The President of Ukraine is elected by the country's citizens to serve as their head of state. The terms are 5 years each and presidents are limited to 2 consecutive terms. The current office of the presidency was established in 1991, the year of Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union. Since then, 5 people have held the position. Some of the most notable of these presidents are discussed below.
The first president of independent Ukraine was Leonid Kravchuk. He took the position December of 1991 after having served as the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) while a member of the Communist Party. Conflict between the President and the Prime Minister led to the resignation of Kravchuk in July of 1994.
Leonid Kuchma went on to become the President after the first President resigned and the public held an early election. To present date, Kuchma has been the longest serving President, serving 2 terms between 1994 and 2005. His first term was also marked by corruption and a failing economy. In response to the struggling economy, he reduced government subsidies, privatized publicly owned industry and agriculture, lowered taxes, and reformed banking regulations. It was not until 2000, however, that the economy began to improve. He is credited with improving relations with Russia during his presidency.
The current President of Ukraine is Petro Poroshenko, who was elected in May of 2014. He took office in June of the same year and since then he has launched a peace plan for Eastern Ukraine, an area of the country that seeks autonomy under a pro-Russian movement. He is also responsible for amending the Constitution by proposing changed administrative divisions to include regions, districts, and communities. This amendment also decentralized government powers and gave local governments the right to create their own spending budgets based on their tax revenues.
The President of Ukraine, in contrast to those in other semi-presidential systems of government, does not work under the umbrella of the executive branch. The Prime Minister is the head of the executive branch of government, instead. The President represents the country and its people. One of the principal obligations of the Ukrainian President is to ensure that executive, judicial, and legislative acts do not run counter to Constitutional powers. The President nominates the Prime Minister, signs bills into law (or vetoes them), and may create governmental departments for consultative and advisory purposes.