WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Ukrainians head to the polls Sunday to take part in what U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says may be the "most important election in the history of Ukraine." One of the biggest obstacles facing them beyond the election may be the country's entrenched corruption. The majority of Ukrainians saw this corruption getting worse before the Maidan revolution in late 2013 and early 2014, and most (84%) didn't believe their government, then led by ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, was doing enough to fight it.
If the election is free and fair, it will be a step toward stability for Ukraine. With corruption present in nearly every aspect of life in the country, Ukraine's next president will be forced to deal with this issue on some level if the nation expects to integrate more with Europe and the West.
The matter is also tied to whether Ukraine receives economic aid. To satisfy one of the International Monetary Fund's conditions for a $17 billion loan to Ukraine, the interim government in April had to commit to implementing structural reforms that help reduce corruption. And, just last week, the government signed an anti-corruption initiative with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Combating corruption in Ukraine will not be an easy task, as it has become even more omnipresent in the past several years. One in three Ukrainians in 2013 said they personally found themselves in a bribe situation in the past year, up from 23% in 2009, the last full year of Viktor Yuschenko's presidency. This percentage is highest in West Ukraine, which is geographically closest to Europe, where 43% say they found themselves in such a situation. Eight in 10 Ukrainians who faced a bribe situation said they paid the bribe, and 94% who paid a bribe said the person they paid delivered on what he or she had promised.
For the most part, bribery has become a means for many Ukrainians to get what they need, from healthcare to government contracts. Of the possible bribe scenarios that Gallup asked about, Ukrainians who admit to paying bribes are most likely to say that they paid a nurse or a doctor to receive better care (83%), while more than one in four (28%) say they paid a police officer to avoid getting a ticket. Much smaller percentages say they bribed a government official to get a profitable government contract (6%), bribed someone to get their child admitted to a university (4%), bribed an official to get permission to replan their apartment (4%), or bribed a government official to avoid a tax inspection (3%).
Regardless of whether they took part in these bribes, nearly half of all Ukrainians say at least one of these types of bribery is morally acceptable.
Ukraine's next president will not only be tasked with restoring Ukrainians' confidence in their government and addressing the country's deep economic problems, but also with combating the corruption that is part of daily life in the country. Although candidates such as Petro Poroshenko have vowed to have "zero tolerance" for corruption, many of those vying for the presidency have ties to business, which has been at the root of corruption in Ukraine's government in the past. Improving Ukrainians' access to basic services such as healthcare will also have to be part and parcel of any approach to discourage graft. The lingering question is whether these candidates can leave this past behind, leading Ukraine into the future and building the democracy that so many Ukrainians find important.
For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact us.
Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in June and July 2013 in Ukraine.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3.7 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.