I've read the introduction to the Wiki page, but I still don't get it: is there such a thing as regional elections in unitary states, for example Ukraine? President Zelensky appointed one governor, another — so it's how it's done in all unitary states (presidents appoint the heads of all administrative divisions), isn't it?

Even the UK is a unitary state on that Wiki map. So does it mean that the British PM unilaterally appoints the head of Scotland (sounds unlikely)? In other words, is there a link between whether a country is unitary and whether the constituents elect their governors and mayors?

  • Every country has its own laws. This question has little sense if not confined with a single country. Also, it should not be assumed that everything the Kolomoiskiy/Zelenskiy regime is doing about the local territorial governors is legal. Mar 10, 2020 at 18:57
  • @bytebusterforLongUsernames So you want to say that there's no link between whether a country is unitary and whether the constituents elect their governors and mayors, have I understood you correctly? Anyway, it's also an answer that can be posted as such Mar 10, 2020 at 19:14
  • I mean that the term "unitary" is not a definition per se, but a conclusion that we make from observing a certain country's Constitution and laws. Whether or not the governors are (should be) elected (directly/indirectly) or appointed (by a PM, President or another high official) in a certain country is specified in its law, too. There is no general answer that fits all unitary countries. Mar 10, 2020 at 20:44

3 Answers 3


Yes they do (in most cases).

When a state is unitary that means all power ultimately rests in the national government. In most such states the national government creates sub-divisions (counties, cities, regions) and give those sub division some power and in a democracy the local city councillors (or whatever else they may be named) are chosen by the people in that area.

The thing about unitary states is that it is the national government that decides what powers the local governments have and the national government can remove or rearrange local governmental structures as it pleases.


British PM unilaterally appoints the head of Scotland

Yes, that's the Secretary of State for Scotland, who is currently Alister Jack, and his department, the Scotland Office.

While the Scottish Government has administrative control over a lot of things, it's not totally devolved, and crucially the existence of the government is not constitutionally guaranteed.


That's right. Unitary systems are somehow centralized and presidents have more responsibilities. But it's about governors not mayors. They are local.

  • Please try to add references to support your answer.
    – JJJ
    Mar 21, 2020 at 3:20

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