WASHINGTON/KYIV — Dec. 5, 2013 — A clear majority of Ukrainians is dissatisfied with the socio-political situation in the country, with 87 percent displeased with the economy and 79 percent expressing the same opinion on the political state of affairs, according to a survey conducted by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).
The results come from IFES’ 21st public opinion survey in Ukraine, which polled respondents throughout the country on their thoughts on politics, economic issues and current events. IFES has conducted regular public opinion surveys in Ukraine since 1994.
The survey findings indicate that a majority of Ukrainians believe that the country is on the wrong track and headed toward instability (58 percent), up from 2012 findings (53 percent). Responses on several questions point to specific economic concerns, including inflation (56 percent), poverty (51 percent), unemployment (50 percent) and corruption (47 percent). Economic issues have traditionally received the most mentions in previous IFES polls in Ukraine when it comes to serious concerns facing the country.
Respondents were also asked about Ukraine possibly taking steps to join the European Union (EU) or the Customs Union. Opinions are divided, with 37 percent of Ukrainians indicating support for the country to join the EU and 33 percent indicating preference for the Customs Union. There are significant regional differences on this issue as there is greater support for Ukraine taking steps to join the EU rather than the Customs Union in the West (73 percent versus 5 percent) and in Kyiv (64 percent versus 10 percent), while there is greater support for joining the Customs Unions rather than taking steps to join the EU in the South (62 percent versus 14 percent) and the East (46 percent versus 20 percent).
There are low levels of confidence in all the major national leaders: President Viktor Yanukovych (69 percent little or no confidence); Head of UDAR Vitali Klitschko (52 percent little or no confidence); Prime Minister Mykola Azarov (73 percent little or no confidence); Speaker of Parliament Volodomyr Rybak (68 percent little or no confidence); Yulia Tymoshenko (67 percent little or no confidence); Head of Batkivschina Arseniy Yatsenyuk (66 percent little or no confidence); Head of Svoboda Oleh Tyahnybok (70 percent little or no confidence), and Head of the Communist Party Petro Symonenko (75 percent little or no confidence). The percent expressing little or no confidence in Yanukovych has risen from 59 percent in 2012 to 69 percent in this year’s survey.
With presidential elections on the horizon in 2015 and the expectation that no one candidate is likely to win in the first round, respondents were given three possible scenarios for second-round matchups and asked to name their choice:
- In a contest between Yanukovych and Klitschko, 36 percent would choose Klitschko, 20 percent Yanukovych, 13 percent don’t know, 18 percent against all and 12 percent would not vote.
- In a contest between Yanukovych and Yatsenyuk, 26 percent would choose Yatsenyuk, 22 percent Yanukovych, 23 percent against all, 14 percent don’t know, and 12 percent would not vote.
- In a contest between Yanukovych and Tyahnybok, 24 percent would choose Yanukovych, 18 percent Tyahnybok, 27 percent against all, 16 percent don’t know, and 13 percent would not vote.
The decline in confidence in political leaders has been accompanied by a decline in confidence in many institutions in the country. Confidence in the Verhovna Rada has fallen from 23 percent in 2012 to 16 percent in this year’s survey (75 percent lack confidence). Similarly, there is little confidence in the Cabinet of Ministers (20 percent) and the Central Election Commission (21 percent). The lack of confidence in institutions extends to opinions on political parties. When asked which party represents their views and interests, the largest response was that no party represented respondent’s interests (25 percent), and another 19 percent say that they don’t know which party represents their views and interests. Party of Regions is named by 15 percent, UDAR is named by 14 percent, Batkivshchyna by 12 percent and the Communist Party by 7 percent.
Local-level institutions and leaders fare somewhat better, with 44 percent expressing confidence in the mayor of their city/village local self-government and 39 percent expressing confidence in their city council. Regional officials, however, fare worse than local officials as only 28 percent of Ukrainians express confidence in their Raion administrator and 25 percent in their Oblast governor. Consistent with previous surveys, the media is the highest rated institution (45 percent express confidence) and 37 percent express confidence in the military.
The majority of Ukrainians are also skeptical about the integrity of elections in Ukraine. Only 11 percent of Ukrainians say elections are completely free and fair. Thirty percent say that elections are somewhat free and fair, while 43 percent say that elections in Ukraine are either not very free and fair or not free and fair at all. Concerns about the integrity of the elections is highlighted by the fact that 64 percent of Ukrainians disagree that election results in Ukraine accurately reflect the way people vote in elections.
The 2013 survey was sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and includes responses from 1,517 Ukrainians polled between October 26 and November 3, 2013. The opinions expressed in this survey do not necessarily reflect the opinions of USAID or U.S. Government
Download IFES Public Opinion in Ukraine 2013: Key Findings.
As the global leader in democracy promotion, IFES advances good governance and democratic rights by providing technical assistance to election officials; empowering the underrepresented to participate in the political process; and applying field-based research to improve the electoral cycle. Since 1987, IFES has worked in over 135 countries, from developing democracies, to mature democracies. For more information, visit www.IFES.org.
See this press release in PDF format.