A presidential election in Ukraine will have to wait until the war is over, according to the nation’s constitution.
“If we have martial law, we cannot have elections. The constitution prohibits any elections during martial law. If there is no martial law, then there will be,” said Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in a interview with the Washington Post.
The question came up because it has become obvious that any peace talks for Ukraine and Russia are still months away. Officially, Zelenksy’s current five-year term of office ends in March 2024. But with months to go before any potential peace, a 90-day waiting period after the end of martial law before an election, and the time it takes to hold and ratify an election, it would take exceptional circumstances for a vote to be held by then.
Critics are jumping on this announcement to compare Zelensky to Putin, who has lead Russia for decades through rigged elections and fiat, but it’s plain to anyone who can read that Zelensky is only following the law of his country. The actor-turned-President would be guilty of much more overreach if he opted to ignore Ukraine’s constitution and destabilize his country during a time of war with a presidential election just to prove what is true – that Ukraine remains a democracy.
Wednesday was Constitution Day in Ukraine, and Zelensky addressed the nation and the government. He called for national discussion of a plan for Ukraine, one which includes plans for the future, a specific goal of the war, and intentions for how Ukraine intends to interact with the world on its own.
“For this to become a reality, we only need one thing – that all our partners in the Alliance stop looking back at the Kremlin when making their important decisions. Even the internal forces of Russia itself have stopped looking back at the frail owner of the Kremlin,” Zelensky said.