According to the survey conducted by “Rating” sociological group in January, the Ukrainians consider holding the local election in the Donbas one of the most successful steps of the government. 43% of the respondents share this idea. Those who named the election outnumbered those who named police reform, increasing the military potential and the government’s efforts to introduce visa-free travel to the EU.
The situation in the Donbas is different as only 26% of the citizens call the election fair and just.
The reason is, most likely, not the fact that the locals are opposed to the government, but the difficulties which the election commissions faced when arranging the elections on the part of the Donbas which is controlled by the Ukrainian government. The results were also affected by the fact that the elections in Krasnoarmiysk, Mariupol and Svyatohirsk were disrupted and shifted which, together with the long process of deciding whether to hold the election in general or not undermined the trust in authorities.
The fact that for a long time it was not clear where the election would be held did not contribute to high turnover either. For example, Kostyantynivka which is further from the demarcation line than Mariupol, did not hold the election and the local authorities appointed in 2010 still rule the town.
Despite this, the election took place in the majority of locatities on the liberated part of the Donetsk region.
Ukraine managed to create all the necessary conditions for a democratic election to be held in the region. This reinforced the inner stability of the region and, what is also important, signalized the world community that free and democratic society is developing in the Donbas. This gave Ukraine an opportunity to present itself as a democratic partner which once again highlighted the fact that the conflict in the east of the country is artificial and inspired by the Russian Federation.
So, who was elected by the Donbas? The team of “Strong Donbas Communities” movement of “UA Centre” decided to analyse who new local councils of the region will consist of to show changes and important tendencies which dominate in the region today. 21 local and 10 district councils were used for the research.
Renewing or relocating?
Total reloading of the councils of the region is one of the most important results of the election as more than 50% of the deputies in each council of Donbas districts and localities are new. Each third council got more than two thirds of new deputies.
One of the reasons of this is the fact that there were fewer cases when administrative resource was used by local authorities. One more factor was absence of centralized and monopolized political structure which had been created by the Party of Regions on all levels.
The absence of this centralized pressure gave way to the political struggle between local business and authorities. A higher level of transparency also influenced the result of the election. One more factor was the ban of the Communist party whose reporesentatives had penetrated nearly in each council in after the previous local election.
These factor contributed to reloading the communities of the region. Of course, it is too early to speak about fundamental changes in political platforms and new Donbas deputies often represent old local clans.
Still, the crucial thing is absence of the Party of Regions. Due to this fact, new councils, among representatives of local business, civil servants and politicians, can boast of new political forces which are characterized by totally different approach to their work.
The conclusion which can be made is: slow process of demonopolizing local authorities is on the way in the Donbas.
Breaking politial monopoly
According to the results of the election, 46% of town and district councils consist of representatives of Opposition Block which is a modified Party of Regions.
Although, the party managed to form the majority in many councils, the situation is different from the previous elections. Then, the Party of Regions representatives formed the majority in barely all councils, this time, they managed to form it only in 9 town councils out of 20 and in 1 out of 11 district councils of the Donbas.
Nash Kray, which got 23% of the votes, is the second political party by the number of its representatives in councils. Although this political force consists of many ex-members of the Party of Regions and it supports Opposition Block when there is a need to form a majority (Selodive, Dymytriv, Druzhkivka) are the examples of this, the situation is now different.
The Communist Party was the main sattelite of the Party of Regions in 2010. Its deputies were junior partners of the Party of Regions and did not oppose local clans. As for Nash Kray, they are more independent in their actions and decisions.
In Kramatorsk, for example, they openly contradict Opposition Block as there are two powerful groups in the city which compete for the right to control the local authorities. One of them is grouped around Maksym Yefimov and Nash Kray and another one is concentrated around Heorhiy Skudar, general director of “New Kramatorsk Machine-Building Plant”, who represents the Opposition Block.
Solidarnist, the party headed by the president, showed a good result as its deputies are represented in all but three town councils of the Donbas (Mariupol, Svyatohirsk and Krasnoarmiysk). Today, 12% of deputies represent it.
Valentyn Krasnopyorov for the Ukrainian Truth
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