Some fairly random Ukraine stats to start the week

Some fairly random Ukraine stats to start the week

I’ve had some of this data kicking around for a few days, in some cases a few weeks. Enjoy.

Ukraine’s optimists

In the May 2016 wave of the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology’s Omnibus (the most recent publicly-available wave), respondents were asked (KIIS’ translation from Ukrainian/Russian versions):

If to speak about Ukraine in general, how do you think, in one year from now the situation in Ukraine will be better or worse than now? 

  • Only 10.6% of Ukrainians think things will be better; 31.3% think it’ll be the same and 47.5% think it’ll be worse.
  • People who think Ukraine will be better were more likely to say they’d vote for Bloc Petro Poroshenko (14.5% compared to 7.1% who said the situation will be the same and 3.2% who said it’ll be worse) and Samopomich (8.8% compared to 4.4% who said the situation will be the same and 3.2% who said it’ll be worse).
  • Conversely, people who think the situation in Ukraine will be worse were more likely to say they’d vote for the Opposition Bloc (9.1% of those who said the situation’ll be worse, compared to 3.7% who said it’ll be the same and a whopping 0.9% [!!] who said it’ll be better).
  • People who think the situation in Ukraine will be worse are less likely to say they’ll vote (28.1% compared to 21.0% same and 13.4% better).
  • Young Ukrainians (18 to 29 years old) are more likely than older Ukrainians (13.9%, compared to 8.0% of 60 to 69 year olds and 8.6% of those aged 70+) to think the country will be better.

The sausage fest on the far right

  • In the same May 2016 Omnibus just 2.9% of women said they’d vote for a far right party (i.e., Svoboda, Pravyi Sektor or Yarosh’s national whatever), compared to 6.9% of men (4.7% overall). Even with such a relatively small sample size for far-right supporters, this is a statistically significant relationship.
  • Same goes for the February 2016 Omnibus, when 2.8% of women and 5.3% of men would vote for a far-right party (3.9% overall)
  • The May survey also asked a number of questions about which social issues troubled people the most, asking respondents to choose the top three from a list. “Revival of the Ukrainian nation” was chosen by 4.2% of people –5.2% of men and 3.4% of women.
    • No, that’s not a huge difference (a Cramér’s V of .05 for anyone who cares) but it’s still a big enough one to be statistically significant.
    • Relevant/unsurprising too: 13.9% of supporters of far-right parties chose “revival of the Ukrainian nation” in their top three compared to 4.2% of all Ukrainians….

Undecideds…

  • Women were more likely than men (27.9% compared to 21.5% in May 2016; 27.7% compared to 20.3% in February 2016) to say they were undecided, that they didn’t know who they were going to vote for.
    • There’s a separate post or article or two buried just in those numbers and others like it. Interpretations and perspectives more than welcomed, particularly from members of the human race who are a) Ukrainian and b) not men.

Depression in Ukraine

Lastly, some data from the 2012 European Social Survey (ESS), the last wave Ukraine took part in. Despite the name, fieldwork actually took place in July and August 2013 for anyone keen to place this data within a very specific pre-Maidan time frame.

This wave of the ESS used a shortened version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale – a higher score on the index means you show more depressive symptoms.

Graphs.

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Ukraine’s depression score was third highest out of all countries surveyed – and Ukrainian women had higher depression scores than Ukrainian men (8.14 compared to 7.12)
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As in all ESS countries, depression scores were markedly different between younger and older respondents, but the difference was much starker in Ukraine

Comments, interpretations and questions welcome.

(new) party night in Ukraine

(new) party night in Ukraine

Yes, there’s yet another new party on Ukraine’s political scene – Azov’s new National Corps Party.

Friday they held their founding congress where, among other things, they agreed on policies to expand presidential powers, sever ties with Russia, expand the right to bear arms and  “[restore] the death penalty…for treason and the embezzlement of government funds by officials in excessive amounts” (uhh wut), capping off the day with a torchlit march through central Kyiv.

