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Why No Federalism? The Challenges of Institutionalizing a Multilevel Order in Ukraine

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Emerging Federal Structures in the Post-Cold War Era

Part of the book series: Federalism and Internal Conflicts ((FEINCO))

Abstract

Democracies that score high on indexes of linguistic and ethnic diversity tend to be federal states. Ukraine is regionally highly diverse based on the inhabitants’ preferred everyday language, geopolitical orientation and memory politics. Nonetheless, Ukraine has not introduced a federal system. On the contrary, federalization is a no-go zone in Ukraine and the Constitution establishes that the country is a unitary state.

Considering the tensions between the institutional setting and its underlying societal make-up, this chapter argues that Ukraine can be studied as a crucial case. The chapter’s basic questions are: Why is there no federal system in Ukraine, and are there signs of federal practices which herald the emergence of federal structures?

The chapter argues that, at present, the dynamics of territorial politics are not federal in Ukraine, and there is no evidence indicating a truly federal model in the near future. Among the reasons for this is the fact that Ukraine’s regional diversity is not clearly cut but blurred. Moreover, political parties do not peripheralize politics but operate nationwide. Neither do Ukraine’s widespread patronalism and clientelism have a regional ‘flavor’. And finally, different from Russia, which inherited a federal structure from the Soviet past, Ukraine lacks similar path-dependent institutions.

This chapter forms part of the ARDU project (Accommodation of Regional Diversity in Ukraine), funded by the Research Council of Norway, project number 287620.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In addition to the 24 ‘ordinary’ regions, the oblasti, they include the Republic of Crimea and two cities with special status—Kyiv and Sevastopol.

  2. 2.

    See, for example, op-ed by Anatolii Tkachuk, scientific director of the Kyiv-based Institute for Civil Society, “Decentralizaciia—strategiia meniaetsia?” Zerkalo Nedelii, June 9, 2020.

  3. 3.

    The population of Crimea and the two secessionist proto-republics in Donbass constituted together 16% of the voters in the 2010 presidential elections and 12% in the 2012 parliamentary elections (D’Anieri, 2019).

  4. 4.

    In 2004, after the Orange Revolution, a constitutional amendment significantly lowered the power of the president (V. Iushchenko), who experienced serious confrontation with the Verchovna Rada under the premierships of Tymoshchenko and Ianukovich (Pleines, 2016, p. 111; Torikai, 2019, p. 13). After V. Ianukovich (2010-14) had been elected president, the presidential-parliamentary system of the Kuchma period (1994-2005) was reinstalled. In the course of the Euromaidan in 2014, after V. Ianukovich had been ousted, the presidential system was finally discredited (Kuzio, 2018, p. 344), and the constitutional reforms of 2004 were re-enacted.

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Correspondence to Sabine Kropp .

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Kropp, S., Holm-Hansen, J. (2022). Why No Federalism? The Challenges of Institutionalizing a Multilevel Order in Ukraine. In: Keil, S., Kropp, S. (eds) Emerging Federal Structures in the Post-Cold War Era. Federalism and Internal Conflicts. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-93669-3_5

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