The Ukraine Reform Monitor provides an independent, rigorous assessment of the extent and quality of reforms in Ukraine. The Carnegie Endowment has assembled an independent team of Ukraine-based scholars to analyze reforms in four key areas. This third memo covers October and November 2015. The monitor is supported in part by a grant from the Open Society Foundations.
The main political event in Ukraine during the October–November period was the October 25 local elections. These much-anticipated elections did not fundamentally change the balance of political power in the country. However, they renewed concerns about the enduring power of oligarchs in some regions and demonstrated the residual strength of former president Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions in others. The economic situation improved slowly, and the government approved a number of sectoral liberalization measures. In late November, violations of the ceasefire in Donbas in eastern Ukraine became more frequent, leading to fresh worries about the future of the Minsk agreement aimed at ending the fighting. Despite modest progress on the issue of decentralization, fundamental differences about the form this should take remained unresolved.
Political and Judicial Reform
Local elections took place on October 25 in a highly competitive atmosphere. Although decentralization reform is far from complete, local councils already have new responsibilities, including bigger budgets, functioning local executive committees, and the ability to merge into new, larger communities. According to the Central Electoral Commission, 46.6 percent of those eligible to vote turned out to elect 155,970 members of local, district, and oblast councils as well as mayors. Local elections were not conducted in Crimea or in the separatist-controlled regions of Donbas.
The three parties that performed best in the elections were the president’s Petro Poroshenko Bloc; former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party; and Our Country, a new political movement linked with the president’s bloc (see table 1).