Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal does not rule out that local elections might not take place this year. The alleged cause is the coronavirus epidemic. Although, according to Shmygal, his team is turned for the elections.
“...So far, speaking about the funds for the elections. We plan to hold these elections. The world lives in conditions of uncertainty, connected with the corona-crisis. If Ukraine has some reasons for the introduction of a total quarantine restriction, then, probably, we will be forced to postpone these elections. But so far, we hope that we will manage the adaptive mechanisms of this disease quite effectively, and this will give us the opportunity to hold these elections in October,” said the head of government.
Shmygal is a little disingenuous, says political analyst Kyrylo Sazonov. No, he’s just a little off-topic, head of the Third Sector Center Andriy Zolotariov opposes. It is not at all a matter of who is cunning and who is not, adds Bogdan Petrenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Study of Extremism. The point is the Constitution, which does not provide for such games with dates, he says.
And yet, what about the situation when the number of patients in Ukraine supposedly increases daily? We say "supposedly" because the situation with our statistics is a separate topic for discussion.
Constitution and coronavirus
According to Article 141 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the next elections of the village, town, city, district, regional councils, village, town, city mayors are held on the last Sunday of October of the fifth year of the powers of the respective council or the corresponding chairman, elected at the next elections. Thus, the next local elections should be held on October 25, 2020.
Moreover, it is impossible to legally change something in it. In order to postpone local elections, you need to have very good reasons. “With a probability of about 98%, I can testify that no one can stand the local elections because there is a Constitution and it does not spell any force majeure and the like. Therefore, it is likely that the elections will be held when they were planned,” Bogdan Petrenko assures.
“For what reasons, the elections might be canceled? The first reason is the intensification of military aggression against Ukraine, the second is the coronavirus. But both the intensification of aggression and the epidemic are unlikely until October of this year,” he adds.
According to the Ministry of Health, the number of patients is growing steadily every day. The increase in infections concerns 21 out of 24 Ukrainian regions. But, as our experts rightly point out, everything depends on who and how keeps these statistics and on what it is based.
“Hypothetically, the possibility of canceling or postponing elections cannot be ruled out. But the situation with the pandemic in Ukraine is being manipulated. In particular, on the part of the authorities,” commented the political expert Yevgeny Bulavka. “Because the number of patients we have is correlated with the number of tests performed, that is, the more tests, the more patients, although the percentage of the latter remains the same. Another thing is if the authorities have political motives if the elections are not electrically beneficial. Then the threat to people's health can be used as an excuse.”
But what kind of electoral difficulties are we talking about? The answer to this is also obvious and lies on the surface.
Sociology would help
According to the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, the rating of the Servant of the People party in early June compared to April slipped by 4.6%. This is among those respondents who have made their choice. Because if in April 32.6% of respondents were ready to vote for Servant of the People, now only 28% would support it. In July 2019, this political force was supported by 43.16% of voters, which made it possible for the president’s political force to set a record and hold the largest number of deputies from one faction in parliament - 254.
“The Servant of the People will not show such a result as in the parliamentary elections,” says Yevgeny Bulavka. “In addition, it’s not just about the party. It’s also about community leaders, mayors who are quite serious And here the Servant of the People also does not have bright prospects because relations with the local authorities promise only to worsen over time.”
“Postponement of the elections will not benefit the rating of the authorities. If the president’s rating is still high, the party cannot boast of such a result,” Sazonov assures.
“Every day that moves us away from the elections, the Servant of the People rating will decrease,” Bogdan Petrenko notes. “In addition, autumn means the beginning of utility bills for heating, for which Ukrainians will designate responsibility for the president. And therefore in February 2021, the president’s rating will be less than he could have been in October 2020.”
Andriy Zolotariov states: “Given the prospect of a difficult economic situation in the fall, it is better to hold elections on time. In spring, the situation for the Servant of the People would not get better.”
Preparation in full swing
President’s Office does not seriously discuss the postponement of the elections. Sazonov insists on his version: “Postponement of elections is possible in an extraordinary situation, be it a pandemic, aggravation at the front, an attack by aliens or something else. Politicians are actively discussing this, but the impression is that they cast this version solely as a test case "Because both the President’s Office and the faction are preparing very actively by October 25. Party organizations are being built from the wheels, castings are being held, people are being invited. If someone was going to postpone the election, there would be no such preparation, but it’s rather exhausting.”
Preparation is in the full swing. A few days ago, Servant of the People decided on its candidates for the heads of cells in the Zakarpattia region and Kyiv. These are MPs Ihor Kryvosheyev and Mykola Tyshchenko. Kyiv regional party organization of was headed by MP Oleksandr Dubinsky.
However, the key to successful local elections will not be the arrangement of certain personalities. The main thing is that the top decisions made by the central government do not include frankly failed initiatives that could destroy its popularity.
Now the “Servant of the people” - even despite the obvious drop in support - remains the first among other participants in the elections, Zolotariov says. “If it’s smart enough not to increase tariffs and taxation, then the rating will remain at about the current level,” he says.
Yevgeny Bulavka draws attention to yet another conflict – enlargement of areas undertaken by the government. The enlargement will be quite radical: they plan to leave only 129 out of 490 districts. Prime Minister Shmygal explains this plan by overcoming the remnants of the Soviet Union that did not carry anything constructive.
“The current reformatting of the districts will definitely not add the votes to the Servant of the People. When in the Kyiv region, some Gerrymandering takes place, this causes very strong indignation among the people. The situation with the enlargement of districts is the same,” Bulavka notes.
In Ukraine, not only administrative-territorial reform has not been completed. Decentralization reform has not been completed either. Furthermore, the authorities are now trying to revise it, just like the healthcare reform of Uliana Suprun or the practice of Independent Testing in high school. More specifically, the fact that the already created united territorial communities, by order of the Cabinet, begin to dissolve or reformat.
“Yes, we have areas that are completely blocked by territorial communities, and there are areas where they are not created, and this means a risk of chaos and disorder,” Zolotariov comments. But even the deficit of general relativity cannot be the motivation for postponing elections. After all, if this reason is voiced to the population, it will not be perceived correctly. Because the elections still need to be held, he is convinced.
Petrenko adds: “All the elections are held under conditions that later change. I am talking about territorial councils. For the most part, they have already been created, and as regards the regions, they are unlikely to be changed, and therefore all “the changes will fall to the districts. The enlargement is not excluded here, but speaking about the changes in administrative reform, they simply will not have time before the current election,” he says. That is, this is not a proper reason to delay the celebration of the popular will. Our reforms last for years, and if we focus only on them, voters will never come to the ballot boxes.
Therefore, the election would be held without any doubts. They promise to be an interesting arena where a duel will unfold between many ambitious players. Local and party elites will enter the ring to compete with each other and compete with the current government. For her, the autumn will be the fourth round of the presidential election. Fourth and last? It will show time.