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Semi-Presidentialism in Europe$
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Robert Elgie

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198293866

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198293860.001.0001

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(p.260) 13 Ukraine
Semi-Presidentialism in Europe

Andrew Wilson

Oxford University Press

Ukraine can be said to have a semi‐presidential system insofar as it has direct presidential elections combined with a prime minister and a government answerable to both president and parliament. Since winning independence in 1991, Ukraine has also gained a reputation for political gridlock: both of the presidents elected since independence disappointed the initial hopes of their supporters, building up an impressive array of powers on paper, but proving unable to match this in practice. Conflict between presidents, prime ministers, and the chairmen of parliament has been an endemic feature of Ukrainian politics, as have the frustrations of a weak and fractious post‐communist party system. This chapter seeks to explain why semi‐presidentialism has nevertheless provided an attractive form of political compromise in Ukraine's ethnically, linguistically, and regionally divided society, despite the problems of political stasis that it has both reflected and helped to promote. The aim is to explain why circumstances have made it difficult for Ukraine to choose any other regime type, despite the residual enthusiasm of the Ukrainian Left for a Soviet (i.e. parliamentary) republic. The chapter first examines how semi‐presidentialism was established in Ukraine and then looks at Duverger's other key criteria of semi‐presidentialism: the constitutional powers of the key political actors, the nature of the parliamentary majority, and the relations between the president and that majority.

Keywords:   conflict, constitutional powers, government, parliament, parliamentary majority, president, presidential power, prime minister, semi‐presidentialism, Ukraine

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