Sept. 13, 2011, 3:47 p.m.
Ukrainians have a more pessimistic view of their country’s future now than a year ago, with more than half saying they believe Ukraine is on a path toward instability, according to a survey (Report) (PowerPoint) conducted by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).
The findings represent a sharp departure from 2010, when views of Ukraine’s future appeared to trend in a positive direction. Last year, following the election of President Viktor Yanukovych in February, 21 percent of Ukrainians surveyed said they thought the country was headed for stability, up significantly from 7 percent in 2009. In 2011 that number fell again to 12 percent.
The results come from IFES’ 19th public opinion survey in Ukraine, which asked respondents throughout the country their thoughts on politics, economic issues and current events. IFES has conducted regular public opinion surveys in Ukraine since 1994.
As in 2010, economic concerns continue to define Ukrainians’ opinions on the most important issues facing the nation, with inflation, poverty and unemployment topping the list. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said they were dissatisfied with Ukraine’s economic situation.
The survey also found that confidence in Yanukovych has fallen since 2010, with 29 percent of respondents expressing confidence in the president. Fifty-eight percent said they were concerned or alarmed about the administration’s respect for rights and freedoms.
Ukrainians also expressed greater dissatisfaction with Yanukovych’s handling of key policy areas as compared to 2010. Nine in 10 are dissatisfied with the president’s handling of job creation and keeping prices low, and half are dissatisfied with his ability to create political stability. Forty-four percent said they are satisfied with Yanukovych’s handling of relations with Russia, down from 66 percent in 2010.
Local government leaders and city mayors were more trusted than any other political figures included in the survey. Half of respondents said they had confidence in local leaders, who were elected for the first time in nationwide local elections in October 2010.
The survey also gauged Ukrainians’ thoughts on a new draft election law that would change the way parliamentarians are elected. Under Ukraine’s current electoral system, all seats are filled through proportional representation. A vast majority of respondents (88 percent) said they had heard little or nothing about the new draft law, which would allow them to vote directly for individual candidates for half the parliamentary seats. When offered a choice of various elections systems, 51 percent prefer a system of direct voting for deputies, 24 percent prefer a mixed system, and 6 percent prefer the current party-list system.
Other key findings from the 2011 survey include:
The 2011 survey was sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and includes responses from 1,515 voting-age Ukrainians polled in July 2011.