Ukraine is a unitary premier-presidential republic: in this political structure, an elected president exists alongside a prime minister and a cabinet. The Constitution of Ukraine, adopted in 1996, defines the framework for the country’s governance and, like in most democratic countries, divides it into legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
The President of Ukraine
In Ukraine, the President serves as the head of state who is responsible for foreign policy. President also holds executive powers that include submissions to the posts of the Prime Minister, the Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs (however, they must be approved by the Parliament), the power to veto legislation passed by the Parliament, and, in some cases, even to dissolute the Parliament.
The president is also the supreme commander-in-chief and chairman of the National Security Council. He appoints and dismisses the top command of the Armed Forces, for example, the Chief of the General Staff. The mobilization is carried out and martial law is initiated by the president’s decision – and it had to be done with Russia’s military aggression against the country.
In Ukraine, the President is elected by popular vote for a five-year term with a maximum of two terms. Since 1991, the country has already seen six different politicians in this position. After the latest 2019 elections, Volodymyr Zelenskyy is the President of Ukraine.
The Prime Minister leads the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, which is the highest body of the executive branch of the Ukrainian government, responsible for implementing government policies and managing day-to-day affairs. Denys Shmyhal, appointed in 2020, is the current Prime Minister of Ukraine.
The Cabinet of Ministers is composed of various ministers appointed by The Parliament upon the Prime Minister’s recommendation (with the exception of the Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs, who the President recommends).
The number of Ministries, and therefore Ministers, may change depending on the current situation and the country’s needs. For example, the Ministry of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories was created in 2016. Currently, the Cabinet consists of 26 members.
The Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada in Ukraine, represents the legislative branch of the government. The Verkhovna Rada plays a crucial role in shaping and passing laws, approving the state budget, and overseeing the work of the government.
Ukrainian parliament consists of 450 members who are elected for five years through a mixed electoral system: some seats are allocated based on proportional representation and others through single-member constituencies.
Ukraine has a multi-party system, with several dozen political parties participating in the elections. In 2019, five parties passed the 5% mark and made it to the parliament, with the Servant of the People party winning 254 seats. In total, less than the usual 450 seats were taken: there were no elections within single-member constituencies in the temporarily occupied territories. As of 2023, even more parliament seats are empty as some went to defend the country on the frontline or moved abroad.
At the same time, the Parliament needs a majority to pass the decision, and in some cases even two-thirds of the 450 votes. With various political parties and individual members, a coalition must be formed – with a lot of advocating for the agendas and searching for a middle ground – to ensure that majority.
Speaking about the government in Ukraine, it is also important to note the role of local authorities. Since 2014, a decentralization reform has been taking place: significant powers and budgets have been transferred from state bodies to local self-government bodies. Local authorities. The main goal is to form effective and responsible local authorities capable of providing a comfortable and safe environment for people to live throughout the territory of Ukraine.
Since restoring independence in 1991, Ukraine has made notable strides in its democratic development. Notably, Ukraine has made significant improvements in conducting fair elections, fostering political pluralism, and increasing transparency within institutions. And the country continues to make progress, particularly in areas such as judicial reform, which has seen significant advancements in recent years.