News Politics, 04/05/2018

Power of Convention Revealed by New Local Elections

April 29, the first elections of heads and deputies to represent four newly formed amalgamated communities of the Kharkiv region were held.

They were conducted in Velykyi Burluk, Starovirivka, Pisochyn and Tsyrkuny.

As a result, all the candidates, nominated by the presidential party, Petro Poroshenko Bloc “Solidarity,” won the inaugural elections for the heads of the amalgamated communities. Also, 26 deputies were elected in these communities, except Starovirivka with 22 council members. Most of them are the members of the ruling party.

Although some of Poroshenko Bloc’s observers state that the elections showed that “the people trust the presidential representatives, who are efficient,” the political analysts point out at several important findings revealed in the voting.

“These results clearly show that administrative resource still works in Ukraine,” says Julia Bidenko, Ph.D. in Political Science, Associate Professor. “We can also see that the still ongoing decentralization reform was changed as a concept just to achieve such results everywhere and to strengthen presidential power all over Ukraine.”

Bidenko explains that the initial concept of decentralization is supposed to eliminate state administrations.  However, they still have overriding power to manage financial, natural and social resources on the regional and subregional level, instead of transferring these functions to newly formed amalgamated communities.

“Taking into account that the president is still responsible for appointing Heads of State Administrations, his party’s victory almost all over Ukraine regardless cultural, lingual or industrial distinctions between the regions looks as a quite predictable one,” she added.

The political analyst specifies that decentralization process is still in progress and the current situation indicates – while state administrations exist or unless their power is limited, local policy in rural areas will be executed in favor of acting presidential party whether it’s controlled by Kuchma, Yanukovich or Poroshenko.

However, the situation is different in the cities, where elected city councils have executive bodies and administer all the property and resources. In the cities, we have the variety of political parties, local agenda and different combinations of parties in councils from Lviv to Kharkiv.

Text: Olena Sokolynska

Photo: Artem Fysun