Ukraine is a republic with semi-presidential
rule. This means that both the President and the Prime
Minister participate in daily government work but with
different roles. The government is responsible to
Parliament. The most difficult obstacles to building a
modern rule of law have been the deep corruption and the
influence of politicians on the judiciary.
The division of power between the president and
parliament has been the subject of prolonged disputes.
The first independent constitution of Ukraine, adopted
in 1996, was intended to end the disputes by giving the
President great powers. But the fight went on.
Fundamental changes that came about after the orange
revolution in 2004 (see Modern History) and entered into
force in 2006, Parliament's influence increased at the
expense of the President. The changes were difficult to
interpret and quickly reinforced the power struggle. In
2010, the Constitutional Court ruled that this shift of
power was in violation of the Constitution, and the
presidential office regained lost power. But this ruling
in itself was strongly challenged, and the Venice
Commission (Council of Europe's expert committee on
constitutional affairs) objected in a report shortly
thereafter to the legally questionable that the
Constitutional Court rejected constitutional amendments
after six years. The Venice Commission wrote that the
Court acted as if it were over the Constitution and that
its intervention raised questions about how it was
governed by the rule of law in Ukraine. Among other
things, four judges must have resigned after strong
pressure from the government just before the
Constitutional Court's decision.
Total population and chart of Ukraine for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
In February 2014, Parliament voted to restore the
constitutional amendments adopted in 2004. Former
President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign the new law
but fled from office on the same day. He was formally
deposited the following day.
The Western-friendly policies that have been
implemented since then have also been incorporated into
the constitution. Membership in both the EU and NATO as
political targets was entered into the Constitution 2019
The president is head of state and commander-in-chief
and is elected by universal suffrage every five years. A
president can only sit for two terms in a row. The
President signs laws and announces elections and
referendums on constitutional issues. The head of state
nominates the prime minister, defense minister and
foreign minister on a proposal by parliament's majority.
Other Ministers are appointed by Parliament on a
proposal from the Prime Minister. The President may, in
certain circumstances, dissolve Parliament, for example
if a government could not be formed within the
Parliament - the Supreme Council or the Verkhovna
Rada - consists of 450 members who are also elected for
five years. After a legislative change in 2011, 225 of
them were elected according to a proportional system
based on party lists, and the other 225 in direct
elections in one-man election circles. At the same time,
party alliances were banned from running for election
and the threshold for a party to take office in
parliament was raised from 3 to 5 percent of the vote.
Prior to the 2014 elections, the ban on alliances was
abolished, but the 5 percent barrier was retained.
Mandates that would have been filled in direct
elections in rebel-controlled areas in the southeast and
on the Russian-annexed peninsula of Crimea were left
vacant in 2014. Since the 2019 elections, 26 seats have
A new electoral law passed in 2019 means that the
next election, scheduled for 2023, will be
proportionate. The five percent barrier remains. Prior
to the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement ratified in
2014, the election system was an important issue. The
system has been deemed to need reform, partly because
there has been a vote for voting and enabled some
directly doubtful people to run for office in Parliament
(which gives freedom of speech).
Parliament establishes the laws of the country and
adopts the state budget. The president can veto a law,
but Parliament can vote down a two-thirds majority.
Parliament is able to cast a president, but it requires
a three-quarters majority.
Ukraine has been divided into 27 regions: 24 counties
(oblast), the two metropolitan areas of Kiev and
Sevastopol with special status, and Crimea which is an
autonomous republic. Following Russia's annexation of
Crimea in 2014, the peninsula with the city of
Sevastopol is in practice not included in Ukraine,
although the annexation is not recognized by the
Ukrainian government or the outside world. In fact,
parts of eastern Ukraine are in practice beyond
In 2020, a proposal for a new regional subdivision
was presented by the Ministry of Local Government and
Development. The goal is for the districts within the
counties to be considerably smaller, not least to reduce
the local bureaucracy. The province of Zakarpattia in
the southwest has given rise to a quarrel with Hungary,
as ethnic Hungarians are in the majority in part of the
area. Hungary has raised the issue of their position,
inter alia by conditional on EU and NATO cooperation
with Ukraine. According to the proposal, Berehove, in
Hungarian Beregszász, will constitute its own district,
which would allow some kind of autonomy for the local
Hungarians. The proposal may face opposition from
The Crimean peninsula was populated by Muslim Tatars
from the 13th century and ended up under Russian rule in
1783. After the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922,
Crimea was part of the Russian Soviet Republic until
1954 when the peninsula was transferred to the Soviet
Republic of Ukraine. After the dissolution of the Soviet
Union in 1991, Crimea remained part of Ukraine.
