VILLAGE MAYOR (“STAROSTA”) IN AMALGAMATED COMMUNITIES: REGULATORY PROBLEMS In the process of the voluntary association of local communities, the institution of village mayor is introduced for the first time in Ukraine. Its main function is to represent and protect the interests of the villages and towns that are included in the united communities. As of August 2016, headmen were selected in 84 communities, next in line is a number of amalgamated territorial communities (AC) where headman elections are already assigned. Therefore, the following issues have become increasingly relevant: what is the position of the headman in the local government system and how to effectively organize its election and activities?
ANALYSTS OF ALL-UKRAINIAN NGO «ASSOCIATION FOR COMMUNITY SELF-ORGANIZATION ASSISTANCE»
VILLAGE MAYOR (“STAROSTA”) IN AMALGAMATED COMMUNITIES: REGULATORY PROBLEMS In the process of the voluntary association of local communities, the institution of village mayor is introduced for the first time in Ukraine. Its main function is to represent and protect the interests of the villages and towns that are included in the united communities. As of August 2016, headmen were selected in 84 communities, next in line is a number of amalgamated territorial communities (AC) where headman elections are already assigned. Therefore, the following issues(MLN. have become (MLN. increasingly UAH) UAH) relevant: what is the position of the headman in the local government system and how to effectively organize its election and activities? At the legislative level, the legal status and powers of headmen are resolved only in general terms. Therefore, it is necessary to obtain high-quality local legal and regulatory framework for the effective functioning of this institution: Charter of the territorial community, Statutes of headman, Regulations of the local Council and its executive bodies, which should clearly prescribe in detail all procedures relating to the activities of headmen. All-Ukrainian public organization “Association for Community Self-Organization Assistance” held a sustainable research of the institution of headman in Ukraine. It identified issues requiring decisions at the legislative level by amending the Law "On Local Self-Government in Ukraine" and other legislative acts. According to the reform, the position of headman should be imposed primarily on the level of the previous local communities, which had rural or village council and the relevant Chairman prior to the integration, except for the AC administrative center. But there is no requirement for introduction of headman position in the legislation. The solution of this problem is passed to the AC Council which can impose as many headman positions as deemed appropriate. In particular, one headman may be elected from several villages, included in the united communities, so some of the villages may be left without headmen. Conversely, the headmen can be selected in those settlements that had previously formed part of united communities. This model has the potential to ensure a broad representation of the periphery, although its application is justified only in the AC, where settlements are relatively large.
Draft Law No. 4742 dated 01.06.2016 (authors – O. Dekhtyarchuk, V. Yanitskiy, T. Batenko, O. Musiy and others) proposes to implement a concept “Headman (“Starostynsky”) District” into the Law "On Local Self-Government in Ukraine", which should determine the territory subject to the authority of one headman. It is also proposed that in the AC administrative center a Headman District is not formed and a headman is not elected. However, provisions on the Headman District inherent in the draft law are unclear. Therefore, there is a risk that a significant part of the peripheral territories of the AC will remain without representation through the headman. Therefore, the proposed definition of “Headman District” and the principles of its formation require clarification. One more conclusion: the powers and the levers of influence on decision-making, granted to headmen by the Law "On Local Self-Government in Ukraine", are not sufficient for the proper performance of their duties due to the fact that these functions are poorly provided with mechanisms for their implementation. In order to better regulate the headmen activities, AC councils are encouraged to adopt Statutes of headman, where his or her rights, obligations and other issues related to his/her activities will be clearly determined. These issues can be also identified in Charter of the territorial community. Draft Law No. 4742 proposes to significantly expand the list of headman powers, adding the opportunity to participate in the plenary sessions of the local council and its standing committees with the right of deliberative vote, advocate on matters affecting the interests of the inhabitants of the villages and towns of the corresponding Headman District, to coordinate the draft decisions of the local council, relating to the property of the territorial community, which is located on the territory of the respective Headman Districts. Draft Law No. 4742 also vest headmen with authority to monitor the state of the environment, of social and public infrastructure, the rule of law, the status of respect for the rights and legitimate interests of the residents in social and humanitarian aspects. In addition, the headmen acquire the right to receive information, documents and materials from the Council executive bodies, as well as contribute to the formation and activities of community organizations and other forms of public involvement in the settlements of their Headman District.
