The topic of limiting the presidential powers was raised in the Verkhovna Rada again. This time the initiative was taken by the party Self Reliance. Read further about what MPs offer this time, what the reaction of other politicians is, whether it is necessary to limit the power now and which powers are considered unconstitutional by experts.

What and why is offered this time?

The attempts to deprive the president of certain powers is not the first and certainly not something new to modern Ukraine. However, now this idea is discussed with great zeal, and the debate has acquired a new degree. This time the bill on limiting the presidential powers was put forward by the party Self Reliance. The vice-speaker of the Rada Oksana Syroid explains that the party simply does not want the president to be a hostage of the oligarchs.

According to her, the rules of the game are not about limitations, but rather protection, which lies in the impossibility of oligarchs’ influence on the president. Syroid notes: the purpose of the new bill is not to limit the presidential power, but to bring it into line with the constitution.

“Anyone who gets such a volume of power becomes very vulnerable. And when there is a law that sets the rules of the game, the presidents will say to anyone who tries to influence him: “I cannot, I have restrictions established by law.” Subconsciously, people hope for “a good king” and think “what if this one will not be a tyrant. What if he is better because he is new”. But the power itself corrupts people, and any power must be controlled and responsible. That’s why we need a Law on the President,” Oksana Syroid is convinced.

How do other politicians treat the bill?

The initiated bill was accepted positively not by all. For example, Anatolii Hrytsenko, a candidate on this year’s presidential election, assured that it is better not to accept and even register it. He says it is harmful to Ukraine.

“Is it necessary to deprive the President of the existing unconstitutional staffing powers as to Ukroboronprom, or of state regulators? Yes, it is. And as a presidential candidate, I suggested it myself. But… It is categorically unacceptable to deprive/limit the constitutional powers of the president, transferring the issues of personnel policy and accountability through the Ministry of Defence, the Security Service of Ukraine, the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine, even the membership of NSDC of Ukraine to the Verkhovna Rada, the Cabinet of the Ministers or the Prime Minister,” the politician is convinced.

But people’s deputy Ihor Popov is convinced that the announced proposals to limit the powers of the President… go beyond the Constitution of Ukraine themselves.

“It is possible to limit the uncharacteristic functions that are not provided by the Constitution. However, taking away the clearly described personnel and security powers is illegal and incorrect. The president is elected by direct popular vote, and his mandate is the strongest. The president, who is elected in the parliament, may have limited powers, but this is another long story, which involves changes in the Constitution,” the people’s deputy said.

The people’s deputy Semen Semenchenko supports the general idea of an initiative, however, opposes this exact bill. According to him, in the current elections, Ukrainians voted for the president with certain powers, so it is wrong to immediately cancel them, without allowing the newly elected guarantor to receive them.

“I am for the regulation of the powers of the president. I am for the presidential powers registered by the law. But I am against this being done at this time, under this procedure, in this wording and with such people in the coalition. Putting it very briefly – I will not vote for it in this edition. And I advise not doing it to others,” the people’s deputy assured.

People’s Deputy Viktoria Voitsitska is convinced that it was necessary to introduce such a bill either during the cadence of Petro Poroshenko or after the parliamentary elections in the autumn of 2019.

“Today the society has huge expectations from the newly elected President. And it is he who must demonstrate readiness to fulfil the promises that have been publicly announced,” the politician assured. In general, Voitsitska proposes to start an open discussion, in which the society will take part.

What do experts say?

The political scientist Vladyslav Serdiuk assured that the initiative to reduce presidential powers now looks very strange and even politically motivated.

“The strange thing is that Self Reliance party got so actively involved in this process for some reason only immediately after the elections. They did not have any problems with Poroshenko for 5 years. I am talking about reducing the possibility of appointment of the defence minister, attorney general, chairman of the SSU, the minister of foreign affairs, etc. So, as Razumkov aptly said, the Rada is trying to turn the president into something like the queen of England. But the problem is that the voters did not vote for the queen of England, but for a full-fledged president. The reduction of powers, of course, might be apt, but not at this stage. It should be done by Zelensky, not Poroshenko. Otherwise, it will look like an attempt to defeat the political opponent,” the expert argues.

