Archive for November 9th, 2017

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The Verkhovna Rada rolls back the governance clock – Ukraine

November 9, 2017

On 9th November the “old guard” will be perceived as having won a (possibly) significant victory within the Verkhovna Rada.

No longer will Governors and their immediate deputies be selected by competition per the statute introduced post EuroMaidan/the Revolution of Dignity.  A return to direct presidential appointment has been achieved via the successful passing of Bill 7126.

Yet further, senior civil servants that were statutorily prevented from being a member or, or direct by, political parties has also been reversed.  They may now be active members of political parties – once again.

In short the 2 year(ish) governance and civil service enshrined in “reformist statute” requiring “competitively selected” regional governors, their deputies, and efforts to clearly separate senior civil servants from political parties is over prima facie.

The initial perception is clearly one of a return to “the old days” – and with that a return to “the old ways” – to the benefit of the old names/guard in power.

It has to be said that some of the competitive competitions held under the “reformist” statutory requirements were indeed rigged – they were in fact “competitive competitions” in name only.  That however is not the fault of the laws but their implementation and (occasionally gross) manipulation.

It also has to be said that some of those appointed through fair competition may well have interviewed well, may have scored highly on tests, and may have held the right qualifications – but when it came down to doing the job were more than a little disappointing.

However, it that reason enough in such a short time frame to assess failure of the new statutorily imposed system, and thus to reverse the need to remove direct and arbitrary presidential appointments, and also insuring the law separated leading civil servants from direct political party participation that motivated the laws in the first place?

Clearly not.  From the perspective of this blog, it is the re-politicalisation of the civil service that is by far the greater concern that politically appointed governors.  An a-political civil service is critical for the development of Ukraine – regardless of who is in power.

Further, the previous (and now returning) system of direct presidential appointment can hardly be said to have been any better for the local constituency.  Indeed, an arguement can be made in some regions of Ukraine it brought about significantly worse outcomes.

The vast majority of the Ukrainian electorate, political class (whether they voted for it or not), civil society actors and “friendly onlookers” will perceive this vote as a purely preparatory act for the elections due in March and October of 2019 when president and parliament return to the ballot box.

The Bill passed with  234 votes in favour – the (slim) majority coalition plus Will of the People answering The Bankova call once again when it matters.  Samopomich, Batkivshchyna and Oppo Block all voted against, whilst The Radicals didn’t vote on the Bill whatsoever.

This statutory move will not only be widely perceived as an unambiguously backward step in Ukrainian governance and the separation of political and civil service classes, it will just as importantly be very clearly understood as a bid to secure control of the regional political and civil service administrative resources in pursuit of electoral benefit to the current Ukrainian leadership.

If there was a belief within The Bankova that this preparatory act occurring so far out from the elections would somehow disconnect these perceptions from any such intent, then it will fail.

 

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