Article title Decentralization and Local Self-Government in the Context of Enhancement of Democracy in Ukraine

Doctor of Law, Professor, Professor of Constitutional and Municipal Law Department V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University (Kharkiv, Ukraine)


Doctor of Law, Professor, Associate, National Academy of Legal Science, Honored Worker of Science and Technology of Ukraine, Director Scientific Research Institute of State Building and Local Government of National Academy of Law Sciences of Ukraine (Kharkiv, Ukraine)


Name of magazine Legal journal «Law of Ukraine» (Ukrainian version)
Issue 10/2019
Сторінки [158-174]

Over the past decade, the vector of democratic movements and reforms has reached a global scale, and democratic decentralization has spread throughout the world. As a result, today about 95 % of democratic countries have subnational (regional or local) authorities delegated with political, fiscal and administrative powers.

In support of the arguments for democratic decentralization and enhancement of local self-government, it is often maintained that democratization and empowerment of subnational authorities will promote a greater accountability and responsibility of public authorities to local residents and will make governance more adapted to local needs and preferences.

The purpose of the article is to consider the essence and types of decentralization, its strong and week points, to show its relationship with democracy and define the models of democracy which are most correlated with the decentralization reform and can be most efficient in terms of expanding the competence of local self-government in Ukraine. The author makes a qualification of the reform focused on territorial organization of power and local self-government in Ukraine, which was launched in 2014, in terms of decentralization types and the expected model of local democracy planned to be achieved. The article highlights the legal framework of the decentralization reform, the nature of the functions to be distributed, the need to provide sufficient material and financial resources for additional powers granted to local self-government, the issue of local autonomy and the system of checks and balances in the relations of central and local authorities, and the role of non-governmental organizations in deployment of the reform and enhancement of local self-government.

The author substantiates the view that the decentralization reform should not be restricted to institutional changes (changes of the constitutional design at the subnational level) but should ensure a transition from consultative to participatory democracy, where each territorial community member will have the right and the real power, directly or through elected representatives, to influence the process of development and the content of the decisions which are made by the government and which directly determine the conditions of life in the territory which they concern. It is argued that it is participatory democracy that can serve as an efficient tool to counteract the consolidation of power in the hands of interested business groups and political elites who protect their corporate interests. The author emphasizes the need to increase legal civic activity at the local level and enhance the role of population self-organization bodies as “institutions of neighboring self-government”.


Keywords local self-government; decentralization; local democracy; participatory democracy


Authored books

1. Crenson M and Ginsberg B, Downsizing Democracy: How America Sidelined Its Citizens and Privatized Its Public (The Johns Hopkins University Press 2002) (in English).

2. Kuibida V, Pryntsypy i metody diialnosti orhaniv mistsevoho samovriaduvannia [Principles and Methods of Local Self-Government Bodies Activity] (MAUP 2004) (in Ukrainian).


Edited books

3. Mishyna N, ‘Propozytsii shchodo vdoskonalennia zakonodavstva Ukrainy pro orhany samoorhanizatsii naselennia’ [‘Proposals to Improve the Legislation of Ukraine on SelfOrganization Bodies’] v Orzih M (obshh red), Doktrinal’noe soprovozhdenie juridicheskoj praktiki: istorija i sovremennyj opyt kafedry konstitucionnogo prava: sbornik nauchnoprakticheskih statej [Doctrinal Support of Legal Practice: History and Modern Experience of the Department of Constitutional Law: a Collection of Scientific and Practical Articles] (Jurid lit-ra 2007) (in Ukrainian).


Journal articles

4. Briffault R, ‘The Rise of Sublocal Structures in Urban Governance’ (1997) 82 Minnesota Law Review 503 (in English).

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7.Pandey, ‘Democracy and Decentralisation’ (2005) SSRN Electronic Journal <https://> (accessed: 29.08.2019) (in English).

8. Datsii N, ‘Napriamy vdoskonalennia diialnosti mistsevoho samovriaduvannia’ [‘Areas of Improvement of Local Self-Government Activity’] (2007) 3 Derzhava ta rehiony 48 (in Ukrainian).

9. Pelivanova N, ‘Napriamy udoskonalennia zakonodavchoi rehlamentatsii diialnosti orhaniv samoorhanizatsii naselennia’ [‘Areas of Legislative Regulation Improvement of Self-Organization of Population Bodies Activity’] [2009] 1(10) Stratehichni priorytety 205 (in Ukrainian).

10. Samoilenko T, ‘Orhany samoorhanizatsii naselennia na seli yak diievyi instrument mistsevoho rozvytku’ [‘Self-Government Bodies in Rural Areas as an Effective Tool for Local Development’] (2016) 7 Ekonomika i suspilstvo 146 (in Ukrainian).

11. Shumliaieva I, ‘Orhanizatsiino-pravovi zasady diialnosti orhaniv samoorhanizatsii naselennia v Ukraini’ [‘Organizational and Legal Principles of Activity of Bodies of selfOrganization of Population in Ukraine’] [2009] 2(2) Derzhavne upravlinnia ta mistseve samovriaduvannia: zbirnyk naukovykh prats 302 (in Ukrainian).

12. Tkachenko V, ‘Normatyvno-pravove zabezpechennia diialnosti orhaniv samoorhanizatsii naselennia v Ukraini’ [‘Legal Support of Activities of Self-Organization Bodies of the Population in Ukraine’] [2014] 1(20) Visnyk Natsionalnoho universytetu “Iurydychna akademiia Ukrainy imeni Yaroslava Mudroho” 231 (in Ukrainian).



13. ‘Derzhava u smartfoni: Zelenskyi zibrav na Bankovii ekspertiv iz e-posluh’ [‘The State in the Smartphone: Zelensky Gathers E-Services Experts at Bankova Street’] (Ukrinform) <> (accessed: 29.08.2019) (in Ukrainian).