Kyiv, Ukraine – Though responsive governance has long been a challenge for Ukraine, a new survey by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research and USAID Democratic Governance East Activity (DG East) shows local governments increasing in popularity across Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. From August to October 2020, IRI polled Ukrainians in the government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk to understand the impact and perception of recent reforms. The survey ultimately found relatively high levels of support for both local governments and their reform agendas, but persisting anxiety over governance at the national level. These findings support the continual importance of IRI’s and DG East’s work in the region to strengthen trust between citizens and government officials.  

According to the poll, Ukrainian respondents view local government as more efficient and effective than national government, with improvements to infrastructure being the most popular reform implemented by local officials. When evaluating whether respondents experienced any results from the reforms, 50 percent of citizens from Donetsk and 47 percent from Luhansk answered they felt some level of positive results. Fifty-five percent of Donetsk respondents and 38 percent of Luhansk respondents viewed infrastructure reforms as either “very” of “somewhat” successful.

Ukrainians in the surveyed regions were generally more inclined to have a positive outlook of their rayon (administrative district) than their country: 51 percent of citizens in Donetsk and 32 percent in Luhansk believe their rayon is moving in the right direction. This perspective was also broadly reflected at the city level, with 74 percent of Mariupol residents reporting their rayon is headed in the right direction. In contrast, only 23 percent of respondents in Donetsk and 28 percent of those in Luhansk believe Ukraine is generally moving in the right direction.   

Infrastructure reforms have garnered more support on the local level as well. Also, language, law enforcement and decentralization reforms are perceived positively by 27 to 40 percent of the population in each oblast. The reforms that received the lowest approval ratings – such as those pertaining to anti-corruption, judicial reform, and healthcare – are among the reforms identified by Ukrainian respondents as priority areas for the national government.  


This survey was conducted on behalf of IRI’s Center for Insights in Survey Research by Info Sapiens between August 27 and October 2, 2020. Data was collected through computer-assisted telephone and personal interviews. The oblast-level sample consisted of n=1,666 permanent residents aged 16 years and older and the city level sample consisted of n=3,098. The margin of error does not exceed plus or minus 3.3 percent for each oblast and plus or minus 6.9 percent for each city. The response rate  averaged  5 percent for the oblast-level sample and 7 percent for the city-level sample. While this response rate is lower than IRI’s standard requirements, additional data vetting did not reveal any particular bias associated with the low response rate. This survey was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

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