News Politics Society, 03/11/2017

Newly Amalgamated Communities Elect their Heads

Last Sunday, October 29, elections in seven newly formed amalgamated territorial communities in the Kharkiv region were held for the first time.

Residents of more than 200 villages and towns voted for their newly formed councils’ heads and deputies. Representatives of 10 political parties and self-nominations took part in the elections. Totally 603 candidates competed for 172 deputy mandates.

The major result reported on Monday, October 30, showed the undoubted victory of the party of power – Petro Poroshenko Bloc Solidarity (Blok Petra Poroshenka Solidarnist) in the Kharkiv region. Representatives of the presidential party got the majority in all the seven amalgamated communities and headed them as well. Three representatives of Samopomich, 11 members of Batkivshchina also won together with few self-nominations and parties successors of infamous Party of Regions.

The Kharkiv branch of Petro Poroshenko Block stated that the party dominance demonstrated that the president enjoys support in the region, while some experts noted that the party had used the administrative resource.

Although no obvious violations were fixed during the elections, Samopomich party observers point out at some manipulations, “unconventional usage of the state employees resource” and “unusual gifts” to the voters in the form of manure. Voters mostly supported the candidates they know well – school principals, teachers, local authorities. And those candidates went to the elections from the presidential party.

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“The system of using the employees dependent on the state together with the bureaucracy of local self-government has again proved its stability,” says Anton Avksentiev, a political scientist of Observatory of Democracy Center.

“The elections were to demonstrate the advantages of decentralization as the villages were given the opportunity to become non-dependent of the central budget and the regional authorities. However, the results showed that the administrative resource in the elections is rather powerful, and the local communities are still very dependent on the presidential vertical,” say political scientists.

Text: Olena Sokolynska

Photo: Kharkiv Today, Observatory of Democracy Center