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The President is elected by popular vote for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The President is responsible for issuing decrees and orders, and preventing “any actions of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of power that directly or indirectly infringe upon interpretation of the fundamental Law of Ukraine.” In other words, the President’s job is to ensure that nothing is ever accomplished.
Viktor Yanukovych, front man for the Party of Regions, was inaugurated in February 2010 following a closely contested election in which he beat out rival Yulia Tymoshenko by just 3.5% of the vote. Many political insiders have been quick to note the uncanny similarities between Yanukovych and former US President George W. Bush: neither is able to sting together a proper sentence and both will go down in history as the face and definitely not the brain of their respective administrations.
The unicameral supreme council, known as Verkhovna Rada, consists of 450 deputies and is presided over by a Speaker. Elections were last held in 2007, and five parties passed the required vote threshold of 3%. The current make up of this bitterly feuding, fund sucking, time wasting branch is as follows: the Party of Regions (172 seats), President Yanukovych’s party, is extremely popular in Ukraine’s industrial, Russian-speaking, eastern oblasts; Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (152 seats) is led by the former Prime Minister known for her trademark blond peasant braids; Our Ukraine/People's Self Defence (72 seats) is led by former President Viktor Yushchenko and maintains a base among voters in the west; the Communist Party of Ukraine (27 seats) has been steadily losing support since the fall of communism; Lytvyn Bloc (20 seats) is led by current Speaker Vladimir Lytvyn, a man with gorgeous silver hair; and seven independent deputies.
In March, a new majority coalition led by the Party of Regions swooped into Verkhovna Rada and consolidated power by appointing Mykola Azarov, a long-time ally of President Yanukovych, to the position of Prime Minister. The new coalition consists of the Party of Regions, the Communists, Lytvyn Bloc and mercenaries from Our Ukraine/People's Self Defence and Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc. The formation of this new coalition was made possible only via the passing of a controversial amendment (basically unconstitutional) which allows individual deputies to join coalitions without party consent. Welcome to Ukraine, where laws are made to be broken.
The legal system, based on civil law with judicial review of legislative acts, is topped by the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court. We thought of adding a joke here, but realized that everything that happens in these halls of “justice” is far too disturbing to make light of.