Signs of Progress: Local Democracy Developments in Ukrainian Cities
Chapter, Peer reviewed
MetadataShow full item record
Original versionAasland Aa, Lyska O: Signs of Progress: Local Democracy Developments in Ukrainian Cities. In: Shelest, Rabinovych. Decentralization, Regional Diversity, and Conflict:The Case of Ukraine, 2020. Palgrave Macmillan p. 283-310
Decentralisation reforms presuppose the transfer of powers from central to local authorities. From being a highly centralised state, since 2015 Ukraine has taken some important steps towards reforms of local government with more influence assigned to the local level. But has the decentralisation reform had any impact on how ordinary people perceive their interaction with their local authorities, and has it increased participation in local politics? This chapter looks into citizens’ perceptions of and interaction with local authorities in the period from before the decentralisation reform was announced and some years into the reform. It presents results from two local democracy surveys carried out respectively in early 2014 and at the end of 2017 in 20 Ukrainian cities. The chapter shows that both in terms of citizens’ perceived responsiveness of local authorities as well as, and in particular, citizen political participation at local level there are signs of progress in most cities. A caution is that we see improvement mostly in inhabitants’ assessment of the way local authorities distribute resources and information, but a negative tendency when they evaluate their own possibilities for influencing politics locally. Still, people participate more actively in different forms of local politics according to our survey data. The survey reveals considerable differences between individual cities. Correspondent analysis is applied to make typologies of this interaction as seen from citizens’ perspective, and developments for individual Ukrainian cities are identified. In terms of local authority responsivenes there are no large differences between the eastern and the western parts of the country, but citizens in the west participate more actively in local politics. In general people are quite supportive of the initiated decentralisation reforms. Finally, we discuss the implications of the findings for the ongoing reforms and prospects for stability.