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Jenny Cohen
School of Public and Environmental Affairs
jercohen@indiana.edu
812-855-6802

Jenny Montgomery
School of Public and Environmental Affairs
PDP@indiana.edu
812-855-9744

Last modified: Thursday, December 22, 2005

Ukraine's shift in power is watched closely -- in Indiana

IU program helped create new Ukrainian government laws

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dec. 23, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- On Jan. 1, the staff at the Parliamentary Development Program at Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs will be watching Ukraine closely. They'll be hoping the country undergoes a smooth transition to new government laws that they helped to create.

Charles Wise is the director of the Parliamentary Development Program at IU's School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Print-Quality Photo

January will be a pivotal month for Ukraine's future democratization. Constitutional changes made at the culmination of 2004's Orange Revolution will go into effect, transferring substantial powers now held by the president to the parliament. IU Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs Charles Wise, who heads the Parliamentary Development Program, has worked with the Ukrainian Parliament for over 10 years and helped develop language for the new constitutional changes.

"The parties in parliament will be called upon to form a true governing coalition, which they have never had to do before," said Wise. "Their success or failure will determine the direction of representative democracy in Ukraine for some time to come."

Wise hopes that these changes will add checks and balances to federal power that is still fraught with corruption and instability. A year after the climactic Orange Revolution, critics claim that President Victor Yushchenko has not delivered on many of his campaign promises. They also cite daily reports of political scandals. This constitutional shift in power could be just what the president needs to legitimize his government.

"The new constitutional arrangement in Ukraine will require that the parties in parliament form a governing majority that will name the prime minister and cabinet, and put forth a government program for governing the country. The Parliamentary Development Project is assisting the factions, committees and parliamentary leadership prepare for these new roles," said Wise.

Ukrainians will go to the polls in March to elect new parliamentarians. Some experts claim that these elections will be more important than the December 2004 presidential election.

"Given the constitutional changes made by the parliament during the Orange Revolution with considerable power shifting to the parliament, the March elections will be crucial in determining which course Ukraine will follow," Wise said. "Further reform toward a competitive economy would integrate Ukraine with the West, or a reversion to state control of the economy would tighten the country's affiliation with Russia."

The Parliamentary Development Project has worked since 1994 to strengthen the parliament as a transparent, effective, democratic institution through improved legislative-executive relations and increased citizen involvement. PDP facilitates parliamentary access advocacy training, provides technical assistance to parliamentarians and their staff, conducts comparative research on policy issues, awards grants to citizen coalitions and encourages highly motivated young professionals to become involved with the legislature through its Parliamentary Internship Program. For more information, please visit http://www.iupdp.org.

The IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs, located on eight campuses, is committed to teaching, research and service in areas such as public and nonprofit management, public policy, environmental science, criminal justice, arts administration and health administration. The school maintains continuing relationships with a large number of public agencies at all levels of government; public and private hospitals and health organizations; and nonprofit organizations and corporations in the private sector. SPEA has earned national distinction for innovative educational programs that combine administrative, social, economic, financial and environmental disciplines.