Do It for Me: Ukrainians Are Willing to Self-Organize, but Vest Responsibility for Their Well-Being in the State

These are the findings of the recent wave of the USAID/ENGAGE Civic Engagement Poll revealing that despite stable levels of civic activism and willingness to unite for a specific cause, Ukrainians believe the authorities should take care of the well-being of citizens.

Ukrainians remain well aware of the ways they can engage in the lives of their communities. Participation in a peaceful assembly for a specific cause (74.6%), creation of a housing, street, or block committee or participation in their activities (70.6%), and reporting on infrastructure issues to the local administration are on top of the list.

The majority of the respondents are also aware of participating in the activities of political parties (65.9%), reporting on corruption cases to the Prosecutor’s office or the police (63.3%), submitting formal information requests to the state bodies (60.4%), and initiating and signing e-petitions to both local and state authorities (59.1%)

However, the actual participation in these civic activities lags wildly behind. Only 6.8% reported joining a peaceful assembly, while 8% of Ukrainians were engaged in the creation of a housing, street or a block committee, and 8.1% reporting on damaged infrastructure personally, by phone, or via online platforms.

Yet, Ukrainians care more about participating in the lives of their communities – one-third (33%) report doing so, with 7.4% of the respondents attending meetings and other public events for their house, a street, or a district on a regular basis. At the same time, the other two-thirds claimed that they do not have either time (33.3%) or interest (31.7%) to participate.

Participation in CSO activities is Greek to the overwhelming majority of Ukrainians. Only 4% of respondents admitted that they had actively participated in CSO activities during the previous 12 months with 13% who claim rare participation. Just as with the engagement in community life, lack of time (38.3%) and interest (42.7%) are the main obstacles to engage in CSO activities.

Nevertheless, Ukrainians can unite and take care of themselves without top-down direction. Among the main activities to self-organize respondents named revitalizing of a home territory (48.7%) or a local park (26.4%), as well as organizing leisure activities (25.8%).

Ukrainians Feel the Downtempo Beat of Reforms

Roughly half of the Ukrainians (46.7%) continue considering corruption the most important issue for the state. Poverty (41%), crisis in Donbas (32.7%), and unemployment (32.4%) are other big problems Ukraine is facing, according to respondents. On a personal level, Ukrainians take a different perspective: respondents identify poverty (47.7%), unemployment (35%) and access to healthcare (34.2%) as most important issues for them and their families.

Almost a half of the respondents (52%) indicated that they have already experienced the consequences of reforms, but the attitudes towards them are mostly negative. Only 1% of Ukrainian citizens feel positive consequences of reforms. 23.6% claim to have experienced both positive and negative results of reforms while a share of those who had only negative experience is 28.4%.

Generally, Ukrainians do not see the fruits of reforms any time soon: almost every third (27.3%) citizen experiences difficulty to predict their expectations, while about every sixth citizen (16.7%) expects the impact of reforms to occur within two-three years.

Citizens believe that the first signs of the irreversibility of reforms are the increase of their families’ income (55.6%), positive growth of the economy (49%), or ability to receive quality services from the state (37.2%).

Long Goodbyes: Ukrainians Striking a Balance Between Post-Soviet and Free Market Values

According to the majority of the respondents, the most important characteristics of a good citizens include: being fully aware of rights and able to defend them (91.7%), always observe rules and abide laws (92.0%) and having good knowledge of the history of own country (89%). Ukrainians also believe that staying at home when sick (89.8%) and reporting known cases of corruption and other violations (69.4%) are important behaviors emblematic for conscious citizens. Active participation in CSOs and initiatives is considered important by 59.7% of respondents.

Most of Ukrainians (62.3%) believe that their health entirely depends on their efforts. However, over one-third of the population thinks the state should take some effort to provide education (38.2%) well-being (45.8%), children’s education (49.1%), or employment (45.5%) for the citizens.  

Meanwhile, respondents are underwhelmed by the people in power. 87.2% agree that they do not care about the population. 83.6% believe that their opinion does not matter to the authorities and it is not in their power to influence what happens in the country (79.9%). 84.9% agree that once the higher echelons of power are reached, a person will use his or her status for personal enrichment. When it comes to political choices, 72% of Ukrainians think there is no real political elite in Ukraine to choose from while 67.8% want a strong leader in power.

Despite a strong paternalistic stance, Ukrainians aspire for greater freedom and the rule of law. 59.1% are not ready to sacrifice freedom for a greater security. Half of the respondents (49.1%) agree that we should follow rules and laws even in the most difficult situations. 55.4% favor competition because it stimulates people to work harder and develop new ideas. While 24.7% agree that earnings should be equal, in the eyes of 53.9% of the respondents differences in income are needed to stimulate personal efforts.

But even here there are paradoxical beliefs. Half of the respondents (51,9%) agree that success depends on luck and connections rather than hard work. 33.8% believe that some people can become richer only at the expense of others with the opposing 43.2% who are sure that social wealth can eventually suffice for everyone.

Distrust overcasts the collective efforts of Ukrainians. Half of the respondents (50.5%) agree that other people cannot be trusted. The opinion that everyone should take care of mutual interests is shared only by 32.8% of Ukrainians with 39.6% convinced in the primacy of their personal interests.

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This survey summary was prepared by Pact as part of the USAID/ENGAGE activity, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this survey summary are the sole responsibility of Pact and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

About the CEP

The Civic Engagement Poll is conducted under the framework of the Enhance Non-Governmental Actors and Grassroots Engagement activity (USAID/ENGAGE), implemented by Pact. This report summarizes key takeaways from the poll, drawing from survey data collected in the winter of 2021.

The survey gauges citizen awareness of and engagement in civil society activities, and citizens’ participation in and perception of reform processes in Ukraine. During the most recent survey, respondents were also asked questions that measure their values, convictions and attitudes to life.

The data collection for the USAID/ENGAGE Civic Engagement Poll was conducted by the research agency Info Sapiens, during December of 2020 and January of 2021. Field interviews were conducted with Ukrainian residents aged 18 years and older, face-to-face, in the respondents’ homes. The survey sampled 2,040 respondents and was designed in accordance with the distribution of the adult population of Ukraine by age, sex, oblast, and settlement type according to the data of the State Statistics Service of Ukraine as of January 1, 2019 (excluding Crimea and non-governmental controlled regions of the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts). The margin of error of the sample is 2.2% (excluding the design effect).

Find more results from the Civic Engagement Poll:

Summer 2020     Winter 2020   Summer 2019     Winter 2019    Summer 2018    Winter 2018    Autumn 2017  

You can download survey data and charts here.

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