Ukraine’s newly elected President Volodymyr Zelensky took an oath and assumed his office on May 20, 2019.
Traditionally, Ukrainians are looking forward for the day of inauguration, as the head of the state is still associated with absolute power, as if the President can change everything or almost everything in every sphere of life. It is the President whom the people impose the prime responsibility on, including the responsibility for the failures of the authorities.
Let’s check Ukrainian Constitution for the powers and authorities of the head of the state. Is he so mighty as the people expect him to?
Who is the President of Ukraine?
The President of Ukraine is the head of the state and acts on behalf of the state.
He is considered a guarantor of national sovereignty, Ukraine’s territorial integrity, maintaining country’s constitution, human and citizen rights and freedoms.
The President is also a guarantor of the implementation of country’s strategic course on NATO and EU membership.
The symbols of the President are:
- the Standard of the President of Ukraine;
- the Seal of the President of Ukraine;
- The Collar of the President of Ukraine;
- the Bulawa of the President of Ukraine.
Traditionally the head of the state, elected on the basis of the whole-nation, equal and direct electoral law by secret ballot, gets the presidential symbols after taking oath to the people of Ukraine at the ceremonial meeting of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
The President of Ukraine is elected for a five-year term of office, limited to two terms consecutively.
The President is not allowed to:
- have another representative mandate;
- hold offices in another state government bodies or citizen groups;
- engage in gainful or entrepreneur activity or to be a member of management or supervisory board which aims at gaining of profit.
The regular presidential elections shall be held on the last Sunday of Match of the fifth year of his term in office. If the President's authority has ended pre-term, then the elections must be held within 90 days of the incumbent President's end of term.
What rights has the President of Ukraine?
While in office, the president enjoys the right of immunity, together with the general rights of the citizens.
Those responsible for the infringement on honor and dignity of the head of the state shall be held liable according to the law.
What are the duties of the President of Ukraine?
The list of the president’s duties is quite extensive, but not endless. Some functions may be performed individually, others – in cooperation with the parliament or the government. Namely, the head of the state:
- represents the country in international relations, performs foreign policy management, held negotiations and conducts international agreements of Ukraine;
- takes decisions on recognizing foreign states;
- appoints and dismisses the heads of the diplomatic missions of Ukrainian representatives in other countries and in other international organizations;
- accepts the letter of credence and recall from the representatives of foreign countries;
- assigns nationwide referendum on changes in Ukrainian Constitution according to article 156 of the Constitution or announces the All-Ukrainian referendum on popular initiative;
- appoints snap elections to the Verkhovna Rada within the time limit set by the Constitution, terminates powers and authorities of the Verkhovna Rada in cases set by the Constitution;
- on the proposal of the coalition of parliamentary factions in the Verkhovna Rada, the President files an application to appoint a Prime Minister by the parliament no later than on the fifteenth day after receiving such a proposal;
- files an application to the Verkhovna Rada on the appointment of the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs;
- appoints and fires the Prosecutor General by agreement of the Parliament;
- appoints and dismisses half of the staff of the Board of the National Bank;
- appoints and dismisses half of the staff of the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council;
- files to the parliament an application to appoint or to fire the Head of the Security Service;
- suspends regulations of the government on the grounds of unconstitutionality, simultaneously bringing the matter before the Constitutional court regarding the unconstitutionality;
- cancels the regulatory acts of the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea;
- appoints and dismisses the highest command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, other military units;
- carries out management in the spheres of the country’s security and defense;
- chairs the National Security and Defence Council;
- files to the parliament an application on declaring the state of war and in case of armed aggression against Ukraine takes decision on engaging the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other armed groups formed in accordance with Ukrainian laws;
- in accordance with the law adopts full or partial mobilization and martial law in Ukraine or in certain localities in the event of a danger of attack or threat to the state independence;
- if necessary, adopts a decision on introduction of a state of emergency in Ukraine or in some of its localities, and also announces, if necessary, certain areas as zones of an emergency ecological situation - with the approval of these decisions by the Parliament;
- appoints one-third of the Constitutional Court;
- confers high military ranks, high diplomatic ranks and other high special ranks and class ranks;
- awards with state awards;
- establishes presidential decorations and rewards them;
- decides on granting citizenship of Ukraine and termination of such citizenship, on the provision of shelter in Ukraine;
- grants pardons;
- within the state budget creates advisory, advisory and other subsidiary bodies and services;
- signs laws passed by the Verkhovna Rada;
- has the right to veto the laws adopted by the parliament (except for the laws on amending the Constitution of Ukraine) and return them for reconsideration.
At that, it is important that the President of Ukraine can’t delegate his authority to other persons or bodies.
What duties Ukraine’s President has?
The President of Ukraine as a Head of the state and the chief commander has to ensure the country’s independence, national security and the legal succession.
Apart from that, he has to send messages to the people and an extraordinary message to the Verkhovna Rada on the internal situation in Ukraine.
The President has to fulfill his duties until the next newly elected president steps in.
His powers may be terminated early only on case of:
- loss of the ability to discharge his obligations for health reasons;
- removal from office by impeachment;
In these cases, the authorities of the head of state are assigned to the Head of the Parliament until the next president is elected and enters the office.