Democratic Consolidation in Eastern Europe - Vol. 1

By Jan Zielonka | Go to book overview

9 Ukraine: Tormented Constitution-Making

Kataryna Wolczuk

In stable regimes, the institutional structure mediates actors' behaviour and determines policy outcomes in terms of who gets 'what, when, and how'. The collapse of communism reversed that relationship, and the primary role was assigned to elites, who reshuffled institutions and reassigned powers and responsibilities (something German constitutionalists refer to as Kompetenzkompetenz). As new constitutional frameworks are built, the distinction between the tools and outcomes of politics became blurred and confused. Because of the breakdown of the established pattern of politics, the post-communist world of politics can be best characterized as punctuated equilibrium. 1 To restore equilibrium, various paths have been pursued: a rapid revamp as in Bulgaria, or learning by trial and error as in Poland. However, constitution-making in Ukraine can be best conceptualized in terms of a Gramscian catastrophic equilibrium: a situation that arises when the old system has passed into posterity but the new one has yet to emerge. Ukraine's improvised and disrupted constitution-making left it suspended between the past and the future.

The first couple of years of independence was a period of institutional preservation rather than institutional engineering, and the delay was not spent deliberating the merits and perils of institutional templates. 2 Then, when constitution-making finally got under

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