- Approval of president, government and most institutions reach all-time highs
- Confidence in the military is nearly universal at 94%
- Economic troubles mount; 71% see living standards getting worse
This article is the third in a series based on Gallup's surveys in Ukraine in early September.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More than six months into the war with Russia, Ukrainians are rallying around their nation's leaders and their institutions like never before.
Over eight in 10 Ukrainians (84%) surveyed in early September approved of the job that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is doing, the highest on record for him -- or any leader in Ukraine in the past decade.
Only the country's military elicits more support than the president. A nearly universal 94% of Ukrainians are confident in their armed forces.
Just a year ago, under very different circumstances, Ukrainians did not see their leaders and institutions in the same positive light. As the COVID-19 pandemic showed few signs of easing and ongoing accusations of systemic corruption continued to eat away at people's confidence, less than half as many Ukrainians expressed confidence in their national government (21%) or approved of Zelenskyy's job performance (41%) as they do now.
However, those systemic ills have not disappeared overnight since the war started: More than seven in 10 Ukrainians continue to maintain corruption is widespread in both businesses (78%) and the government (74%). The war likely is likely overshadowing even these highly salient issues.
Ukrainians Unified Across All Demographics and Regions
Ukrainians of all backgrounds have rallied behind their leaders as their country has come under attack. This unity is evident across all regions and demographic groups of Ukrainians, with the youngest adults most likely to express confidence. Ninety-one percent of 15- to 34-year-olds approved of the president's performance, while 79% of those 55 and older did.
Geographically, Zelenskyy's approval is the highest in Central and West Ukraine (91% and 89%, respectively), and it is lowest in the East but still at an unprecedented 78%.
Ukrainians Show Faith in Leadership as Economy Falters
Although the war with Russia has dealt a serious blow to their economy, with the IMF estimating that the country's GDP will shrink 35% this year, these troubles have not significantly dampened Ukrainians' confidence in their leaders. At the time of Gallup's survey in September, 71% said their standard of living was getting worse, up 21 percentage points since last year.
However, 80% of those saying their living standards were getting worse still approved of their president. A majority also had confidence in the national government.
The alignment of economic worries and political views was much stronger before the war -- 61% of those who perceived their living standard as "getting better" approved of the president's performance in 2021, while only 27% of those who said their standard of living is "getting worse" felt the same.
Judiciary and Financial System Also Get a Boost
While the rally effect in the face of an existential external threat to their nation is most pronounced in support for the executive and military branches, all institutions and systems saw a boost of confidence after the war began. Confidence in the country's judicial system, honesty of elections and freedom of the media is at all-time highs after sharp spikes since last year.
Similarly, Ukrainians are satisfied with their financial system, which has so far appeared resilient in the face of war disruptions. Nearly six in 10 people have confidence in their country's financial institutions.
When faced with a severe threat to national integrity, history shows a nation's people tend to rally together and set aside most preexisting internal divisions. Ukrainians are overwhelmingly united in support of their leaders and the young institutions of democracy that its citizens are fighting to protect. Blame for daily physical and economic hardships is largely attributed to external forces, in stark contrast to prior years.
Renewed Russian strikes on energy infrastructure may continue to test this resolve over the next months, but at present, wartime disruptions to normal life and growing concerns with the coming winter have not created a rift in people's unity and clarity of opinion.
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