The head of the Batkivshchyna party, former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, believes that amending the Constitution is not an acceptable method for resolving the current social and political crisis.
“In this particular situation, it is not possible to amend the Constitution because both sides have diametrically opposing plans regarding constitutional changes. The opposition wants to achieve a balance of powers –to change the relationship between the government and the citizen, between the government and civil society, to implement European values through the Constitution. Yanukovych plans to change the Constitution in order to guarantee his own hold on power in case he loses the 2015 (presidential) election,” Yulia Tymoshenko explained in an interview with Dzerkalo Tyzhdnya (ZN UA, “The Weekly Mirror”).
According to Tymoshenko, the goals of the opposition and government in the constitutional process are diametrically opposed. “Compromise is not possible,” she said. “The opposition sincerely seeks a division of powers between the president and parliament where presidential powers are significantly reduced in favor of civil society, local government and parliament. This requirement is completely reasonable and just and I strongly endorse it. I’m sure it will be implemented in the country under a new president,” she concluded.
The former prime minister emphasized that considering current realities in Ukraine, the parliamentary form of government must be based on an honest system of parliamentary elections that would completely prevent corrupt clans and the corrupt administration from unduly influencing people’s choices. “This is why changes to the Constitution that provide for increased parliamentary powers must be implemented together with a new system of parliamentary elections that will prevent political corruption,” she said.
“A new Constitution with a presidential-parliamentary form of government must be introduced only together with the concurrent introduction of scheduled or special parliamentary elections,” she said. “Only then we can expect positive change. If we leave this oligarchic clan-based parliament in place — especially with the current majority-take-all system of elections that is completely controlled by shadow money — and introduce the 2004 Constitution, then we might as well leave Yanukovych as president. Because this degraded version of Ukraine’s parliament will be more like a ”den of thieves” than a political center for European reform.”
Tymoshenko believes that if, under international and popular pressure, the current parliament still manages to adopt the 2004 Constitution, which enables the parliamentary majority to nominate a prime minister and confirm a cabinet, then in 2015 the newly elected president from the democratic opposition will find himself with the same ministers, including the prime minister, currently appointed by Yanukovych — the result of the current clan-based parliamentary majority.” In this situation, the new president, in whom the country will place all its hopes, will not be able to change anything in Ukraine. This will be a new disappointment for Ukrainians, a new defeat for a united Europe, followed by new waves of emigration,” she concluded
Tymoshenko said she discussed this issue during her recent meeting with Arseniy Yatseniuk and Oleksandr Turchynov. “We came to the same conclusion, that changes to the Constitution either will not be accepted at all, or that only the Yanukovych version will be accepted, as was the case with the recent law on parliamentary elections. We must not allow the constitutional process to become transformed into a postponement technique to steadily weaken the popular uprising,” she said.
She said that at the next plenary session of Parliament the opposition would seek a vote on the question of returning to the 2004 Constitution. “We decided to do that to satisfy those who still believe the ruling party will vote to return to the 2004 Constitution. However, if we lack sufficient votes, the Batkivshchyna party will avoid the trap of the constitutional process and will return to it only after the victory of the opposition in the scheduled or snap presidential elections,” she insisted.
“After this victory, we will accept major changes to the Constitution of Ukraine in a form that is not prepared by politicians and we will implement it together with the snap elections. I believe that in the next parliamentary elections, each opposition party has to make half of the party list available to leaders of civil society, who have every right to it. They deserve it due to their sacrifice, courage and decency during the struggle on all the Maidans,” she said.
Translated by Anna Mostovych