2013 01/10

Mikhail Pastukhou is a Doctor of Law, Professor, judge of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Belarus in the past. We are talking to him within the project “European Dialogue for modernization of Belarus” about what constitutional reform our country needs.

– Does the current constitutional system of Belarus, its political system correspond the latest international standards of democracy and separation of powers?

– In my opinion, the current Belarusian model of government does not fit neither into the world nor into the European standards. This is not a republic and not a monarchy. It’s an unusual symbiosis of government. It is not compatible with democracy, because presidential elections are more like a prepared performance with a known ending. And it is far from democracy, as the head of state has lost connection with the people long ago and does not represent their interests. The current government has abolished the separation of powers and united in one person.

Thus, the present constitutional arrangement does not meet the requirements of a democratic state of law. Meanwhile, the issues related to the legitimacy of the supreme power are left aside.

– However, the ideologues of power in response to critics may say that the Belarusian authoritarian system, despite the fact that it is a rather unique and there is nothing like this anywhere else in Europe, operates quite effectively and solves the problems the country faces. And why would they change anything?

– Yes, we can partly agree with it. The authoritarian system of government always acts tough and at some point in history has the situation under its control and successfully solves problems. Another thing is what means it uses to achieve its goals. In general it is coercion, intimidation and punishment. Sooner or later the administrative resources get exhausted, there comes stagnation and then – the degradation and, finally, a change to more democratic and effective forms of management.

It seems to me that today’s Belarus is the Soviet Union in miniature with the same work planning for the sake of some indicators, with payment leveling, benefits for some “chosen” people. It is a fragment of socialism, which still shows signs of life.

– What main constitutional areas are most appropriate for reforming, in your opinion? What do we need to change in the separation of powers, which system of control and balance is to be set?

– The main focus in the area of constitutional reforms is, in my view, is the transition from one-man rule to a parliamentary form of government. That means that the country has to be managed by more than one person, by many people who have the confidence of the people. The best form of democracy was and remains are the parliament. It is the main body in any democratic state. If the deputies consider it necessary, they can elect a president (either by themselves or through the general elections). But they can request the chairperson of Parliament to perform the basic functions of a head of the state (for example, to sign laws, reward heroes and receive representatives of foreign states). In that case, if the Parliament would take the highest place in the hierarchy of power, it would automatically restore the principles of democracy, rule of law and legal state. And “control” and “balance” would work as a clock, without fail.

– There are often disputes among democratic politicians and lawyers over the way which we need to change the Belarusian constitutional system. Just to go back to the Constitution of 1994? But is it possible and does it make any sense? Everything is relative, but that version of the Constitution was not perfect as well, and the opposition was criticizing it severely in 1994.

– I am convinced that in order to restore the rule of law in the country we should restore the Constitution of 1994. This is the cornerstone of our future state and legal development. The Constitution of 1994 is a legitimate constitution, despite all its flaws. It can be the foundation for further constitutional changes.

If people would want, it could abolish the presidency. There can be a “manual” president, elected by the parliament. One can change the order of formation of the government (from party factions in the parliament), to ensure the independence of courts and judges. You can conduct administrative and territorial reforms with a new district division. It will be possible to resume the local self-government.

Many things can be changed for the better in domestic and foreign policy. The only question is how to open a new page in Belarusian history and say goodbye to outdated Soviet past .

According to Vital Asipovich, www.sn-plus.com,
Prepared by Ales LETA
Belarusian Legal Portal

One thought on “Mikhail Pastukhou: “The BEST form of democracy has always been and still remains the PARLIAMENT””

  1. Ales` says:

    I agree … A return to the Constitution of Belarus in 1994 – the first necessary step for further legal and democratic transformations …

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