19.04.2017

No more «second first elections»: the modeling of principles for territories to join amalgamated communities

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Geography: Ukraine
Period: 03/2017

Serhij Vasylchenko, Andriy Gorbal, Ukrainian Center for Social Data

The procedure of joining of territories (village and township councils) to the amalgamated community had simplified substantially. However, we can expect for “bloated” councils (with much more council members than it should be for this population) to emerge, or councils without representation of territories. More about the phenomenon of “second first elections”, and what has come instead – will be discussed in this article.

The principle of voluntarism, which is embedded into the process of amalgamation of local communities, has caused a number of negative consequences:

  1. The process became too extended in time, delayed;
  2. Small amalgamated communities are established, not meeting the capacity criteria;
  3. The councils, which refused to amalgamate, may become enclaves inside the amalgamated communities etc.

Also, the law did not envisage the process of joining of other councils (territories) to the amalgamated community. Therefore, if residents of the local council wanted to join the already existing amalgamated community, it was regarded as a new process of amalgamation. Accordingly, the new “first” elections of the head, council and village mayor should have been held. The need for new elections was the main reason why the process of joining (of regular communities to the amalgamated communities) almost did not take place.

Only the residents in the Ochakiv rayon of Mykolaiv oblast dared for such a re-amalgamation. Kutsurubska and Ivanivska village councils amalgamated into the Kutsurubska amalgamated local community on 11 August 2015, and the first elections of members of local council and its head were held on 25 October 2015, the starosta was elected on 17 April 2016.

Later the residents of four (Dmitrovska, Ostrivska, Parutynska, Solonchakivska) neighboring village councils decided to join the Kutsurubska amalgamated community. That is why in the renewed Kutsurubska amalgamated local community the “first elections” were held again on 18 December 2016, where the members of council and its head were elected and appointment of starostas’ elections is expected.

 

kuzurub

 

In the “second first” elections, the community head (mayor) Inna Kopiyka and four deputies of the village council kept their posts. So the re-elected head and four deputies received a unique status in Ukraine of “double “first-elected” in one community.

There will be no more such “double first-elected” posts, because of the Law of Ukraine “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine (Regarding Voluntary Joining of Communities)” – Bill №4772, which was passed by the Parliament on 9 February 2017, and came into force on 17 March 2017, and allows the communities to join to the already established amalgamated community on a simplified procedure.

We decided to model the effect of this law – for visual explaining of its mechanisms – based on the example of Kutsurubska amalgamated local community.

I.e., If the second amalgamation in Kutsurubska amalgamated local community occurred under the new law, how would it happen?

Under the new rules, in case of joining the community to the already established amalgamated community, the powers of the head of amalgamated community expand on joined territories. That is, under these rules Inna Kopiyka would retain the post of the community head without reelections. However, she would have had a potential problem of legitimacy. Because of the number of voters in “joining” communities is bigger than the number of voters in originally amalgamated community before the joining. That is, less than 50% of voters of the renewed amalgamated community took part in her election.

Also, appointment of starostas is quite simple – where  starostas were elected –the old ones remain, and in joined communities starostas’ functions are to be performed by previous village heads (until the next regular elections).

At the same time, they retain the “size and terms of payment”, which have been established for them as for a village head before the joining. So, in the Kutsurubska amalgamated local community a starosta would remain to perform his duties and represent the interests of villages that were part of Ivanovo Village Council, and heads of Dmitrovska, Ostrovska, Parutinska, Solonchakivska village councils would join him and would begin to serve as starostas respectively. At the same time, now there are no starostas in the Kutsurubska amalgamated local community – they have not elected the new ones (elections of starostas was not yet appointed – after the “second first elections”).

The new mechanism of joining to the amalgamated local community provides for holding elections to the council, only if it has the status of village or settlement and only on those territories that are joining the amalgamated community.

For this case, a new type of election has been introduced into the electoral legislation – additional elections. They are held by the majority system of relative majority in single-mandate electoral districts, into which the territory joining the amalgamated community is divided.

To determine the number of additional single-mandate electoral districts the following formula is defined:  “the ratio of the number of voters in joined local communities, to the number of voters of the local community to which the joining occurred, multiplied by the total number of council’s members, determined by part three of this article, but not less than the number of local communities that have joined”.

In the case of the Kutsurubska amalgamated local community this calculation would be the following:

  • The number of voters of local communities that joined – 3728 (the total number of voters in Dmitrovska, Ostrovska, Parutinska, Solonchakivska village councils).
  • The number of voters of the local community, which was joined – 2702 (the number of voters of Kutsurubska amalgamated local community before the joining).
  • “Total number of council’s members, determined by part three of this article” – this rule can be interpreted in different ways, as part three of this article provides for the calculation of the number of mandates depending on the number of voters residing on the territory of the respective council. Should we take the number of voters in the amalgamated local community before the joining – or the total number of voters that will be there after joining? Most of experts with whom we consulted believe that it is necessary to take the number of voters of the amalgamated local community to which they join. The question arose, however: if we take the number of voters of the amalgamated local community to which they join, then for what moment – of the first (regular) or additional elections? In our case, the change in the number of voters did not affect the number of mandates – 14 (when the number voters is in the range of 1,000 – 3,000)
  • Then the number of additional mandates = (3728/2702)*14 = 19

That is, the number of council’s members of Kutsurubska amalgamated local community after the joining of communities has grown from 14 to 33 (14 + 19) deputies. It is almost as many as in councils having 20 000 – 50 000 voters – 34 deputies. Although for the council with the population of 5,000 – 20,000 voters, the law determines 26 deputies in local council. Therefore, preserving the proportion of the representation leads to the “bloating” of the council  composition.

For better comparison, the results of the “second first elections” and modeling are presented in the table below.

 The “first first” elections 25.10.2015 The “second first” elections 18.12.2016 If the rules of the bill №4772 were in force
The head of amalgamated community (“mayor”) Inna Kopiyka was elected Inna Kopiyka was reelected Inna Kopiyka would have remained without re-election (less than 50% of the voters of the renewed amalgamated community could take part in the elections)
Quantitative composition of the council 14 members 26 members 33 members
The number of mandates from the community to which the joining occurred - 11 (42.3%) 14 (42.4%)
Number of mandates from the territories which have joined - 15 (57.7%) 19 (57.6%)
Starostas Starosta was elected 17.04.2016 Not yet elected Starosta was elected on April 17 2016 + 4 former village heads who would perform the duties of starostas.

A peculiar situation arises when the council of an amalgamated local community, which other communities are joining with, has the status of a city.

For example, the Vaskovetska village council decides to join the Shumska amalgamated local community, in which this village council is an enclave at the moment.

vaskovets

 

The council of Shumska amalgamated local community has a city status, and there is no provision for additional elections to city councils in the recently adopted law. Therefore, there will be no representatives of the territory, which have joined, in the composition of the council of amalgamated local community. So, until the next elections the interests of residents of the three villages of the Vaskovetska village council, will be represented and defended only by early elected village head, who will go to the post of starosta. But this level of representation of the interests of residents of the joining territories can reduce the desire to join to amalgamated local communities, in which the council has the status of city.

The adopted law significantly simplifies the process of joining of community to the already established amalgamated community, but at the same time we will have such “non-format” councils.