Ukraine: Lawmakers fail to pass decentralization legislation

Alyona Zhuk, Kyiv Post (December 6, 2016)

Ukrainian women embroider a map of Ukraine with the different flags of the regions in the country during a pro-Ukranian meeting in the southern coastal town of Mariupol September 13, 2014. VASILY FEDOSENKO/REUTERS

Ukraine’s parliament rejected an important bill on government decentralization on Dec. 6, and reform-minded lawmakers then had to scramble to remove another bill on the issue from the agenda to stop it being rejected too.

The laws, passed at first reading in September, had been intended to help towns and villages set up more than 100 so-called amalgamated communities for self-administration by the end of the year.

But when it came to the vote in parliament, only 168 lawmakers voted in favor of the first law, No. 4676 – a number well short of the 226 votes needed for regular legislation to pass.

Verkhovna Rada Chairman Andriy Parubiy called three votes to return the bill to the agenda for a repeat vote, but each of his attempts failed.

“What a present we have given to local communities on the eve of Local Government Day,” Parubiy said sarcastically after the failed votes.

If approved, the bill would have allowed towns and villages located in the same oblast, but in different districts, to form amalgamated communities, Vadym Miskyi, the head of the advocacy department at Reanimation Package of Reforms (RPR), a civil activism group, told the Kyiv Post.

He said Ukraine’s Central Election Committee has refused to allow 28 newly amalgamated communities to hold local elections, even though they have undergone all of the required procedures to form.

“Pomichna in Kirovohrad Oblast is a vivid example,” Miskyi said. “The town of Pomichna wants to form an amalgamated community with the village of Pomichna, to unite in a single community. But the Central Election Committee refused to allow the town of Pomichna, and 24 other communities, to hold the local elections, because parts of these communities are in different districts.”

As the bill failed at second reading, the document is now considered withdrawn. However, Miskyi says experts may draw up fresh legislation, as the problem hasn’t gone away.

Activists are frustrated at the politicians’ inability to back in parliament reforms that they say they support in public.


Read the article on  Kyiv Post