As president Victor Yushchenko's rating plummets further there is a chance that Kiev's political elite may agree to form a parliamentary republic
In a poll by FOM-Ukraina  in mid-November 2008, Viktor Yushchenko's popularity reached a new low. With 3% of the respondents saying they would vote for him in elections, Ukraine's current President trails not only far behind his main contenders Yulia Orange Revolution, this circumstance also provides the Orange camp with a window of opportunity to complete its second push for democratization started four years ago. In 2009, Ukraine will have a rare chance to get rid of its ill-construed semi-presidential system.and Viktor Yanukovich. Yushchenko's support is also below the percentage of popular backing that such minor politicians as Arseny Yatsenyuk, and Volodymyr Litvin currently receive. It has been clear to most observers for a couple of years now that Yushchenko's chances for a second term are, at best, dim. One hopes that now even the detached President and his myopic aides will acknowledge that a re-election of the incumbent is beyond reach. As bitter as this might be for the hero of the
After the fall of the USSR, most countries emerging from it adopted a slightly transfigured version of the Soviet executive structure in which the respective republic's First Party Secretary was replaced by the President - a model that had been provided by Gorbachev, on the Union level, already in 1989. In the aftermath, this transmutation was, in public, rationalized as an adoption of the "French model of government." In reality, the division of executive power between the President and Prime-Minister in much of the post-Soviet world had little to do with learning from France's experiences, but was, instead, the result of idiosyncratic power-struggles in each of the . The seemingly novel configurations of institutions in the central apparatuses of the Newly Independent States were christened "parliamentary-presidential" or "presidential-parliamentary" though, in most cases, these political systems were or, still, are neither. Rather, they constitute(d) autocracies or oligarchies with a rubber-stamp or/and toothless parliament, and with a "Head of Government" who is no head and does not govern, but is merely the country's highest ranking bureaucrat, and often plays the role of a scapegoat, in the case things go wrong.
In Ukraine, this started to change in late 2004 when it were, oddly, the opponents of the Orange Revolution who - out of ad hoc calculations - initiated a partial shift of prerogatives from the President to the Prime-Minister as well as to the Rada thus creating something close to real semi-presidentialism. As important as this transfer of power was for the re-democratization of Ukraine, it did not solve, but merely transformed the problem. Since then, Ukraine has a divided government with a duumvirate, at its top. To understand that this is unsatisfactory is not something that Ukrainians need to be explained by political scientists. Since 2005, the country has experienced such agonizing conflicts between the President, on the one side, and its two "cohabitating" Prime-Ministers (Timoshenko, Yanukovich), on the other, that there are, probably, few Ukrainians left who think that this political solution has been good for their homeland.
It should be noted that not only Moscow's "political technologists", but also a number of serious international political scientists advocate presidentialism, and see this form of democracy as superior to - the world oldest democracy, the US, being the obvious example. However, concerning the specific challenges that young democracies are facing, study after study has shown that the stronger a new republic's parliament is the better are the chances that genuine political pluralism will survive and that the novel system of government will consolidate. Notably, these findings are not outcomes of theoretical considerations by experts who may have a preference for this or that form of government. Instead, the inference that parliamentarianism is better for an emerging democracy than a presidential or semi-presidential system is based on empirical research and results from more or less wide-ranging cross-national investigations.
The conclusion for a country like Ukraine is that, in order to become a more stable and effective democracy, it should transform sooner rather than later into a parliamentary republic. While political conflicts will continue to be fought ferociously in such a system, they will happen within the parliament, and not between parliament and president. Coalition building will become the major feature of the political process, and replace such strategies as brinkmanship, intimidation and bluffing prominent during intra-executive confrontations in semi-presidential systems. Parlamentarians able to build bridges between political opponents and not ideologues whipping up their political camps will take center-stage. Apart from that, for Ukraine, simply saving the costs of another round of elections, and having only one national poll every four years will help to save much money and energy that is dearly needed to further reform and stabilize this young nation-state.
M. Steven Fish, "Creative Constitutions: How Do Parliamentary Powers Shape the Electoral Arena?", in: Andreas Schedler, ed., Electoral : The Dynamics of Unfree Competition. Boulder, CO 2006.
Olexiy Haran, From Presidentialism to Parliamentarianism: Strengthening or Weakening Democracy in Ukraine. PONARS Policy Memo 412. Washington, DC 2006, http://www.csis. org/media/ csis/pubs/ pm_0412.pdf.
Juan Linz and , eds., The Failure of Presidential Democracy. 2 vols. Baltimore and London 1994.
Alfred Stepan and Cindy Skach, "Constitutional Frameworks and : Parliamentarianism versus Presidentialism, " World Politics 46:1 (1993).