Ukraine’s constitutional deadline for the formation of a majority government after the 26 March elections has now passed. President Viktor Yushchenko has not indicated what his next move is, and there is much speculation over whether he is preparing to dissolve parliament or is simply negotiating for cabinet portfolios for his Our Ukraine party.
As I understand the Ukrainian constitutional amendments that took effect on 1 January–and Ukrainian experts disagree with one another over their interpretation– the conditions under which Yushchenko could dissolve parliament are lacking. Parliament has sixty days from its first post-election session to form a majority, which then submits a candidate for Prime Minister to the President. As best I can tell (reading translations of the amendments and a Council of Europe analysis), the President has no choice but to formally appoint the candidate put forward by the majority.
That candidate is Viktor Yanukovych, and the majority that has put his name forward is made up of his Party of Regions, the Communist Party, and the erstwhile Yushchenko ally, the Socialist Party. That candidate was put forward before the 24 July deadline, and thus, even though he has not been formally appointed yet, it would seem unlikely that the President could trigger the conditions for dissolution simply by sitting on the nomination of a candidate whom he does not favor.
Yushchenko claims he has until 2 August to make a decision. That may be so, but it would appear that the “decision” must be to accept Yanukovych as Prime Minister. But no doubt–in addition to seeking portfolios–he is looking for a way to claim that the presentation of the majority’s candidate was somehow irregular.
Some members of Yanukovych’s coalition claim that parliament can formally approve the appointment of the Prime Minister if the President fails to act. The President claims that such an act would be unconstitutional. Oleksander Moroz, the head of the Socialist Party, claims that parliament is ready to disobey any dissolution order.
With the parties not having agreed on Constitutional Court nominees to fill vacancies, it is not clear who currently has the authority to rule on such disputes.
Ukraine is genuinely in a constitutional crisis.