Ukrainians unhappier than ever before

Gallup published a new poll today, measuring Ukrainians’ ‘life ratings’. This follows a survey of Ukrainian political opinion issued in late December. One caveat is necessary. Although Gallup has only just issued these results, it carried out the actual surveys in July and August of last year. The results are therefore rather out of date. Nevertheless, they are interesting. According to Gallup:

Conflict-weary Ukrainians gave their lives in 2015 the worst ratings that Gallup has measured yet in that country. On a ladder scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10, with 10 being the best possible life, Ukrainians on average rate their current lives at a 4.0. Ukrainians’ optimism about the future also dimmed last year, with their ratings of their lives in five years sinking to a new low of 5.2.


Gallup considers anybody who rates his or her life at 7.0 or higher to be ‘thriving’, and anybody who rates it at 4 or below to be ‘suffering’. Since 2012, the percentage of the Ukrainian population in the first category has halved, while the percentage in the second category has risen by about 50%.


Gallup notes that the ‘life ratings have dropped among residents from all age groups, education levels and genders’. Also, ‘The percentage of residents who report being satisfied with their standard of living has dropped from 27% to 17% over the past year, while the percentage of Ukrainians who view the country’s economic situation as “poor” jumped from 62% in 2014 to 79% in 2015.’

These negative figures correlate with dissatisfaction with the political authorities. On 23 December Gallup published another poll indicating that President Petro Poroshenko’s approval rating had fallen to 17%, and that only 8% of Ukrainians had confidence in their government. Support for Poroshenko was greatest in the west of the country. Not coincidentally, this is also the region where people rate their lives the highest. By contrast, southern Ukrainians rate their lives more poorly than any of their compatriots and at the time of the survey only 7% of them supported their president.

Support for President Poroshenko (Gallup).
Support for President Poroshenko (Gallup).


8 thoughts on “Ukrainians unhappier than ever before”

  1. There are two critical differences:

    (1) Poroshenko’s “hatred rating” is almost certainly lower than Yanukovych’s in 2013 – most critically, in Kiev itself (which as Euromaidan ultimately showed is really the only part of the country that matters).

    (2) Even more importantly, the Ukrainian oligarchy is by and large on Poroshenko’s side. Kolomoysky is actually the exception that proves the rule – cut down to size for his insolence, and expressly warned by Joe Biden not to upset things any further. In contrast, once protests against Yanukovych got going, the oligarchs must have been pressed by the US and Co. to either support them or at least maintain studied neutrality if they ever cared to shop in London, ski in Courchevel, and access their Swiss bank accounts ever again. Would they ever do such a thing in relation to Poroshenko’s regime under any halfway conceivable scenario? To ask the question is to answer it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe you are right: those who supported Maidan have made their choice and have to stick with it. There can be no turning back, and no second Maidan. A slight economic improvement in 2016 should allow the government to muddle through. The mass discontent has no credible channels through which to exercise decisive change at this point.


    2. Two other important points:

      1. There was a (realistic) feeling that the legal rules were fixed such that there was no chance of removing Yanukovich through elections. There is no sense now that Poroshenko is some sort of dictator that can only be removed by mass protests and revolts.

      2. The Eurasian Customs Union vs. EU and then the anti-protest laws produced a feeling of desperation by protesters representing a majority of the people of Kiev and western Ukraine that their country was reaching a point of no return. This makes people desperate and likely to act. Currently, people dislike Poroshenko because they feel he hasn’t implemented enough reforms, failed cleaned up corruption, hasn’t sold his companies as he promised, etc. But he is taking Ukraine towards the EU, which is what they want and his policies are not making people desperate to remove him.


      1. “There was a (realistic) feeling”

        There was nothing realistic about that.
        Yanuk did accept defeat in an earlier presidential election.

        “…his policies are not making people desperate to remove him.”

        Or maybe because Ukraine moved beyond the point of no return by destroying options and leverage.
        Removing him won’t end oligarch rule.


  2. Something to keep in mind with comparisons between an Eastern Ukrainian political leader and a western/central Ukrainian political leader is that the former has had a more unified base and thus a lower floor of support, while the latter has comes from a region with much more political diversity and more options. Thus, when Yanukovich dipped into the 20s in terms of support this was a serious crisis for Eastern politics; Poroshenko going lower than that is not as serious of a problem. It means political forces generally allied to Poroshenko or who do not have policies substantially different from his have eaten away at his popularity.


  3. The people who overthrow the Poroshenko government will be those who have nothing left to lose, and who are therefore careless of their fate. Ukraine is not there yet. It may not be, especially as Poroshenko still has most of the hard boys on his side, because the last thing they want is a return to government which maintains good relations with Russia. So Ukraine will have to stagger on yet awhile, living on handouts and crumbs from the EU’s table. But unless it develops lucrative new markets in which to sell its goods, it is stuck with a lifestyle in which it buys goods from the EU with money given to it for that purpose, and sells more or less nothing. Western companies could come in to invest and rejig industry so Ukraine makes goods salable in the EU, but the country is still extremely corrupt and they fear anemic profits due to corruption or loss of their investment altogether – for all its puffing and blowing, Ukraine has made no meaningful progress against corruption, and its oligarchy still controls a disproportionate share of its GDP, although the optimistic west would term it “privatization”.

    However, no matter how you look at it, it must be acknowledged that Ukraine in its present state as well as its forecast future state is providing no incentive whatsoever for its breakaway regions to consider rejoining, while its performance is encouraging more such desertions.


  4. The Poroshenko government is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Washington politburo. Therefore it can never be overthrown, without politburo’s consent.

    Neither one of the two Ukrainian maidans was anywhere close to a spontaneous protest/uprising; people just don’t sit on the central square for months on end, not without expensive, complicated organizational support and logistics. And currently, anyone even just suspected of trying to organize anything on this scale would be bought, or arrested, or disappeared.

    So, the fate of this territory will have to be worked out between the West and Russia. And for as long as the West is willing to spend $7-10-12 billion/year on making troubles for Russia, it’ll continue. And that’s not a lot of money, especially when you can print as much as you need.

    On the other hand, this seems to be only making Russia stronger, the “rally ’round the flag” effect. So, the west might keep doing it for a while, see where it goes, if there are any cracks, and then quit. And then it’ll get really interesting.


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