Most Ukrainians (42%) support decentralization reform. However, more than half of the respondents (55%) indicated they have not felt any change. Sixteen percent of citizens felt a positive change. The number of those who experienced negative change has doubled from eight to sixteen percent. Oleksiy Sydorchuk, a political analyst at the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation, announced these findings of the national survey during a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
In general, the number of those who doubt that local authorities can cope with additional jurisdiction has grown. Sixty-three percent of respondents are not satisfied with how much they can influence local governments’ decisions. However, half of the respondents said that they were not ready to participate in the management of local communities in case of expansion of local authorities’ jurisdiction.
“The main thing citizens said is that they neither feel the change in the general state of affairs in the country nor on the everyday life level […],”Ivan Lukeria, project manager of Citizens in Action, Ukrainian Independent Center for Political Studies, said. However, he stressed that the respondents also referred to the areas that local self-governments have no control over. He added that the respondents who felt improvements pointed out the areas that local authorities are responsible for – infrastructure, housing and communal services, transport, etc. “As for the negative changes, citizens nevertheless listed more fundamental problems that decentralization itself can hardly solve, especially over such a relatively short period of time. […] This includes poor quality of medical and social services, unemployment, etc.,” Oleksiy Sydorchuk added.
Maria Levonova, Coordinator of Development Center “UA Center”, emphasized that citizens’ dissatisfaction results from their misunderstanding of what is in power of local self-government bodies. “There is a big problem when citizens’ lack of understanding on how to spend money effectively, is placed on top of a lack of their understanding of what is within the jurisdiction of local authorities. As a result, what they say most often is ‘give us more money, but no additional authority’,” she said.