“The local elections 2020: lessons for unity and resilience of the state”: the experts of the NISS participated in the open discussion on results of the local elections and their impact on unity and resilience of the state

On October 29, 2020 in the open discussion on results of the local elections and their impact on unity and resilience of the state, organized by the Dialogue for Peace and Safe Reintegration national platform, participated the head of the NISS Center for Society Studies Yulia Tyshchenko, the head of the Department for Development of Political System at the NISS Center for Society Studies Iryna Pavlenko, and Diana Barynova, the NISS expert on decentralization and local development (Kharkiv).

During the debate the following questions were discussed:

  1. What were the main trends and challenges of the election campaign 2020 considering social solidarity, social resilience and national unity?

  2. Informational causes and messages of the electoral campaign: were they aimed at the strengthening of national unity of the state, social solidarity, as well as balanced and inclusive local development?

  3. What was the role of key actors of the electoral campaign (parties, business-groups, parliamentary factions, regional parties etc.) with regard to promotion of the issues of social solidarity during the electoral campaign 2020?

  4. What key lessons can be learned for the future from the current electoral races?

  5. How would the election results affect the reintegration, national unity, resilience and sustainable development of the state?

  6. What should be done by central and local political authorities for strengthening of national unity and social solidarity?

Ms. Tyshchenko in her statement analyzed new conditions in which the electoral campaign 2020 took place – these were the new electoral legislation, changes in the administrative and territorial structure, and the impact of the decentralization reform. The expert assessed the risks of partisation of amalgamated territorial communities (ATC), where the prior elections were maintained according to the majoritarian system. These were the questions of unreadiness of the parties for the activities in suchlike ATC, and possibility of increasing influence on the processes in ATC on the part of the regional centers that sometimes do not take into consideration the needs of the local communities. One of the causes of “intense” partisation is the possibility of shifting the focus by the representatives of local self-government bodies from the issues of local development to the solely political (and controversial) issues of historical commemoration and language policy.

Mrs. Pavlenko in her statement pointed out, inter alia, that the almost ubiquitous introduction of the proportional electoral system in fact contributes to supplantation of small political parties out of the political field, and advantages concentration of votes around the big party projects. In spite of the currently prevailing opinion that the regional parties had won this year’s electoral races, comparative analysis along with results of the previous electoral campaigns to the local legislative bodies shows that in general, the part of representation of the parliamentary parties in the local councils of deputies didn’t decrease around the country. In spite of several exceptions (for example, in Kharkiv) the number of regional parties that gained representation, in general, has been declining around the country. Instead one of the innovations of the elections-2020 was strengthening of the role of several extra-parliamentary parties that gained quite good representation in many regions of Ukraine. Some of these party projects have a good prospect to get to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, thus creating more positive practice of renewal of the country’s political elite.

Diana Barynova told about peculiarities of the electoral campaign in Kharkiv region and pointed out, inter alia, increasing number of women (from 1 to 7) who were elected as the heads of ATC. She also told about the necessary means for implementation of “safe decentralization”.

Photo: freepik.com

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