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2017-11-23

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Parliament

In accordance with the Constitution, the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) is the sole legislative organ of the country.
 
The name ‘Verkhovna Rada’ (lit. the Supreme Council) was initially used in the text of the Soviet Constitution of 1937.  The existence of representative structures of power is an old political tradition in Ukraine regularly recommenced during the centuries. It was viche, a general assembly of people of a town or principality in the Kyivan Rus.  Cossacks’ councils in the Sich of Zaporizhia that later existed as village and province moots.  There was also the Central Rada of the Ukrainian People’s Republic during 1917 to 1918.
 
The Verkhovna Rada of independent Ukraine has started out on July 16, 1990. It is on this day the Supreme Council of the Ukrainian SSR of the 12th convocation had voted in favor of the Declaration of the Ukrainian state sovereignty. In accordance with the document, Article 6 of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic had been abrogated and separation of powers into legislative, executive and judiciary branches set the foundation of the machinery of government into motion.
 
From the time of unanimous backing by the Verkhovna Rada of the Act of Declaration of the Ukrainian Independence on August 24, 1991, the rebirth of the Parliament in new conditions began. In February of 2000 it adopted the decision to alter the numeration of convocation making the 12th convocation of the Parliament.  It then operated on the permanent basis from 1990 until 1994 when it was named the First Convocation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

 
Structure of the Legislative Body
 
In Ukraine, unicameral Parliament has been established and it is adequate to the constitutional government of the country as a unitary state.
 
Four hundred and fifty deputies comprise the Verkhovna Rada, and they are elected by secret ballot for four-year term through the general, equal and direct suffrage.
 
The Head of the Verkhovna Rada is chosen by secret voting of the deputies. The Head then presides over the Parliament with two Deputies which are also elected by legislators balloting on the proposal. In their activity, the Head of the Verkhovna Rada and the Deputies are assisted by the appropriate Secretariats.
 
The principal special agencies of the Verkhovna Rada are the Committees that perform law drafting. This Committee is designated to be major elaborator of a certain bill or draft. This committee generalizes and classifies the proposals, amendments and conclusions of other Committees preparing them for consideration by the Vekhovna Rada.
 
Within the scope of its power, the Verkhovna Rada is authorized to form special interim commissions for the preparation of issues and preliminary considerations.
 
The Verkhovna Rada may form interim investigating commissions to look into the matters of public interest that are subject to no less than one third of the constitutional composition of body voting in its favor.
 
On behalf of the Verkhovna Rada the Accounting Chamber is formed to audit the state budget expenditures.

 
Deputies
 
People’s deputies discharge their duties on a permanent basis. They are not allowed to have other representation mandate or be in government service.
 
The delegated power of the people’s deputies of Ukraine starts from the moment of taking the loyalty oath to Ukraine. The refusal to swear entails losing a deputy’s mandate.
 
People’s deputies are ensured parliamentary immunity, which may be revoked only in special circumstances.

People's deputies of Ukraine may voluntarily unite themselves into deputies' groups called factions with no less than 25 members. Deputies' groups are formed both on a party and a non-party basis. Deputies' groups formed on party basis are called 'factions'. Non-party deputies may join a faction if they support the program of relevant party. Only 15 or more deputies can form a parliamentary faction, a lawmaker can join only one faction. Each parliamentary faction or group is being headed by its leader.

 
Delegated Powers and Activities
 
The power to initiate legislation belongs to the President, people’s deputies, Cabinet of Ministers and National Bank of Ukraine.
 
The Verkhovna Rada comes into representative power subject to the two thirds of its constitutional composition having been elected, and operates in sessions, which regularly start on the first Tuesdays in February and September. The decisions of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine are adopted exclusively during its plenary meetings through personal voting by the people’s deputies.
 
The Parliament of Ukraine begins its activity with electing the Head, the First Deputy and the Deputy of the Head of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. It also approves the list of Committees that perform lawmaking.

The Verkhovna Rada appoints a Prime Minister and the entire government according to the Prime Minister’s proposal.

The basic powers and tasks of the Verkhovna Rada are to introduce amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine, call an all-Ukrainian referendum on a set range of issues, enact legislation, adopt the State budget of Ukraine, to determine the principles of domestic and foreign policies, and to appoint elections of the President of Ukraine. They also appoint a Prime Minister, declare the state of war, affirm the President’s decisions on the use of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations, adopt the State programs of economic, scientific and technical, social and national-cultural development, preservation of the environment, etc.

