Ukrainian president reorganises government

Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych has dismissed several government members today. The relevant presidential decrees had been published on the president’s website late Thursday night.

President Yanukovych’s decision is presented as part of the administrative reform launched yesterday. The reform compromises a reorganisation of the government, its agencies and services. The government will from now on have 17 members compared to 24 before; the number of ministries has been cut down from 20 to 16. All ministers of the abolished ministries as well as five other government members were dismissed from their posts; the remaining eleven members stay in their posts. A full list of dismissals and new appointments can be found here.

The president has furthermore ordered that the staff associated with the cabinet of ministers (currently 1,174 people) be cut by at least 50%. According to the deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, Hanna Herman, prime minister Azarov has already agreed to this plan.

A reform of the old and ineffective Ukrainian administration was undoubtedly necessary – especially with regard to inefficiency the government apparatus (caused mainly the duplication of several functions and the lack of responsibility resulting therefrom). The reform will also help decrease the budget which is necessary for a continued cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In an effort to revive the domestic economy and attract the interest of foreign investors, Ukraine might receive up to $15 billion from the IMF over a period of two and a half years.

However, one should not forget that this massive reorganisation of the government was ordered by president Yanukovych alone – not by a vote in parliament but by using a series of presidential decrees. The dramatic decrease in the staff of the cabinet of ministers now also increases the role of the presidential administration and the president as the main initiator of political change. After the ruling of Ukraine’s Constitutional Court earlier this year, president Yanukovych now again disposes of the power to unilaterally dismiss and appoint cabinet members and determine the organisation of the government. These powers together with others had been transferred to parliament in 2004 and 2005 after the Orange Revolution. The Constitutional Court, however, ruled them unconstitutional after several of its members had been exchanged by judges loyal to the new president.

It becomes more and more evident that Ukraine is moving away from a balance of power between president and a government responsible to and backed by parliament – and towards a basically presidential system with a figurehead prime minister which closely resembles Russia during the presidency of Vladimir Putin.

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