Venice Commission warns against politicizing constitutional changes


Amendments to the Constitution being discussed by Ukrainian politicians should be aimed primarily at ensuring the effective work of the institutions of power. Instead proposals of a political nature, such as changing the status of the Russian language [the Party of the Regions recently presented their ideas for the Constitution making Russian a second official language – translator) place vital constitutional reform in jeopardy.

This view was expressed in an interview to Deutsche Welle by the Deputy Secretary of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission Thomas Markert. He added that the top priority tasks were to regulate relations between parliament, the President and the Cabinet of Ministers, given the conflict between branches of power. In order to stabilize the political system, the Venice Commission is also proposing that Ukraine introduce a norm existing in many European countries of a “constructive vote of no confidence”. “This means that a government cannot be dismissed without at the same time appointing a new one. If there isn’t a majority in parliament able to form a new government, the old remains”.

Mr Market also believes that the principle of unity within the Cabinet of Ministers should be ensured so that all ministers answer to the Head of the Government, and neither the President nor Parliament can dismiss a specific minister. Mr Markert expressed scepticism over the idea from leading factions [another innovation suggested by the Party of the Regions – translator], that the party which gained the largest number of votes would automatically gain an absolute majority of seats in parliament.  He believes that this would only lead to an artificial polarization of the political milieu.

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