Why will there be no December elections in 36 hromadas?
Yevheniy Radchenko, deputy head of the Central Election Commission, told decentralisation.gov.ua about “matryoshka” cities, court decisions and demarcation line that make the electoral process impossible.
By Dmytro Synyak
Last Friday, the Central Election Commission unanimously decided to appoint the first elections in 125 amalgamated hromadas and additional elections in 26 amalgamated hromadas for Sunday, 23 December 2018. However, more appeals were received: Tetyana Slipachuk, head of the Central Election Commission, said that in general the Commission received 141 appeals for the appointment of the first elections and 49 appeals for the appointment of additional elections (since two appeals were duplicated, they addressed only 47 hromadas). But one way or another, it turned out that the Commission did not appoint the first elections in 16 hromadas, and additional ones – in 21 AHs. Decentralisation.gov.ua asked Yevheniy Radchenko, deputy head of the Central Election Commission, about the reasons for this.
“In general, there are three categories of problematic hromadas,” he said. “The first inludes hromadas of the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast, located on and nearby the demarcation line. By the way, in 2015, local elections were not held there as well. There are 8 such hromadas: the Volnovaska, Shchastynska, Shyrokinska, Olhynska, Khlibodarivska and others. As long as there are obstacles related to the military aggression of the Russian Federation, elections cannot be held there, including for security reasons. Legislative and international regulation is also needed. Here is an example: one of the settlements of the future AH is located behind the demarcation line, on the territory that is not controlled by the Ukrainian Army. How can elections be held there? I emphasise that this restriction does not apply to those hromadas of the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast that are relatively far from the line of demarcation. In particular, we appointed the first elections in one Donetsk Oblast’s AH and eight of the Luhansk Oblast.
According to Yevheniy Radchenko, only one AH – in the Volyn Oblast – can refer to the second category of hromadas, where the elections were not appointed. The first-instance court’s decision regarding this AH formation has not yet come into force, that is, it is necessary to wait for an appeal. And since it is not known what the decision of the second-instance court will be, elections cannot be appointed.
“The third category of problematic hromadas include AHs that are sometimes called “matryoshkias”,” continued Yevheniy Radchenko. “The “matryoshka” is formed when a larger city absorbs the smaller one, or when the city absorbs a village or urban-type settlement, while at the same time a relevant local self-government body remains there. The most striking example is the city of Tavriysk, located within the boundaries of Nova Kakhovka city, Kherson Oblast. According to the law, the decision on AH formation by, supposedly, Tavriysk has also to be made by Nova Kakhovka. Tavriysk cannot detach itself from Nova Kakhovka without the permission of the latter. There are six hromadas of this kind.
The CEC did not appoint elections in the Novodnistrovsk urban AH as well. After the amendments to the law on voluntary amalgamation were adopted by the Parliament on 3 April 2018, the cities of oblast significance were equaled to AHs – without elections’ appointment. However, since the Novodnistrovsk City Council did not withdraw its appeal, the CEC had to take it into account in its report.
One of the reasons for not appointing additional elections is amalgamation that contradicts to the perspective plan or amalgamation with hromadas that are not recognised as capable. There are 8 such appeals. The next reason for the CEC’s refusal is the models of accession, in which the settlements joining this or that hromada are located in other rayons. There were 13 such appeals received. If the first elections in these hromadas are allowed to be held, and the Verkhovna Rada even made a separate decision in this regard, however the legislation says nothing about additional elections, according to the CEC. An appeal on the necessity of legislative regulation of this situation has been already directed to the Parliament.
Yevheniy Radchenko also noted that the very elections’ appointment procedure requires an immediate revision.
Commenting on the possibility of appointing the following April elections in AHs, the deputy head of the Central Election Commission said that they will be appointed “but taking into account all realities, for example, the budget”. In addition, Yevheniy Radchenko stressed that holding of the presidential and parliamentary elections will not in any way hinder the holding of local elections. In some hromadas, they can even take place at once.
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