On the other hand, the disadvantage of the Draft Law is that it actually contains an exhaustive list of the headman powers, while the current version of the Law "On Local Self-Government in Ukraineâ€? admits that the Statutes of headman may assign him to other responsibilities. It is important to maintain the rule so that the council could delegate headmen the powers of their executive bodies. We consider optional (as today) headmen membership in the executive committees of local councils to be an extremely negative aspect of the Draft Law No. 4742. As a result, it is possible that headmen will not be included in the executive committees at all, or only part of them will be included. This rule certainly will restrict their ability to perform their functions and will make them even more dependent on the Council of Deputies and Heads of AC, which may adversely affect the ability of headmen to take principled stands while defending the interests of the villages and towns from which they were elected. The term of the first headman election is not clearly defined in the legislation. As a result, these elections are being conducted at a very slow rate, and in some communities, there is a risk that they will not be held at all until the next regular local elections. Given that the headman's duties before the first election are fulfilled by a person exercising powers or the Chairman of rural or settlement council of the respective territorial community prior to the unification, but for the moment may not receive proper support from the community, solving this problem may be delayed considerably. As of August 1, 2016, the headmen elections were held in 84 united communities of Ukraine, of 177 formed at the moment. During August - October 2016, elections should be held in 11 communities more. The law stipulates that the elections should be financed out of local budgets. Therefore, many communities do not appoint such elections under the pretext of the lack of the necessary funds in the budget. Thus, there is a risk that the councils may postpone the headman election until the next local elections, appealing to a lack of funds. The legislation does not contain a clear mechanism of accountability and responsibility of headmen. In addition, it does not provide for the possibility of withdrawing the headman from his position by the voters. The Draft Law No. 4742 proposes to fill this gap, indicating that the headman is obliged to report on his work to the residents of the
Among the list of grounds for early termination of headman powers, proposed by the Draﬅ Law No. 4742, is implementation of the mechanism for headman withdrawing on popular initiative, which is an innovation. But serious "trap" for the headmen is a rule, proposed by the Draﬅ Law, whereby the powers of the headman can be prematurely terminated by a decision of the Council, if the headman violates the Constitution or the Laws of Ukraine, the rights and freedoms of citizens, and does not ensure the implementation of powers granted to him. The main risk of these provisions is that they actually provide the basis for the complete subordination of the headmen to the local AC Council, which would certainly reduce their ability to eﬀectively defend the interests of peripheral communities where these headmen were elected.
in the concluding provisions of the law of Ukraine "On a voluntary association of local communities", to oblige the AC to hold ﬁrst headman elections not later than six months aﬅer the ﬁrst election of the Council and the Chairman of the AC
to adopt the amendments to the Law of Ukraine "On Local Elections" (with respect to ﬁnancing of the preparation and holding of the ﬁrst headman elections) and make the appropriate changes to the Law "On the State Budget of Ukraine for 2016” in order to ensure ﬁnancing of the ﬁrst headman elections with the State Budget funds
to amend the deﬁnition of Headman District, as well as to prescribe more clearly the criteria and procedure of its formation, in order to guarantee maximum coverage of the entire periphery of the united community by such districts, on the one hand, and on the other - to contribute to more or less even distribution of AC population between Headman Districts
to delete a possibility to change the boundaries of the Headman District and its nonformation on the territory of the community, which became the AC administrative center, from Article 1 of the Draﬅ Law No. 4742
to maintain the current wording of the relevant provisions of the Law "On Local SelfGovernment in Ukraine” according to which the headman is a member of the AC Council Executive Committee by virtue of his position, and provide for the delegation to him of certain powers of the Council executive bodies by the Council
to delete the rule on the possibility of early termination of headman powers by the Council decision for violating the Constitution and Laws of Ukraine, the rights and freedoms of citizens, and non-implementation of powers granted to him
This analytical paper has been prepared under the Think tank support initiative performed by the International Fund "Renaissance" (IRF) in collaboration with the OSF Think Tank Fund (TTF), which receives support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) The opinions and views expressed in this research represent the position of the author and do not necessarily reďŹ‚ect the position of the Swedish government.
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