If they’re really, properly serious about becoming an electoral force (which is doubtful when their new leader says things like “[there] are several ways of coming to power, but we are trying something through elections, but we have all sorts of possibilities”[my emphasis]), they’re stepping into a crowded and not-particularly-profitable far-right marketplace.

Just look at recent KIIS poll numbers for the far-right/nationalist parties, below, shaded in boring grey (and that, as I’ve noted before, are far below those for other European far-right parties).

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This isn’t even including the OUN, who polled a whopping 0.3% on a different firm’s poll a few weeks ago.

It’s the same story across all the polls over the last year – there’s “an already fragmented radical electorate,” and one that, even hypothetically (i.e., impossibly) combined, can barely toe past Ukraine’s 5 percent electoral threshold. And now this National Corps wants to squeeze itself in? Bonne chance, gentlemen. They might be able to fare better than some of their comrades in the short term – I predict they’ll poll reasonably well in the first few polls they show up in – but I imagine they’ll find their <5% ceiling in due course.

Yes, I’m far from Kyiv right now and have more familiarity with a bunch of numbers than anyone on the ground there more up to speed with the ins and outs of Ukraine’s factionalist far-right. Still, I don’t think this has much to do with proper, democratic party politics. To me this move seems to be about little more than trying to lend a veneer of legitimacy to a very small minority of football hooligans and hardcore hangers-on — a minority who remind me more and more of a gaggle of wannabe Montagnards than a genuine political party.

Separatism in Ukraine, by the (small) numbers

Separatism in Ukraine, by the (small) numbers

I found some interesting numbers in one of the past waves of the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) Omnibus survey.

In the September 2015 wave (specifically from September 9 to September 24, for anyone wanting that level of detail), KIIS asked more than 2,000 Ukrainians in face-to-face interviews:

  • Would you like to see your oblast secede from Ukraine and become an independent state?
  • Would you like to see your oblast secede from Ukraine and join another state?

KIIS interviewed in all Ukrainian-government controlled areas of Ukraine; they didn’t interview in Crimea or in the “LNR,” though they did interview in the “DNR” (they no longer do). For the overall Ukraine and regional numbers I’m only including Ukrainian government-controlled areas – I talk about the “DNR” numbers towards the end of this piece.

The resounding answer to both these questions? No – fewer than 2% of Ukrainians are interested in their oblast seceding and becoming an independent state or joining another state.

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Well then.

The regional splits are pretty interesting, with western Ukrainians leading the very-small-number separatist brigade (4% for both questions) and eastern Ukrainians at the head of the slightly-larger-but-still-not-very-big crew of those who are ambivalent about separatism (11% for both questions). Boring graphs below.

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I’ll draw your attention to the fact that the overwhelming majority of people in eastern Ukraine (that is, Kharkiv oblast and the Ukrainian government-controlled parts of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts) state that they don’t want their oblast to secede and become either an independent state (88%) or join another state (85%).

Looking at some of the numbers by oblast is more striking, even when taking the small sample sizes into consideration.

Re: becoming an independent state:

  • Just under 9% of people in Zakarpattia (far western Ukraine, bordering Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania) said they’d like to see their oblast secede from Ukraine and become an independent state – the most of any oblast. There isn’t a particularly large sample size here but given what I know about the history, politics and demographics of Zakarpattia I’m not surprised to see higher than other oblasts.
  • Only 3% of people in Odessa oblast and in both Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts (reminder, only the Ukrainian government-controlled parts) said they’d like to see their oblast secede from Ukraine and become an independent state.
  • Exactly 0.00% of people in Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Zaporizhia and Sumy oblasts said they wanted to see their oblast become an independent state. Anyone wondering about the digits past the first two decimal points there should be advised it’s an infinite string of zeroes.

