2020 local election in the context of modern challenges

Lviv Regional Institute for Public Administration of the National Academy for Public Administration under the President of Ukraine

Problem setting. The flourishing of populism in recent years is caused, in our opinion, by an important factor – the current political bankruptcy of the Ukrainian left forces related, some way or another, to the Soviet past. Under the conditions of the authority concentration in the hands of the centrists and right centrists, the public request for social justice and more equal access of the citizens to the basic social benefits has lost common in the previous decades mechanisms of political representation. Thus, it was populists who touched on this topic and filled in the empty social and political niche.

The positions of the majority of the political elite and the mood of the general public are apparently similar within the scope of this aspect. The citizens unsatisfied first of all with their economic position, which worsened sharply under the conditions of war and crisis, hope that the reforms will become the tool for the improvement of their lives. However, the reforms, in the direction of which the Ukrainian government has been mowing after the Euromaidan and which are supported by the international donors and strategic allies of Ukraine, focus on the value-based choice, which is quite different from the intrinsic to the majority of Ukrainians aspiration for “social justice”.

Recent research and publications analysis. This problem was studied by such scientists as V. Haiets, O. Maidanchyk, T. Podorozhna, B. Makhonchuk, O. Yushchyk, and other scientists.

Highlighting previously unsettled parts of the general problem. Analysis of the parties' programs, which nominated their candidates for deputies, found out discrepancies in their area of focus with important for the citizens problems. Some issues are covered very generally, and promises are not backed up with the mechanism of realization. Particularly, the economic block of issues related to the filling of local budget and development of local economy very faintly touches all subjects of the election process. Promises for the provision of additional benefits to medical workers, educators, and socially disadvantaged categories do not explain from which resources these promises will be funded. Moreover, election campaigns paid little attention to the demographic problem.

Paper main body. Most citizens ignored the local election as they considered their role insignificant. Complicated ballots and oppressive epidemiologic statistics also became a constraining factor for many people. There was plenty of political advertisement in social media, direct meetings with electors, but there was a lack of the element of involvement or discussions. Apparently, some of the mentioned attributes are intrinsic to the politicians and public in general in western countries as well. But the main difference lies in the level of application of such attributes and the attitude to them of electors and society in general. Since it is clear: politicians act the way their electors allow them to act. 

Conclusions of the research and prospects for further studies. Although the main subjects of the local election process were political parties, the party principle was of secondary meaning. During the election, the citizens of the hromads (communities) focused on the candidates of local or national level and were not interested in the election programs of the parties. But there is one detail: the current election legislation provides the imperative mandate. That is, if an elected deputy does not work well or does not follow party discipline, they can be dismissed by the decision of a party. Discussions not about which street shall be reconstructed next, but about the outlook on life and related things: how we are planning to live the next 5 years, how we can make our city more convenient for the citizens, etc. The absence of interesting innovative ways of solution of relevant local problems caused some kind of weariness and inactivity of electors. Unfortunately, none of the candidates and political parties did manage to mobilize their electors and heighten the interest of society in this election campaign.

The first feature – this election was conducted under the conditions of quite unbalanced and non-perfect Electoral Code. It can be proved by the fact that during the election campaign – in September – the parliament tried to introduce amendments to the Code. Thus, the range of problems taking place during the election was caused by the imperfection of the legislation. Secondly, local parties, which do not have significant influence during parliamentary elections, most often do not participate in them at all. In sociological polls, quite big part of respondents chooses different parties for local and parliamentary elections. During nation-wide elections, significant role play popular political leaders and parties headed by them. Secondly, the next nationwide election in our country will be held in 2025.

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