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Research from Four Cities in Ukraine Highlights Importance of Decentralization

November 8, 2019

Washington, D.C.— In May and August 2019, the International Republican Institute (IRI) conducted two waves of polls in Bilhorod-DnistrovskyiChernihivUzhhorod and Zaporizhzhia which illustrate the differing priorities and high expectations that citizens have for local governments. The data is available here in Ukrainian: Bilhorod-DnistrovskyiChernihivUzhhorod and Zaporizhzhia 

For the past three years, Ukraine has pursued a policy of decentralization that aims to support local governments to effectively respond to citizen needs. In support of this goal, the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research (CISR) polling provides local government officials, political parties and active citizens with information on the needs and priorities of their residents 

Among the four communities polled, Chernihiv distinguishes itself as having the highest levels of optimism about the direction of their city. According to the poll, 80 percent of respondents surveyed in August in Chernihiv believe that their city is heading in the right direction, while 31 percent in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, 41 percent in Uzhhorod, and 44 percent in Zaporizhzhia said that things were headed in the right direction. This high level of optimism in Chernihiv may be linked to the high level of popularity of the city’s charismatic mayor.  

The August poll also surveyed levels of citizen engagement in the four cities. Thirty-four percent of those surveyed in Chernihiv reported that they had taken part in solving problems in the past year. The percentage of respondents in the three other cities who reported that they had engaged in solving problems was lower with Zaporizhzhia at 20 percent, Uzhhorod at 23 percent, and Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi at 21 percent. 

Residents in all four cities expressed a willingness to participate in local elections that were rumored to take place in October 2019. Local elections are currently scheduled for October 2020, but the high percentage of respondent across all four cities who expressed a willingness to take part in a potential vote demonstrates their continuing commitment to bring about change through the ballot box. 

There are also variations in how residents order their priorities. While there are broad similarities across the four citiesUzhhorod residents identify municipal infrastructure (such as roads and sidewalks) and garbage collection as key areas that need increased attention from local governmentIn contrast, residents of Chernihiv identify medical institutions as needing to be prioritized by local authoritiesResidents of other cities, to varying degrees, identify the development of health institutions, schools, housing and public transportation as being of key importance. These differing priorities point to the need for localized initiatives to respond to citizen priorities. 

IRI has worked in Ukraine since 1994 and has helped to develop effective, citizen-responsive government, trained tens of thousands of political party members and civil society activists, and supported the participation of underrepresented groups, such as women and youth, in the political process.  

 

Methodology  

These polls were conducted by Rating Group Ukraine, on behalf of the Center for Insights in Survey Research, in four Ukrainian cities - Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Chernihiv, Uzhhorod, and Zaporizhzhia though face-to-face interviews at respondents’ homes. 

The samples for both waves of polling consisted of 1,200 residents of Chernihiv, Uzhhorod, Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, and Chernihiv aged 18 and older and eligible to vote. Samples are representative of the general population of each city by gender and age. In Zaporizhzhia, the response rates for the polls were 61.4 percent for wave 1 and 60.5 percent for wave 2. In Uzhhorod, response rates were 65.3 percent for wave 1 and 62.5 percent for wave 2IBilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, response rates were 60.7 percent for wave 1 and 59.8 percent for wave 2. In Chernihiv, response rates were 63.6 percent for wave 1 and 62.2 percent for wave 2. The margin of error for each poll does not exceed ±2.8 points for the full city samples.   

This survey is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.