Poll: Ukrainians Express High Interest in Upcoming Election, but Few Approve of Parliament

ukraine
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko delivers a speech while holding a flag brought from eastern regions of the country, where military conflict continues. The ceremony, marking the Day of the State Flag, on the eve of Independence Day, was held in Kiev on August 23. Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters

Ukrainians are ready to go to the ballot boxes on October 25, according to a poll conducted by the International Republican Institute (IRI) on behalf of the United States Agency for International Development. The poll found that 75 percent of Ukrainians are either very likely or somewhat likely to vote in the local elections, which will put new mayors, regional councils and city councils into office.

"These elections are critical, as newly elected officials will see increased authority if parliament passes the proposed decentralization law that is central to President Poroshenko's reform efforts," the institute said in a statement.

Ukrainians were widely in favor of a new regulation requiring 30 percent of a political party's election list to be female: A combined 73 percent approved of the measure. Of those polled, 79 percent believe women serve influential positions in government.

women in ukraine
Women in Ukrainian politics are increasingly popular, the poll found. IRI

Only 29 percent of those in the eastern part of the country, war-torn by recent battles between government forces and pro-Russian separatists, said they were very likely to vote in the next election, compared with 45 percent of those in western Ukraine. Older Ukrainians are most likely to vote: 41 percent of those polled over the age of 51 said they were very likely to vote, compared with just 31 percent of 18- to 35-year-olds.

Part of the reason for high voter turnout might be displeasure with Ukraine's current parliament. Of the 1,200 permanent Ukrainian residents polled, 48 percent strongly disapproved of the job the parliament is doing. Another 35 percent somewhat disappoved. Only 1 percent strongly approved.

As for party loyalty, Ukrainians are all over the place:

party to vote for
Ukrainians are not largely loyal to any particular party, according to the poll. IRI

The party leading the pack, Solidarnist, is backed by President Petro Poroshenko, who has a high disapproval rate. The poll found only 4 percent strongly approved of Poroshenko and 40 percent strongly disapproved. This is the highest disapproval rating Poroshenko has received since the IRI began conducting such polls in March 2014.

Poroshenko's Cabinet of Ministers is not faring much better. The cabinet received only a 2 percent strong-approval rating, with 54 percent strongly disapproving of the job it is doing.

approval ratings politicans
Approval ratings for various Ukrainian politicians are low, according to the poll. IRI

The economy is also of concern to Ukrainians: 51 percent say the economy has worsened a lot over the past year, although this number is down from a July poll, where 61 percent felt that way.

"As with IRI's July poll, this new poll underscores the fact that Ukraine is at a critical juncture," Stephen Nix, director of the IRI's Eurasia programs, said in a statement. "People's frustration continues to grow with the pace of and lack of information on reforms. If the government is going to succeed in passing the reforms that so many demanded on the Maidan, they must do more to reach out to voters and explain the reform package to citizens."

One area of strong approval among Ukrainians was the new patrol police officers in Kiev, Lviv and Odessa. The new officers got a 41 percent strong-approval rating, with an additional 34 percent somewhat approving them. "This is one of the first reforms that Ukrainians can see, and it is a clear example of how positively people respond to reforms when they see them take effect in their communities," Nix said of the police reform.

Ukrainians also strongly approved of joining NATO. When asked which international economic union Ukraine should join, Ukrainians have consistently agreed that the European Union would be best, although 17 percent said they would supporter a custom union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. This is surprising, as over a third of Ukrainians described their nation's attitude toward Russia as "very cold." An additional 26 percent described it as "cold," and only 2 percent said it was "very warm."

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Ukrainians increasingly approve of joining NATO, the poll found. IRI

The United States didn't get a warm reaction either: While only 5 percent said the relationship with the U.S. was very cold, only 9 percent said it was very warm.

Ukrainians also widely agreed on Russia's seizure of Crimea: 95 percent say the annexation was illegal and invasive.

russian relations
Ukrainians' critical view of Russian troops in their country was overwhelming, the poll found. IRI

Here are the complete results from the poll:

Public Opinion Survey—Residents of Ukraine

Note: Thee poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent.

Poll: Ukrainians Express High Interest in Upcoming Election, but Few Approve of Parliament | World