Reforms in Ukraine: public opinion

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17 лютого 2020
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A nationwide survey was conducted by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation in cooperation with the Razumkov Center Sociological Service on December 6-11, 2019 in all regions of Ukraine with the exception of the Crimea and the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. 2018 respondents aged 18 and older were surveyed. The theoretical sampling error does not exceed 2.3%.

For comparison, we present data from the surveys conducted in different years by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation with the Razumkov Center and the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology. 

   The survey was funded by MATRA project of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands.

  • Citizens of Ukraine thought that the main problems hindering Ukraine's development were: corruption (69%), the war in Donbas (69%), the oligarchs' dominance in the economy (31%), lack of professionals in government (25%), migration and outflow of working-age people from the country (25%).
  • In the end of 2019 confidence in success of reforms was stronger than 12 months before. In December 2019 only 13% of respondents did not believe in success while in May 2018 there were 23% of such respondents. In 2019 13% peole were quite sure about success and 38% believe in success with some doubts, while 31% were not sure but had some hope  
  • Most citizens (80 %) believed that Ukraine can overcome existing difficulties. However, only 25% thought that it can be done in the next few years, and 55% consider the possibility of success in the longer term.  Only 11% did not believe in the ability of the country to overcome present difficulties.
  • President was considered to be the main driver of the reforms by 60% of citizens. Other main drivers of reforms were: government (37%), parliamentary faction of party “Servant of the People” (30%), Ukrainian people (27%), NGOs and volunteers (24%). When asked about major forces resisting reforms people pointed out oligarchs (51%) and bureaucracy or officials (43%). In contrast to the last year, public opinion about drivers of the reforms changed significantly: trust toward president has drastically increased from 24% to 60% as well as to and parliamentary majority from 10 % to 30%. At the same time attitude toward such reform drivers as Western countries cooled from 25% to 12% as well as to the IMF and World Bank from 24% to 12%.

The positive balance in public appreciation of certain actors of reform implementation (ie, positive difference between indentification of actor as a reform driver versus identification of the same actor as obstacle) was achieved by President of Ukraine (+ 52 %), Ukrainian people (+23 %), NGOs and volunteers (+ 21%), government (20 %), parliamentary majority (+18%). Meanwhile oligarchs (-48%) and officials (-42%) increased their negative balance. 

  • More citizens expressed their readiness to sustain some losses in their welfare for the sake of reforms (increase from 32 % in 2018 to 49% in 2019). Still, only 14% were ready to wait  as long as necessary, although in 2018 this there were fewer of them - 9 %. 35% of respondents said they can endure hardships no longer than 12 months (24% in 2018). The share of those who did not want to wait and suffer  decreased to 25% from 30% in 2018. And 21% said they couldn’t endure more troubles since their living conditions were already unbearable (32% in 2018).
  • Among national authorities only President had positive public evaluation as implementor of reforms (60% of respodents made positive assessment and 25% - negative). The Cabinet of Ministers had negative evaluation (45 % of respodents made negative assessment, 36% - positive), as well the Verkhovna Rada and (50% of respodents made negative assessment and 31% - positive).
  • The most important reforms for Ukrainians have remained same:  59% (last year it was 58%) of respondents said that anti-corruption reform was the most important, health care reform was considered to be most important by 54%, (last year - 47 %), pension and social security reform (46 %, last year - 44 %), law enforcement reform (37%, last year - 32%), lustration of officials (28 %, last year - 29 %), defense reform and increasing defense capabilities (23 %, last year - 22%). However, only small share of Ukrainians believed that these reforms were successful: anti-corruption  (10%), decentralization (10%), health care reform (9 %), army reform (9 %), land reform (8 %). On the other hand, 51 % of respondents said there were no successful reforms (last year - 41 %).
  • Only 19% of Ukrainians were satisfied with government’s communications about reforms (in 2018 11 %). At the same time the share of people who did not trust what government said about reforms decreased from 47% in 2018 to 23% at the end of 2019. The lack of information about governmental activities was admitted by 28% of respondents (30% in 2018), And 29% thought that there was sufficient communication about reforms but it was not understandable for population (25% in 2018). 
  • Majority of  Ukrainians (71%, in 2018 - 65%) believed that the state should provide maximum of free services - education, health care, pensions, even if it means increase of the taxation, 22% of respondents did not agree with such statement (23% in 2018). And only minority (22 %) supported an opposite option - that it is necessary to minimize the role of the state, reducing taxes for people who are able to pay themselves for education, health care, and make savings for their pensions.
  • 70% of respondents (77% in 2018) believed that most people in Ukraine would not be able to live without constant state support, 19% supported the opposite statement (13% in 2018).
  • At the same time the number of those who believed that "the state should be fully responsible for provision of every person with all necessary" decreased: from 44% in 2018 to 38% in 2019; instead, the percentage of those who believed that "the state must ensure the equal “game rules” for every individual and then individuals are responsible for how to use these opportunities” increased - from 45 % in 2018 to 54% in 2019. 
  • 33% of respondents agreed to give in their rights and freedoms in exchange for welfare (26% in 2018). Relative majority 42% (36 % in 2018) stated they were ready to suffer from misery but keep their freedom and respect for all civil rights. And 25% (39% in 2018) were unable to choose between these alternatives.  Respondents from the eastern regions, in contrast to people from other parts of the country,  tended to be more in favor of sacrificing their rights in exchange for wellbeing (42 % against 31% of those who disagree).
  • Majority of citizens - 52% believed that “democracy is the most desirable system of government in Ukraine”. The opposite view - that under certain circumstances an authoritarian regime can be more effective - is held by 20% and another 19% said that political regime order did not matter for them. Respondents from the eastern regions had different preferences if compared with the national level: 37 % of them preferred democracy and for 30% political regime wasn’t important matter.
  • In 2019 only 10% of citizens were involved in civic activity.

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