Decentralisation and reforms of local government have featured prominently in Ukraine’s agenda of political and economic transformation. They are also an important component of Ukraine’s participation in EP and ENP. As part of the ongoing reform process, Ukraine has recently adopted and began to implement a series of radical changes to the institutional set-up of municipal bodies; their administrative boundaries; and relations with other state, regional and local bodies.
Among the most important aspects of the reform is voluntary amalgamation of municipalities to form larger units with a minimum recommended population threshold of 5,000 people. These reforms are aimed at enhancing the capacity of local authorities to perform complex policy-making and service delivery functions, notably in healthcare and education; to devise long-term economic development plans; and to enhance revenue-generating capacities of local bodies. Pursuant to the act of the Ukrainian Parliament passed on 14 July 2015 (№ 595-VIII, art. 86.2) a new law governing local elections was put into place, among other measures raising the electoral threshold for parties running for local councils to 5% of the total vote.
The aim of this study is to provide an overview of both the wider political-institutional context that has a bearing on the successes and challenges of reform implementation; and of how local practitioners themselves see the reform process and the main obstacles to effective reform implementation. The study is based on insights from published academic evidence-based studies about aspects of local governance in Ukraine; and on interviews with local practitioners that were conducted specifically for this study.