The President of Ukraine signs the Laws adopted by the Verkhovna Rada and has the right to veto them.

On the motion of not less than one third of the parliament, the Verkhovna Rada may take into consideration giving the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine responsibility and adopting a non-confidence vote by its constitutional majority.
 
In fulsome detail, the activity of the Verkhovna Rada, is given in Chapter IV of the Constitution of Ukraine that regulates it, as well as on the official site of the Ukrainian parliament (www.rada.gov.ua).


The Parliament

Parliamentary elections to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine were held 7 times in 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2012 and 2014 with deputies of the 1st and 2nd convocations being elected under majority system, those of the 3rd convocation under the mixed system, while those of the 3rd – 8th convocation under the proportional system.
 
The latest elections to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine took place October 26, 2014. The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, announced the date of the election on 25 August 2014. Poroshenko had pressed for early parliamentary elections since his victory in the May 2014 presidential election. Because of the ongoing War in Donbass and the unilateral annexation of Crimea by Russia, the elections were not held in all of the regions of Ukraine. On 2 September 2014 the Central Election Commission of Ukraine announced that voting would not be held for the 12 Verkhovna Rada constituencies in Crimea and Sevastopol. On 25 October they announced that there will also be no voting in 9 constituencies in Donetsk Oblast and 6 constituencies in Luhansk Oblast. Because of this, 27 seats of the 450 seats in parliament will remain unfilled.

The 8th Verkhovna Rada's composition was based upon the results of the October 26, 2014 parliamentary election, which was contested eight months after the 2014 Ukrainian revolution which saw the overthrow of the Yanukovych regime. Eleven parties are represented in the Verkhovna Rada, although only six of them surpassed the mandatory 5 percent electoral threshold to gain representation based upon the proportional representation system.

On the first day of the parliament's session, five of the parliament's pro-European parties, the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, People's Front, Self Reliance, Fatherland, and Radical Party, signed a coalition agreement.

Currently the Parliament has 422 MPs elected on 26 October 2014. Since November 28, 2014, the 8th Verkhovna Rada consists of a total of 420 people's deputies, which belong to one of six political party factions, two parliamentary groups, or the 38 unaffiliated people's deputies. For the first time in Ukrainian history, the Communist Party has failed to gain representation in the Verkhovna Rada.

A large portion of the 8th Verkhovna Rada are freshmen people's deputies who did not have any prior legislative service. This convocation of parliament also has the largest representation of women in the Ukrainian parliament for the first time in history. While the women participation rate in parliament is lower than the 25.3 percent average of the OSCE member states, 49 of the deputies in parliament are women (approximately 12 percent).

Out of the newly elected deputies, 410 of them possess an academic degree; a further 144 deputies possess two or more such degrees. Fifty-four deputies are currently candidates for doctoral sciences, while 27 of them already possess a doctoral degree.

Since November 2014, the Rada of Ukraine is ruled by a coalition consisting of five post-Maidan parties (National Front, Block of Petro Poroshenko, 'Samopomich' party, 'Batkivshchyna' party, and Oleh Lyashko's Radical party) with over 300 votes (constitutional majority) behind it. Per the coalition agreement, the current convocation of parliament will be tasked with passing major reforms to ensure Ukrainian membership in European institutions such as the European Union and NATO, while dealing with the threat of further Russian aggression in the Donbass.

The Radical Party of Oleh Lyashko left the coalition on September 1, 2015 after a vote on constitutional amendments regarding decentralization. Tymoshenko's Batkivshchyna party quit coalition due to a growing number of internal frictions on February 17, 2016. Samopomich followed them a day after.

Parliamentary opposition is mainly represented by 'Opposition Block' (40 MPs), a weak union of ex-members of Party of Regions and associated political groups. It has a relatively a small impact on public opinion in spite of hardships for the population. The non-parliament opposition includes groups divided by their support to Maidan and anti-Maidan cases. Some of these groups- Communist party on the left side, and 'Right Sector' on the far right side- are slowly gaining support from those population that have lost the most from the current economic reforms. Thus far, there is no evidence that such a support can bring those parties to the Parliament. Both parties are under pressure from ruling groups, along with the use of security forces. However, the use of force seems legitimate since both organizations have radical sides participating in the war.