In the years before independence, Crimean Tatars had
begun to return home from Central Asia where they were
forced into exile during World War II by the then Soviet
leader Josef Stalin, who accused them of cooperating
with the Nazis. The return of the Crimean Tatars led to
contradictions with the rest of the population of
Crimea, which mainly consisted of Russians.
Following the dramatic shift in power in Ukraine in
early 2014, when the Russian-friendly President Viktor
Yanukovych was deposed in a popular uprising, Russia
took military control of Crimea. In March 2014, after an
illegal referendum on the peninsula, Crimea was annexed
by Russia (read more in Current Politics and Calendar,
The Ukrainian party landscape is not so much
characterized by ideology and programs, but more by
strong leadership personalities as well as regional and
business special interests. Common to most leading
parties today is a strong focus on bringing Ukraine
closer to the EU and the Western world.
Parliamentary elections were held in October 2014,
nine months after the referendum that led to the
resignation of President Yanukovych and four months
after Petro Poroshenko was elected as his successor.
By far the biggest was Petro Poroshenko's
Blok (Blok Petra Poroshenko), which was later nicknamed
Solidarity (Solidarnist). The party had
existed since 2000 and formed part of various alliances
with liberal and EU-friendly profiles. Poroshenko's
block went to election in collaboration with the
Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (Ukrajinskyj
Democratnyjnyj aljans za reformy, Udar
; freely translated roughly "Smock"), started by former
boxing world champion Vitalij Klychko. In August 2015,
Udar was formally in Poroshenko's block and Klytjko was
elected party leader.
The second largest in the 2014 election was the
conservative, EU-friendly People's Front
(Narodnyj Front), founded by then-Prime Minister Arsenij
Jatsenjuk and Acting President Oleksandr Turtjynov
shortly after the revolution. Many of the members,
including the two founders, had previously belonged to
the Fatherland (Batkivshchyna) led by
former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Petro Poroshenko's block and the People's Front
formed a stable government on paper where several
party-bound subject experts also received ministerial
posts. The coalition burst in conjunction with the new
President Volodymyr Zelenskyj's entry in May 2019.
Elected to Parliament after passing
femprocentsspärren also became the new Christian
Democratic and pro-Western party Self-reliance
(Samopomitj), formed in 2012 by the city of Lviv Mayor
Andriy Sadovyj, the Eurosceptic opposition bloc
(Oppozytsijnyj Blok), right-wing populist Oleh
Ljasjkos Radical Party (Radykalna partija Oleha
Lezhka) and Julia Tymoshenko's former ruling party of
The far-right Freedom Party
(Svoboda), which had great successes in the 2012
election, missed the lock for the party lists in 2014
but got six members through direct elections. In
contrast, the Communist Party was
knocked out of Parliament. The previously ruling
Party of Regions boycotted the election, but
some of its representatives had switched to the
A total of 30 national parties voted in the 2014
elections. More than half got less than one percent of
the vote, but a few of them managed to get a
representative in Parliament through direct elections.
In addition, almost 100 partisan candidates were
The election year 2019 saw several changes. The most
The new President Volodymyr Zelenskyj formed a party
called the People's Servant (Sluha
Narodu) as the TV series that made him famous. The party
was registered as late as the presidential election on
March 31, 2019. It then quickly took the lead in opinion
polls ahead of the next parliamentary election, and won
After the loss in the presidential election,
Poroshenko's party changed its name to European
solidarity, but the party shrank considerably.
Disagreement within the Opposition Bloc led to a new
formation aimed at the 2019 elections, the Prorussian
Opposition Platform - For Life
(Opozitsijna Platforma - Za Zjyttja). The party became
second largest in the parliamentary elections.
New fragile government cooperation
Tymoshenko succeeds in crafting a new government coalition with supporters of
Yushchenko and representatives of the Lytvyn Bloc.
The government is cracking down
Our Ukraine jumps out of government cooperation.
Tymoshenko back in power
Julia Tymoshenko forms a new government together with Our Ukraine.
New choice with unclear result
New elections are held. The region's party will be the largest with 34.4
percent of the vote, Julia Tymoshenko's block will get 30.7 percent and
President Yushchenko's Our Ukraine 14.2 percent. Two more parties will be seated
in Parliament: the Communist Party, which receives 5.4 percent, and the
Volodymyr Lytvyn's newly formed party, the Lytvyn Bloc, which receives 3.9