New regionalist party in Ukraine can Show the way forward there and in Russia too, Shtepa says

Vadim Shtepa, Russian philosopher, political writer

Vadim Shtepa 

2014/10/13 • Ukraine

Vadim Shtepa, perhaps Russia’s leading advocate of regionalism and federalism, says that the new Mutual Assistance Party led by Lviv Mayor Andrey Sadovy with its commitment to European values, local governance, and the mutual assistance ideas from the Ukrainian diaspora can show both Ukraine and Russia how to proceed.

In a commentary on today, the Petrozavodsk-based writer, begins by recalling that earlier this summer he proposed that Russian regionalists imagine “an alternative history” in which supporters of regional self-administration would have appeared “not in the East but in the West of Ukraine”.

Such a group, the “Samopomich Obednannya,” has now emerged and is winning support not only in western Ukraine but elsewhere as well. Shtepa says this is to be explained by the fact that “voters are already somewhat tired from the tribunes of the Maidan of the start of the year” but have no interest in a return to Yanukovich-style centralization and deference to Moscow.

The Mutual Assistance Party is in many ways “a symbol of the cadres renewal” of Ukrainian leadership, the Russian regionalist argues, people who are “not bureaucrats” as has been the case with many Ukrainian leaders in the past but rather “primarily young professionals” in areas as diverse as information technology and law.

“It is interesting,” Shtepa continues, that this group appeared in Galicia at the start of last year rather than somewhere or sometime different. It arose out of “civic cooperative unions” which set as their tasks “regional economic self-organization and political self-administration” and drew on the mutual assistance models of Ukrainians in the United States.

Like “practically all political forces” in Ukraine, the new group accepts “the principles of European integration and the strengthening of national defense” as givens. What sets it apart, he says, is that “together with these principles, it is pushing actively for the development of local self-administration” and “even considers this the basis of stability.”

Over the last eight years, Sadovy says, local self-administration in Ukraine has seen its authority cut by sixty percent. As a result, Ukraine “has become weaker” because “the enemy has made use of this.” That trend must be reversed. Unfortunately, as a result of events in the east, over the last six months, centralization has “only increased rather than decreased.”

Looking to the future, Sadovy continues, “the very worst thing would be” if Kyiv allowed the regions in the east to have ever more self-administration while leaving “all the remaining cities at the former level. “If the state wants to be successful,” the Lviv mayor argues, “the only way is the development of local self-administration” everywhere.

Regions, cities, villages and social organizations can do a lot. “The task of the authorities is not to interfere” with this process but rather allow the people to work.  If that happens, Ukraine will flourish and Crimea will be returned to Ukraine because people there will see that Ukrainians are better off than they are under the “pseudo” regionalism Moscow is promoting.

“This is a clear and deep understanding of contemporary regionalism,” Shtepa says, one that has escaped from the association of “regionalism” with “the criminal-corrupt parody of it in the form of the Party of the Regions.” It is a genuine and European movement, and it is one that can provide important lessons to cities and regions in Russia as well.

Source: Window on Eurasia

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  • Paul P. Valtos

    Is this now the system we have here in America? We, in a state, decide who will be governor and let me tell you, we will get rid of this one. The only thing that the federal government does beside collect income tax is regulate utilities, EPA,(Environment Protection Act) OSHA (Office of Safety in the workplace) , the Federal Highways Program and anything having to do with interstate. That means as an example where you have dealings with more than one location of a company like a railroad, bridge, and other highway projects. Under the federal system it adjudicates (Supreme Court) the constitutionality of a state decision whether it be the death sentence of a prisoner, appeals of all nature if a lower court feels it needs further enlightenment by the top court, dealing with other international states, the US military, Dept of State, and those things that affect the whole country. Such things as the Rural Electrification Act (electric for farms rural areas, dams, national forests, anything that affects more than one state. Pretty simple. There are laws that all citizens must uphold or obey but most are local, state laws enforced by local peace officers.

  • sandy miller

    I too think this is an excellent idea based on US governance.

  • Brent

    Yes, there are absolute merits to decentralization of power. Most successful countries enjoy this type of system of government. HOWEVER, this does not mean subservience to a Russian master either. Especially one in which so much power is as centralized as the current Putin regime. I hope Mr. Shtepa isn’t only advocating this for Ukraine, but for Russia too. Especially after the sham invasions and referendums Russia was behind within sovereign Ukrainian territory.

  • Rods

    It make sense for local decisions to made locally, rather than is a far off place where they don’t know the needs and priorities in detail of the local populous.

    However, the problem that needs to solved throughout Ukraine is corruption and this is at all levels of government from village councils to the Rada. Any increase in local powers must also part of a package of accountability at all levels, so it does not lead to the raising and disbursements of funds being more efficiently lost by corrupt officials and more scope for bribing people at more levels of government for any services they should be providing due to their position.

    In the UK all local and government department accounts along with expenses and invoices are posted on the Internet. Anybody can make a freedom of information request at any level of government and they must respond within quite a short time scale. Interested parties and journalists regularly make requests to those that are responsible for funds to publicly justify how public money has been spent and how they represent value for money.

    In the UK corruption is very, very low and our multi-tiered state administration works reasonably well based on parish councils, town councils then unitary or county councils followed by national government. A few large cities like London have directly elected mayors, but in the lower tiers of government they are elected by the local counsellors. Levels of power and responsibilities depends upon the level of the administration.

    Like all public bodies they are not as efficient as private industry at administration and efficiently spending money, but this a global problem.