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The Impact of the 2004 Constitutional Reform on the Decentralisation/Democratisation Paradox in Ukraine
My research is focused on the relationship between democratisation and decentralisation in Post-Soviet Ukraine. Upon independence, Ukraine emerged as a unitary state that retained the highly centralised system of territorial-administration inherited from the Soviet Union. While the 1996 Ukrainian Constitution affords wide-ranging competences to local self-governments at the municipal level (at least in theory if not practice), the Constitution is deliberately vague with regards to the competences of regional/oblast level administrations. As in various other unitary states, the lowest administrative division in Ukraine enjoys a greater degree of competence and independence than higher level administrative divisions.
As a country with well-accentuated political, religious and linguistic cleavages, it is no surprise that territorial identity politics play a huge part in contemporary Ukraine. Successive Ukrainian governments have resisted decentralising governance and have maintained central control as a way of subduing the oft-stated "East vs. West" territorial divide, until an overarching Ukrainian national identity has been consolidated. Decentralisation, although a fundamental democratic principle, has thus been avoided at the regional level due to the fear of state fragmentation. Despite its undesirability, Ukrainian elites have viewed centralism as the best way of preserving the Ukrainian state, although this idea has been continuously challenged by sections across all of the political spectrum.
Indeed, as the 2012 Language Bill has shown, it is paradoxically the Pro-Western ‘democratisers’ who are most against the granting of minority language rights, out of fear of the possible annihilation of the Ukrainian language. On the other hand, it is the Pro-Russian Party of the Regions who are most for it, as it allows for an upgrade in the status of minority languages, notably Russian in areas of Russian-language majority.
This research aims to investigate the traditional paradox of the ‘democratic’ Pro-European Union interest groups and elites favouring unitarism and centralism, and the ‘less democratic’ Pro-Russian interests groups and elites favouring decentralisation and even federalism. This paradox will be examined to see if it actually existed during the Orange Revolution era (2004-2010), and the effects that the 2004 Constitutional Reform had on centre-periphery relations. The effects of the reform will be analysed to see whether the nature of the paradox has changed since, and whether the opposition’s consent to decentralised governance serves a different purpose to the incumbent Yanukovych Administration.
The changing nature of this paradox will be by presented by portraying different aspects of this phenomenon, including the geopolitical, cultural, historical and political economy dimensions.
2011-2012 – MSc (Econ) European Governance and Public Policy, Cardiff University
2008-2011 – BA (Hons) History, University of the West of England
Awarded an ESRC-funded studentship in the Language-Based Area Studies pathway to conduct research on Ukrainian democratisation and decentralisation.
16th November 2012 - Chaired the student-led ‘Transitions’ conference at Cardiff University.
I am the coordinator of the student-led seminar series. If anyone has any particular interests/issues they would like to be discussed in a seminar for Postgraduate Researchers, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regionalism, nationalism, decentralisation, sub-state government, territorial politics, state-building, European integration, Europeanisation beyond the EU, multi-level governance.