NDI Research on Opportunities and Challenges Facing Ukraine’s Democratic Transition

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

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Several important social trends have been observed in NDI Ukraine's latest nationwide survey, completed in July 2017. These trends include growing support for gender equality in political life, rising demand for a more modern, service-based relationship between government and society, and increased willingness to participate in elections and civic activities.

Demand for a fully-functioning democracy remains high and stable (84 percent). This demand is one of several issues that unites Ukrainians across the country and supporters of the main political parties. Other unifying issues include refusal to give up Ukraine's right to determine its own future even if this produces an end to the conflict (82 percent up 2 percent from 2016).

Although frustration with the pace of reform remains and confidence in the effectiveness of anti-corruption measures is low, there has been no increase in demand for early elections since the previous survey in December 2016 and expectations of a 'Third Maidan' have fallen 6 percent  during the same period.

The advent of the visa-free regime has dramatically improved citizens' evaluation of Ukraine's EU access process but it has not changed demand for EU membership which remains stable at 55 percent. Demand for NATO membership, however, has increased (40 percent up 5 percent).

In an early sign of economic recovery, 10 percent fewer respondents are stating that they are worse off since the Parliamentary elections than was the case a year ago. However, this change is concentrated in the West ('worse off' 60 percent, down 20 percent since May 2016) and Lviv ('worse off' 57 percent, down 17 percent since May 2016).

Several divisive political issues have been prominent in recent months. These include the blockade of trade with the occupied territories and shutting down Russian language social media platforms. Over the same period, there has been a marked drop in optimism in Southern and Eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine's political landscape is complex and dynamic but, with the exception of increased support for the For Life party, there have been no dramatic changes in support for the main political parties since December 2016. However, the number of Ukrainians who feel positive about at least one political party has increased 9 percent. Equally, willingness to participate in elections - whether Presidential or parliamentary - has continued to rise steadily. Likely participation in elections still varies significantly at the regional level, with the West much more motivated than the rest of the country.

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