Presidential approval rating in Ukraine

Petro Poroshenko was elected president of Ukraine exactly 10 months ago on 25 May 2014, winning the election in the first round with 54.7% of the vote. Today, exactly 10 months after the election, how well is the President doing in the eyes of the Ukrainian citizens?

Marketing and social research firm Research & Branding Group conducted a public opinion poll in Ukraine between March 6 and 16, 2015. According to the results, the president has the highest approval rating compared to the Prime Minister and the Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada). 33% of the respondents approve of the actions of the president compared with only 24% approval rating of the Prime Minister and 23% of the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada.

Source: Research & Branding Group

Source: Research & Branding Group

If a presidential election were held today though, only 19.2% of the respondents would vote for the current president. Even though the number is quite low, it is nonetheless well ahead of other politicians and with many voters still undecided. 23.9% of respondents had trouble answering this question whereas over 20% had no intention to vote at all.

If Ukraine was facing a parliamentary election today, 13.2% of the respondent would vote for the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko, party of the sitting president and only 2.5% for the People’s Front, the party of the current Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Overall, Ukrainians seem to have a very low level of trust in political parties. The poll showed that 81% of the respondents do not trust political parties and only 8% said that they do.

These numbers are no different from the relatively low approval ratings of other Ukrainian presidents. For instance, at the end of his first 10 months, Viktor Yushchenko’s approval rating was also at 33%. However, it quickly plummeted after that, falling to as low as 4% by the end of his term in December 2009. [1]

Given that Ukraine is currently facing a number of serious problems including a collapsing economy and growing security concerns, what do these numbers say about the president’s performance in these areas?

Economic voting literature finds that, where institutions divide authority, citizens may view responsibility for economic policies as being shared between the president and the prime minister; they thus will find it difficult to assign responsibility for economic outcomes to a particular actor. [2] However, when it comes to the question of national security, a recently published article in Comparative Political Studies argues that citizens will attribute responsibility for the failure in security policy primarily to the president. Therefore, although Ukrainian citizens may not hold the president directly accountable for economic woes in the country, we can expect his approval rating to heavily depend on his ability to successfully solve the on-going conflict in the East of Ukraine.

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[1] The respondents were asked if they supported the activities of Viktor Yushchenko, with possible answers: full support, support certain actions, and do not support. This wording is a bit different from the question asked by the Research and Branding Group. For more, please see Razumkov Centre.

[2] Samuels, David. 2004. “Presidentialism and accountability for the economy in comparative perspective,” American Political Science Review 98 (3): 425–436; Samuels, David and Timothy Hellwig. 2007. “Electoral accountability and the variety of democratic regimes.” British Journal of Political Science 37: 1–26.

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