In accordance with Art. 2 of the Law of Ukraine “ On the Election of Deputies of Local Councils and Village Heads and Mayors” of Jan. 14, 1998, the deputies of village, settlement, district (in cities) and city Councils are elected on the basis of a majority system in single-member constituencies into which the whole of the appropriate village, settlement or city is divided. Territorial communities elect, based on universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot, for a term of four years, a village head, a settlement head and a mayor who is at the head of the executive body of the Council and presides over its meetings.
The status of the heads, deputies and executive bodies of the Council and their terms of reference, the procedure for formation, reorganization and dissolution are determined by the law.
The regional and district Councils are defined as representing the common interests of territorial communities of villages, settlements and cities. Under the constitution, the heads of regional and district Councils are elected by the appropriate Council (Art.141). The Law “On the Election of Deputies of Local Councils and Village Heads and Mayors”sets the procedure for election of regional and district Councils. According to Art.4 of the Law, district Council deputies are elected on the basis of a majority system in multi-member constituencies whose bounds coincide with the bounds of the pertinent villages, settlements, towns which are administrative and territorial units and are part of this district. Regional Council deputies are also elected on the basis of a majority system in multi-member constituencies whose bounds coincide with the bounds of districts and regional cities which are part of the given region.
Basic definitions and terms (according to the Law "On Local Government in Ukraine" of Apr.24 1997):
1) local governing – a territorial community`s right and capability guaranteed by the State, independently and on their own responsibility to decide matters of local significance in compliance with the Constitution and laws of Ukraine;
2) territorial community – residents permanently living within a village, settlement or a city which are independent administrative and territorial units, a voluntary association of residents of several villages having one administrative center;
3) a representative body of local governing — an elective body (Council) which consists of deputies and is empowered to represent the interests of a territorial community and make decisions on its behalf;
4) local authorities representing the common interests of territorial communities — elective bodies (district, regional councils) which consist of deputies and are empowered to act on behalf of the territorial communities of villages, settlements, cities that are in the territory of appropriate district or region;
5) executive bodies of Councils — the bodies which, under the Constitution and the Law "On Local Government in Ukraine", are established by the village, settlement, city Councils to perform executive and managerial functions of local governing in compliance with the relevant laws;
6) bodies of self- organization of population – representative bodies which are established by a part of the residents that are permanent or temporary residents in the appropriate territory within a village, settlement or a city;
7) delegated powers — the powers of public executive authorities vested in local authorities by the law, as well as the powers of local authorities that are delegated by them to public executive authorities by a decision of appropriate Councils;
8) communal property right — a territorial community right to own and expediently, efficiently and cost-effectively use and exercise discretion over property it owns both directly and through local authorities;
9) local government budget ( local budget) — a plan for raising and utilizing funds necessary to support the functions and powers of local governing;
10) district budget — a plan for raising and utilizing funds necessary to look after the common interests of territorial communities of villages, settlements, district towns, implementation of local programs and budget leveling;
11) iaeaniee aþ aæao — a plan for raising and utilizing funds necessary to look after the common interests of territorial communities, implementation of local programs and budget leveling;
12) self- taxation — f ormation, on a voluntary lines based on a decision by a meeting of citizens at a place of residence, of funds of residents of a certain territory in order to finance non-recurrent target activities of a social nature.
The European Local Government Charter that was signed by the member states of the European Council on Oct.15, 1985 in Strasbourg, has absorbed all major achievements of European democratic thought and laid a foundation for building the internal structure of European Council countries. The study of this document is most important for the creation of a new Ukrainian local government system. This issue is acquiring particular importance following Ukraine`s entry to the European Council in 1995. The preamble of the document contains a number of basic principles:
1) Local authorities are underpinnings of any democracy.
2) Citizens` right to participate in the running of public affairs is one of the democratic principles common for all EC member states.
3) This right can be immediately exercised exactly at the local level.
4) The existence of local authorities vested with real power, ensures a government which is effective and, at the same time, close to citizens.
5) Protection and strengthening of local governing in various European countries is an important contribution to the building of Europe underpinning which are the principles of democracy and centralization of authority.
6) This provides for the existence of local authorities which have bodies empowered with decision-making, which are created in a democratic way and enjoy broad autonomy in terms of their competence, procedure for its application and the necessary tools.
Generalizing the European countries` practice and leaving out theoretical debates, the Charter quite laconically and universally defines local government as a right and real capability of local authorities to regulate a large part of local affairs and run it, acting within the limits of law, on their responsibility and in the interest of local residents. This law can be exercised in the form of both representative democracy ( by councils or assemblies consisting of members elected by free, secret, equal, direct and universal ballot; the councils or assemblies can have executive bodies subordinate to them) and direct democracy (by meetings of citizens, referendums, etc.)
The major powers of local authorities are set by a constitution or laws. Within the limits of law, they are free to come up with their own initiatives on any issue which comes within their competence.
In determining their internal administrative structure, local authorities enjoy independence in compliance with general legal rules, taking account of local needs and ensuring effective governing.
Under Art. 8 of the Charter, any administrative control over local authorities may be exercised only in forms and cases provided by a constitution or law.
As regards the financial resources of local authorities, the Charter contains provisions under which they are entitled to sizeable amounts of their own funds over which they can exercise discretion in performing their functions. A part of the funds should come from the collection of local taxes and duties whose rates can be set by local authorities as provided by law.
Of importance is a statement of Art.11 which says that local authorities should be entitled to judicial protection to ensure the free performance by them of their functions and compliance with the local government principles embodied in their contry`s constitution and laws.