Citizen interest in elections
is on the decline in Ukraine

Regular parliamentary and presidential elections in Ukraine will be held in spring and autumn 2019. So, what should we expect from the forthcoming elections, and are Ukrainians interested?

The participation of citizens in Ukrainian public life is falling every year. Ukrainians are less and less interested in voting. Of course, from the recent revolutions and protests in the country, one can see the political consciousness of the nation awakening. But do the Ukrainian people have a good candidate?

Statistics show that 20% of Ukrainians do not want to participate in the 2019 presidential elections. But while reduced participation in European elections often means that people are satisfied with the current leadership, in Ukraine it indicates a clear protest against all candidates. Especially now, people are more interested in selecting the ballot choice: “I do not support any candidate”. But that choice was eliminated in 2012, which offended many people, because it erased their right to choose “not to choose”. Many see no decent candidates on the electoral lists. In the last elections in 2010, over one million voters voted “no choice” on the ballot.

Even in 2015, after improvements from the change in government, public surveys reported that:

73% of the Ukrainian population do not trust political parties. And only 23% answered ‘Yes” when asked “Is there a political party at present  that protects your interests?”

Only 18% believe that the activity of the parties in Ukraine adheres to democratic standards. Others believe the parties do not assert the interests of the nation, but only that of their leaders and financial and economic clans. They also do not retain the activities and programs they had promised voters. People are worried, because the political parties do not have a real connection with the citizens.

We can say with confidence that younger voters often accept the information and motivation that pre-election campaigns and activism provides, or they simply listen to their parents’ opinion. Katerina, a student at the Faculty of Law, said that although she considers elections very important, and she will certainly participate and will convince her friends to come, she is still not sure whom to support. That is why she is still going to rely on the advice of her parents in determining who to vote for.

But at the same time, young people are unfortunately also increasingly indifferent to elections.

As for the elderly, they have long-held views either for a particular candidate, or against the entire political system. Most of them voted previously for the “do not support any candidate” option, but now they ignore the election completely.

The degree of participation is a concern. In the first presidential election in 1984, 84% of the population took part. The trend in recent years has been much lower. In 2014, only 59% of the citizens voted.

And with local elections, people are almost completely disinterested.   Many do not even know the candidates who are running. Lyubov, the participant of the “Electoral Committee of Ukraine” for 10 years, said that people even do not know the elementary bases of their election legislation.

As for the coming presidential elections, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko says  he does not worry about ratings right now, and he considers his main task to be reformation of the state. Many others say that’s also their main task – which is why they’re trying to elect someone else to run Ukraine.

Margarita Aleksandrenko (Kiev, Ukraine)

* translation by Viktoria Yanchuk and Tatiana Anokhina 

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