Ukrainians Feel Badly Served by Government
Kyiv Post
By Euan MacDonald

Most Ukrainians are proud of the city they live in, and wouldn’t move away from their hometown if given the choice.

But they don’t like the way they are run.

That’s the key finding from the 2016 Ukrainian Municipal Survey poll released by the International Republican Institute on March 28. The nationwide poll of 19,200 Ukrainians aged 18 or older was carried out for the institute in 24 cities between Jan. 20 and Feb. 8 by Rating Group Ukraine. Funding for the poll was provided by the Canadian government.

Polling was not conducted in the occupied parts of Ukraine – Crimea, and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

Two years after mass public protests ousted the corrupt and nepotistic regime of former President Viktor Yanukovych, Ukrainians still see corruption and nepotism as serious problems in city government, with 91 percent saying corruption was a serious or quite serious problem, and 85 percent saying the same for nepotism.

In none of the cities polled did a majority of the public think the municipal authorities were doing enough to root out corruption.

Only in Lviv, in western Ukraine, did a majority of those polled think their city was moving in the right direction. In Severdonetsk, which was polled in place of Luhansk, where Russian-backed armed groups have seized control from the local authorities, only 11 percent of those polled thought their city was going in the right direction, while 44 percent said things were regressing in their town.

In only seven out of the 24 cities surveyed are a majority of voters satisfied with the performance of the mayor they elected. Voters in Kharkiv are most satisfied, with 69 percent approving of the work of Gennady Kernes, while in Kyiv only 40 percent think Mayor Vitali Klitschko is doing a good job.

Support for a city mayor was lowest in Severdonetsk, where Mayor Valantin Kazakov, elected on Nov. 17, 2015 with a 62.4 percent majority, now has an approval rating of just 14 percent.

Approval of the work of city councils is even lower. Only in Kharkiv and Lutsk did 50 percent or more approve of their performance. Those polled in Zaporizha were most dissatisfied with their city council, with 77 percent saying they were unhappy with its work.

In none of the cities did a majority of those polled think that the local authorities were open and transparent, had involved the public enough in the decision-making process, or had been responsive to citizens’ priorities.

On the plus side, most of those polled in Lviv, Ternopil, Kharkiv, Khmelnytskiy, Vinnytsya, Dnipropetrovsk and Ivano-Frankivisk think the local authorities have managed to improve the image of their city (highest majority Lviv, with 79 percent, lowest majority Ivano-Frankivisk, with 54 percent.)

But in Kherson 70 percent of those polled said the local authorities had not improved the image of their city, while in Poltava it was 68 percent.

While dissatisfaction with municipal government was spread evenly across the country, there are clear regional divisions among the public on questions of Ukraine’s future relations with the European Union and Nato, attitudes to which were also polled.

While support for joining the EU nationwide is 57 percent, support ranges from a high of 93 percent in Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine, to a low of 26 percent in Severdonetsk, in the south-eastern region of Ukraine.

Support for Ukraine joining Nato, at 44 percent nationwide, shows a similar west-east split: Support is highest in Ternopil (89 percent), Ivano-Frankivsk (85 percent) and Lviv (79 percent) — all cities in the west of the country — and lowest in Kharkiv (23 percent), Mariupol (20 percent) and Severdonetsk (18 percent) – which are all located in the south and east.

The results of the poll are to be discussed at the second annual Democratic Governance conference, which is being hosted by the International Republican Institute in Kyiv on March 31 to April 1 in the Hilton Hotel in the Ukrainian capital.

The conference, the opening of which will be attended by Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, brings together local and national government leaders, and international experts, to foster dialogue on current trends in municipal government, and its most pressing issues, according to the institute.

The Ukrainian Municipal Survey was carried out in face-to-face interviews in respondents’ homes. The margin of error of the poll does not exceed plus/minus 3.5 percent.

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