Re: joining another state:

  • Like above, just under 12% of people in Zakarpattia said they’d like to see their oblast secede from Ukraine and join another state. Again, the most of any oblast and not surprising.
  • Just over 6% of people in Donetsk oblast and 5% in Luhansk oblast (again, only the Ukrainian government-controlled parts) said they’d like to secede from Ukraine and join another state. Remember, the other parts of these oblasts are occupied by ostensibly separatist statelets…
  • More than 3% of people in Zaporizhia oblast, less than one percent of people in Dnipro and Kharkiv oblasts and a round 0.00% of people in Chernihiv and Sumy oblasts said they wanted to see their oblast join another state.

But what of separatism in the apparently separatist “DNR”? As I pointed out a few months ago, polling and surveying in a place the “DNR” can’t possibly be easy. I can only imagine how bad social desirability bias (“the tendency of [respondents] to give socially desirable responses instead of choosing responses that are reflective of their true feelings”) might be in an globally-unrecognized puppet state with a laundry list of human rights abuses to its name. It’s likely one of the main reasons no one, as far as I know, tries to do surveys there anymore.

So what did people in the “DNR” have to say about separatism compared to their Ukrainian government-controlled Donetsk oblast brethren across the “ceasefire” line?

As you can see below, the numbers are pretty different; they suggest a plurality in the “DNR” is in favour of becoming an independent state, but are equally split when it comes to joining another state (can’t imagine what other state they were thinking of).

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Even if – if ­– these numbers actually reflect how residents of the “DNR” feel, it’s far from a ringing endorsement of separatism, especially when you consider the level of Ukraine-crucifies-children-level propaganda people there have been hit with over the past two years. And the same percentages of people say yes and no when they’re asked if they want to secede from Ukraine and join another state? Hardly confident numbers for an entity that already considers itself a “separatist” state.

Of course, this all assumes that there are next to no issues with social desirability bias there at all, that respondents definitely wouldn’t feel pressured to say certain things to a stranger in a fiefdom where they could be thrown “in the cellar” for being critical of the regime. OK.

Looking for a popular secessionist movement? You’re better off coming to see me than going to Ukraine.

September 2016 poll: Party preferences in Ukraine

September 2016 poll: Party preferences in Ukraine

The Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) released results from a new poll this week (link in Ukrainian).

They talked to 2,040 people between September 16 and 26, 2016 across Ukraine except for a) Crimea and b) areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts not controlled by the Ukrainian government (i.e., the useless-passport-offering “LNR”/”DNR”).

KIIS’ key findings, in brief:

  • Over the past six months support for Batkivshchyna has declined slightly, while support for Bloc Petro Poroshenko has increased slightly.
  • Support for the Opposition Bloc, Samopomich, Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party and Hromadyanska Posytsia has remained largely the same.

KIIS’ data over time is below. If you have some moral objection to the quality of my jpeg you can go look at the original link.

party-ratings-over-time

Keep in mind this table above only includes Ukrainians who a) said they’d vote and b) knew who they were going to vote for – which is only 41% of people who actually took part in the survey. The table below includes regional breakdowns as well as figures for non-voters, undecided voters and those pesky ballot spoilers (though no Ukrainian Edible Ballot Society yet).

A few thoughts and speculations of mine from across the sea. Comments and whatnot welcome.

What of Batkivshchyna and Bloc Petro Poroshenko?

The numbers for Batkivshchyna and Bloc Petro Poroshenko in this poll are a bit different from Rating’s poll that I talked about in August, despite fieldwork only being about a month apart.

  • Batkivshchyna’s 15.4% here versus 18.3% in Rating’s poll (2.9% difference)
  • Bloc Petro Poroshenko’s 14.5% here versus 9.1% in Rating’s poll (5.4% difference)

The other parties over 5% here (Opposition Bloc, Samopomich, Radical Party and Hromadyanska Posytsia) are largely the same. As for Za Zhyttia I’ve just learned they came out of the Opposition Bloc in May.

