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Ukrainians Approve of New President
World

Ukrainians Approve of New President

by Neli Esipova and Julie Ray
Ukrainians Approve of New President

Story Highlights

  • Half of Ukrainians approve of job Poroshenko is doing
  • Yanukovych left office with 28% approval
  • New government has a long way to go

This article is the fourth in a weeklong series focusing on the most recent public opinion research data available from Ukraine.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- There are signs that Ukraine's new president, Petro Poroshenko, is helping to restore the trust that was sorely lacking in the country's leadership before the revolution earlier this year. Nearly half of Ukrainians (47%) approve of the job that Poroshenko has been doing since winning the presidency in May -- a vast improvement over the 28% who approved of his predecessor Viktor Yanukovych's job performance before he was ousted.

Ukraine map

Gallup's interviews in Ukraine this year took place in September and October, following a cease-fire between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists in the country's East and before the snap parliamentary elections on Oct. 26. Gallup's polls in 2014 excluded the Crimea region, which is currently considered occupied territory, and some areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions where security was an issue. The excluded areas account for approximately 10% to 13% of Ukraine's adult population.

Poroshenko has not won over all Ukrainians, however, underscoring the divisions that threaten to tear Ukraine apart. While highly popular in the Central and North region (which includes Kiev) and in the West, the new president has earned few fans in the Russian-leaning South and East, where only 29% approve of the job he is doing. But the more pro-Moscow Yanukovych was not popular here either before his departure; 35% of Ukrainians in the South and East region approved of his job performance.

The president's strongest support comes from Ukrainians who are more likely to be inclined toward the West -- young Ukrainians, those with the most education, and those who are living comfortably on their current incomes. Poroshenko's challenge will be in appealing to those who are older and poorer -- and are more likely to be more familiar with the old Soviet system and Russia.

Trust in National Government Up Slightly Before Parliamentary Elections

Ukrainians' confidence in their national government as a whole did not improve nearly as much over the same period, rising from 19% to 24%. But Poroshenko's relatively high approval and the national government's relatively low approval helps explain why Poroshenko's bloc was able to win the most seats in the parliamentary elections that took place a week after Gallup's survey ended.

Confidence in National Government Up Slightly

Confidence was showing signs of improvement in the West and in the Central and North regions, but it was not changing at all in the South and East -- further suggesting that people in this region were seeing little difference in their leadership before and after the revolution earlier this year.

Confidence in Honesty of Elections Also Up Slightly

While the majority of Ukrainians approved of early parliamentary elections as a way to stabilize their country, only about one in four (26%) expressed confidence in the honesty of elections before they took place on Oct. 26. This was up slightly from the year before, when 19% expressed confidence.

Confidence in Elections Improving

Again, confidence in the honesty of elections was showing signs of improvement in the West and in the Central and North regions, but it was not changing at all in the South and East. Further, residents in the South and East remained extremely skeptical, with still only 17% expressing confidence in the process.

Ukrainians Divided on Country's Direction

Although confidence was improving at the time of the survey, Ukraine's new government and its new president clearly have a long way to go to prove their worth to Ukrainians. Slightly more than one in three Ukrainians (37%) say their leadership is leading the country in the right direction -- but this too is up from 26% the year before.

More Ukrainians See Country Headed in Right Direction

In the West and the Central and North regions, the percentage saying the country's leadership is headed in the right direction has about doubled since 2013. Not surprisingly, in the South and East there has been no change. Only 23% in the South and East say Ukraine's leadership is taking the country in the right direction, while 59% say it is headed in the wrong direction.

Implications

Poroshenko's relatively high approval and the national government's relatively low approval might be one of the reasons why his party was able to win the most seats in the recent parliamentary elections. Ukrainians may have more confidence in this new leadership combination than they have in the past, but building and maintaining this confidence will still be a monumental task. Yanukovych too had high leadership approval at the start of his presidency, only to see it fall off quickly when he did not live up to Ukrainians' expectations.

The greatest challenge for the country's new leadership will be in convincing all Ukrainians -- particularly older and poorer residents and those in the South and East -- that they are headed in the right direction.

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in Sept. 11-Oct. 17, 2014, in Ukraine. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3.8 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Gallup's polls in Ukraine in 2014 excluded the Crimea region, which is currently considered occupied territory, and some areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts where security was an issue. The excluded areas account for approximately 10% to 13% of Ukraine's adult population.

For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

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