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But Maryna Bahrova, a member of the Board of the international union Institute of National Policy, is convinced that a certain conflict of public interests between the president and the prime minister exists now, and this conflict can be solved by consolidating a part of the powers in favour of the prime minister.

“According to the constitution, the main powers of the president are the implementation of the country’s foreign policy. The head of government is mainly responsible for internal affairs, economy, tariffs, gas prices, etc. The elimination of the conflict of public interests between the president and the prime minister in favour of the latter may ensure the implementation of real administrative reforms, eliminate irresponsibility and the constant shifting of responsibility,” Ms Bahrova said.

Yuliia Kyrychenko, an expert of the Center for Political and Legal Reforms and co-chairman of the Council of the Reanimation Package of Reforms, agrees that now we have a distorted model of presidential powers, which does not correspond to the main law of the country.

“As a result of the power of different presidents, we have a curvature of the parliamentary-presidential constitutional model. This was done by the parliament itself, that in many laws established the powers of the president, which contradict the constitution. The main thing is to amend these laws and bring them into line. We must begin to respect the constitution,” the expert said in one of the broadcasts.

Are all the powers of the president constitutional?

Experts note that many powers of the president go beyond the constitution. In particular, Yuliia Kyrychenko, an expert of the Center for Political and Legal Reforms and co-chairman of the Council of Reanimation Package of Reforms, emphasized it in her recent article for DT.

In particular, the list of such powers is the appointment of the director of NABU, the appointment of three people in the competition commission that elects the director of NABU, as well as the appointment of one of the three persons who audits the activities of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau. In addition, the expert believes that we should recognize the powers of the president to appoint the director of the State Bureau of Investigation, or to appoint individuals to the competition committee that elects a director of the SBI, or to appoint a person involved in the committee for the selection of members of the NAPC etc.

“— Appointment and dismissal of the chairman and members of the National Commission for State Regulation of Communications and Information; approval of the regulations on its activities (article 17 of the law of Ukraine “On telecommunications”);

— appointment and dismissal of the chairman of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine with the consent of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (article 6, article 9 of the law “On the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine”);

— appointment of the first deputy and deputy chairman of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine on the proposal of the Prime Minister of Ukraine and their dismissal (article 10 of the law of Ukraine “On the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine”);

— responsibility of the State Property Fund of Ukraine to the President of Ukraine. The State Property Fund of Ukraine exercises powers defined by the laws of Ukraine and related to the implementation of the tasks assigned to it by the President of Ukraine: appointment of the chairman of the State Property Fund, his first Deputy and Deputy by the President on the proposal of the Prime Minister of Ukraine and their dismissal (article 1, article 5, article 8 of the law of Ukraine “On the State Property Fund”);

— powers to issue regulatory acts (regulatory legal act, which or certain provisions of which are aimed at the legal regulation of economic relations, as well as administrative relations between regulatory authorities or other public authorities and business entities) (article 1 of the law of Ukraine “On the basis of state regulatory policy in the field of economic activity”);

— appointment of one representative to the Commission on the higher corps of the civil service (article 14 of the law of Ukraine “On civil service”);

— initiation of the creation of special (free) and other zones (article 5 of the law of Ukraine “On general principles of creation and functioning of special (free) economic zones”);

— the duty of the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine to make a forecast of the State budget of Ukraine for the next two budget periods, to develop a draft of the main directions of budget policy for the next budget period in accordance with the annual address of the president (article 21, article 33 of the Budget code);

— appointment of five members of the Supervisory Board of the State Bank (article 7 of the law of Ukraine “On banks and banking”);

— approval of the Regulations on the National Securities and Stock Market Commission, approval of stock market development programs; (p. 4, p. 9 of the Regulations on the National Securities and Stock Market Commission);

— approval of the Regulations on the National Commission for State Regulation of Financial Services Markets;

— appointment of seven members of the Board of the Savings Fund (article 81 of the law of Ukraine “On compulsory state pension insurance”);

— appointment of two members of the Competition Commission for the selection of members of the National Commission for State Regulation in the fields of energy and utilities; appointment of the members of the Regulator out of the candidates selected by the Competition Commission. (part 3 of article 8 of the law of Ukraine “On the National Commission for State Regulation in the Fields of Energy and Utilities”),” the article of Yuliia Kyrychenko states.

Text by Dmytro Zhuravel

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