Ukraine’s Central Election Commission (CEC) will today initiate the campaign for upcoming local elections, which are slated for October 25.
Despite pressure from Moscow, Kyiv has ruled out the possibility of elections within the Kremlin-controlled areas of the Donbass region, which has been wracked by conflict between Russian-backed separatists and the post-revolutionary government since 2014. Elections for the government-controlled portions of 18 frontline communities—including the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, which fall within the immediate vicinity of the line of contact—have likewise been abandoned after some debate.
The majority of the frontline communities that remain active or potential combat zones have been subject to temporary Kyiv-appointed Military-Civil Administrations (MCAs) since 2015, in contradiction of Ukraine’s current trajectory of decentralisation. MCAs have multiplied at the subregional level despite their intended impermanence, and have been criticised for their lack of checks and balances and accommodation of autocratic governance. The exclusion of notable MCAs from today’s campaign—while sensibly precluding the autonomy of Russian proxy regimes—is a strong indicator of Ukraine’s enduring vulnerability within the Donbass, as Kyiv is clearly reluctant to expose its tentative control to Russian encroachment. Expect the MCA model to permeate Ukrainian politics in the medium-term, as the state struggles to distance itself from its centralised roots and Moscow’s grasp over its electorate.
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Daniel is an analyst and editor on the Current Developments team. He contributes regularly to the Daily Brief, focusing primarily on European, Middle Eastern and sub-Saharan politics.