Elections in the Amalgamated Territorial Communities and establishment of the local politics in Ukraine

Ms. Kateryna Pryshchepa
Dr. Paweł Kowal

The administrative reform in Ukraine introduced in 2015 included the creation of the so called amalgamated local communities. Influenced by the experience of the administrative reform in Poland which took place in 1990-s, the reform in Ukraine proposed joining or amalgamating the smaller communities - the basic administrative units in Ukraine - so they become more viable financially by joining the financial resources. In 4 cases in Ukraine the amalgamated territorial communities have covered the territory of the rayon entirely (rayons are the lowest level at which the state administrations operate).
The level of powers and competences of the amalgamated territorial communities made positions at this level more attractive for the local elites. The first elections of the authorities in the amalgamated communities started to take place in 2016 and demonstrated interest of both – state administration officials and local elites for the positions. By October 2017 elections have taken place in 47 communities. They have demonstrated cases of patronage networks use in the politics at the amalgamated communities level. Among elected heads of the amalgamated territorial communities there are cases of local state administration officials elected to the office as well as the local businessme, who used the methods of “undirect bribibg of the voters”. The third type of candidates winning the elections in the communities are the current heads of one of the villages or towns which became part of the newly established territorial communities. The number of people in the newly created communities varies from 4000 to more than 30000 people which creates environment for genuine political competition in a number of them. With the powers of the amalgamated communities the campaigns will be able to adopt the agenda which previously was employed by the candidates in the parliamentary single mandate district.
On October 27 2017 the heads of communities will be elected in the 252 amalgamated territorial communities. The proposed paper will analyze the election materials in selected numbers of amalgamated communities and compare the election slogans and the profile of the winning candidates with the campaigns' style and agenda of the SMD MPs as well as the campaig agendas of the winning candidates from Poland's local elections of 2014.

keywords: administrative reform, local elections, Ukraine, Poland