comment that Ukrainian political forces have not succeeded in uniting the “two banks of the Dnipro River”, and point to the lack of democratic traditions and an understanding of parliamentary pluralism.

Earlier, Hanne Severinsen stated that it was possible that the draft resolution would contain a recommendation regarding new elections.

At the same time, in an interview to the BBC, she noted that early elections would demand changes to electoral legislation.  She also said that it would be better to delay them in order to allow all political forces to take part.

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