Analysis of Ukrainian Reforms during Zelenskyy’s First Year of Presidency

31. July 2020

Abstract

The analysis presents an overview of Ukraine’s reform process during the first year of Presidency of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and two Ukrainian Governments (Honcharuk and Shmyhal cabinets). Overwhelming victory in presidential elections and the victory of his party in parliamentary elections placed Zelenskyy originally in the unprecedented position of controlling both the executive and legislative branches. Due to the control of President’s Servant of People party of Parliament and activity of Honcharuk Government (that was composed mostly from young apolitical specialists) at the beginning of this period some important reforms were effected (law regarding the lifting of immunity of the members of the parliament; law on the procedure for impeaching the president; new electoral law; Naftogaz unbundling; land reform law and banking law; progress with digitalisation of government services using ProZorro and Trembita platforms etc.). However, soon this initial reform drive subsided due to the fractioning of the ruling Servant of People Party decision to replace pro-reform Honcharuk Government and some pro-reform key officials who led independent institutions with more managerial type politicians and officials has created questions how reforms will proceed. Besides that, the analysis points out that some key reforms, especially anti-corruption reforms, were passed also because of pressure from international donors (IMF, EU and USA). The New Shmyhal Government has promised to
continue with conducting of reforms, although in practice the speed of reforms has subsided at least for a moment. In general, however, it’s expected that Ukraine continues with reforms in the same speed as earlier governments – moving forward, even if at a pace slower than Western expectations. In the foreign policy Ukraine’s course will be to continue its policy of integration with NATO and the EU (although some recent protectionist legislative initiatives in parliament could complicate the situation). Regarding the relations with Russia and ending the war in the east there has been no breakthrough either, although Zelenskyy could claim some successes (exchange of prisoners, gas transit agreement). However, Ukraine has not achieved the agreement to end the Russian occupation of Crimea and eastern Donbas regions yet notwithstanding the Ukrainian agreement to adopt the Steinmeier formula that regulates the parameters of the future local elections in the occupied areas.

To read the full analysis by ECEAP’s Senior Research Fellow Mr. Aap Neljas, please see here: Overview of Ukrainian Reforms during Zelenskyy’s First Year of Presidency.