Decentralization becomes feudalization in Ukraine

Author : Mykhailo Pozhyvanov

Source : 112 Ukraine

Speaking about the elections to the united territorial communities, it seems that the number of communities, the frequency of elections, and the date of their appointment are chosen absolutely spontaneously
09:59, 3 May 2018

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Elections to the united territorial communities (UTC) took place on the past Sunday. It is good that Ukraine has launched decentralization, but it is implemented in a quite wrong way. First of all, the unevenness of the process comes to mind here. It seems that the number of communities, the frequency of elections and the date of their appointment are chosen absolutely spontaneously. But in fact, elections take place primarily where loyal local authorities undertake to ensure votes for the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko.

Related: Elections to Ukraine's united territorial communities: Rehearsal before real battale

As you might know, the application for the creation of a unified territorial community goes to the regional state administration, and the appointment of the election date is within the competence of the CEC. At the same time, the Central Election Commission, and the regional state administrations with their governors are basically under the harsh influence of President’s Administration. That is why it is not known for certain how many applications for UTC are waiting for their approval so far. "Wikipedia", containing a separate article devoted to this topic, cannot be considered a reliable source. And there is no state resource, where you could draw such information online. The special site on decentralization captures those communities, which are already created, but it does not reflect the process of their formation.

Meanwhile, there are acute questions connected, for example, with why Kyiv region has the smallest number of the UTCs (only nine, with elections held only in seven communities), and why territorial election communities in Bucha and Irpin have not yet been established? Who and why is blocking the process? Vice Prime Minister Zubko focuses only on the achievements. As of the beginning of 2018, 698 UTCs were created in Ukraine, which (according to Zubko's estimates) cover 29% of Ukraine's population. But the official does not say anything about what remains behind the scenes. According to my own information, at least a couple of hundred applications for community building and elections are "frozen".

Related: Elections in 40 joint territorial communities first-ever in Ukraine

And their future depends on the political conjuncture. Parliamentary elections will be held in a year and a half, and a year later, presidential elections would come. No one has any intention to demonstrate the electoral failure to the society. It is also enough that, according to the latest polls, Petro Poroshenko has dropped to the 6th place in the presidential rating, while Tymoshenko, Hrytsenko, Boyko, and even Vakarchuk with Zelensky are ahead of him. Showing failure in local elections is also unacceptable for the authorities. That is why in the evening of April 29, Poroshenko’s Bloc reported about triumph in the UTCs - that is, where the Fatherland Party and the Agrarian Party traditionally share the victory.

However, it is not about counting votes. I mean, local elections should not have raised such an agiotage in a comfortable and rationally arranged state. For the special profit is not mentioned here, as well as about fame or earning big bonuses. Work on the ground is a daily hard work to solve a significant number of small problems.

Related: G7 countries to support Ukraine during elections amid Russian aggression, - Freeland

Decentralization in Ukraine turns into feudalization. This fact is laid down by the principles on which this very decentralization occurs. The fact is that the lawmakers have "untied" the so-called decentralization from changes in the Constitution. That is, ideally these two processes should go in parallel, but in practice, the creation of united territorial communities has overtaken the redrafting of the Basic Law. The proposed possibility of uniting not only villages but also towns and cities into territorial communities does not conform to the first part of Article 140 of the Constitution of Ukraine, according to which a territorial society can only be a "voluntary association of several villages in the rural community", which should have the status of an administrative- territorial unit.

The whole point here is that the structure of territorial communities corresponds to the system of administrative and territorial organization, and not vice versa. A correction of the situation could be the adoption of a law on the administrative and territorial structure, which has not been done so far since 1996. The law has not been adopted, nor has the Constitution been amended. A separate novelty is an existence alongside with new elective bodies of "old" district administrations, which can clinch with "new" communities. The struggle for power promises to be harsh, and the legislators did not take care to level this opportunity.

Related: Revival party starts preparing to presidential elections

Actually, after the elections to almost seven hundred communities, we can say that the bureaucracy has not decreased, but on the contrary - it has only grown. In Ukraine, the percentage of civil servants compared to those citizens who produce a specific product or service that is subject to taxation and serves to fill the state treasury is too large. Instead of creating new jobs, they artificially inflated an already large number of officials who receive salaries from the state budget.

By facilitating the organization of communities, such a contingent cares exclusively about expanding its own influence. Already having control over district councils or district state administration, certain politicians or political forces acquire also a lever of influence in the form of a united territorial community. The example of decentralization shows a tangible substitution of concepts. In fact, Sunday local elections, with their traditional bribery of the electorate and unprofessionalism of the election commissions, were a great rehearsal of those elections of 2019.

Related: Ukraine’s 2019 elections: Political bidding underway

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 112.International and its owners.

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