But why the difference for Batkivshchyna/Bloc Petro Poroshenko? The “difficult to answer” might have something to do with this – 31.1% (!!) of people in this poll said they didn’t know who they were going to vote for, compared to 16.3% in Rating’s poll. (I go on at length about this below)

That’s….a big difference, so big it makes me think something’s up methodologically here. Are interviewers from these different firms following up with people who immediately respond “don’t know” in the same way? For example, are Rating’s interviewers prompted by their script to ask again, which leads some of those “don’t knows” to respond with a party whose name they know – which could often be Batkivshvchyna? Are KIIS’s prompted to do the opposite, to accept the “don’t know” answer without prompting for a different answer? I know from experience that the way interviewers are led and trained to follow up with respondents can make a difference.

I’m purely speculating – and I’m not saying either one of these is right or wrong – but to see that big a difference between two different polls by different firms using the same method (in-person interviewing) makes me think it could be down to something like this.

Of course, another explanation could be that the apparent increase for Bloc Petro Poroshenko and the apparent decline of Batkivshchyna are reflective of an actual, significant change in what people think over the course of a month. I doubt this.

Anyone know?

Region, region, region

No Ukrainian political party (as I understand it) has ever really been able to capture significant, meaningful support from all parts of the country. That doesn’t look like it’s about to change.

Parties like the PoR-remnant Opposition Bloc pick up almost all their support in southern and eastern Ukraine, while Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovyi’s Samopomich, not surprisingly, gets most of its support in western Ukraine. Even the two ‘big’ parties of Batkivshchyna and Bloc Petro Poroshenko can’t pull in consistent support across Ukraine, as you can see below in the absolute most cluttered PoS chart you’ll ever see.

party-region-v2
“Your chart sucks.” -You, just now.

When the bottom of the table’s more interesting than the top

I’m most interested in what’s going on down here in the relegation zone, which I haven’t bothered to translate because I’m a) too lazy and b) if you’re reading this you’re probably Ukrainian/speak at least some Ukrainian and can read it better than me anyways.

First, the 5.8% of people who said they’d vote ‘against all’ or spoil the ballot. That’s high, even just for a poll; by way of comparison, in that debacle of a Hungarian referendum last week 4% of voters spoiled their ballot in protest, a figure I still can’t get over.

Second, the 22.3% of people who said they wouldn’t take part in voting. I don’t have much to say about this – I don’t actually think that’s a remarkably high or low number, though the difference from west to east (17% compared to 28%) is worth noting. Is this down to more western Ukrainians heading their own more recognizable parties (e.g., Sadovyi, Lyashko, Hrytsenko, Tyahnybok), or is it a matter of different regional political cultures and attitudes towards democracy and (non) voting showing through? Both?

Lastly, the 31.1% of people who said “difficult to say” (don’t know, basically). As someone schooled in the arcana of Canadian, British and American electoral politics I have to admit I don’t think I’ll ever be able to wrap my mind around the idea of almost a third of people not sure who they’re going to vote for.

This 31.1% figure says more to me about Ukrainian party politics and the state of Ukrainian democracy than any other figure here. No party, whether small, not-as-small or in-theory-biggest, seems able to capture the interest and imagination of post-Maidan Ukraine at all. To quote Sonic Youth, fragmentation is (still) the rule.

Postscript

I’ve got my hands on the most recent KIIS Omnibus data (that’s publicly available – from May 2016). Been running some numbers. Will have some reasonably interesting analysis of my own in a few days.

Donbas, elections and visa-free travel: latest Razumkov Centre poll

Donbas, elections and visa-free travel: latest Razumkov Centre poll

New Ukraine survey/poll data, new blog post.

The Razumkov Centre just released findings from a survey. Boring stuff: more than 2,000 respondents, interviewed between Sept 9-14, 2016 across all of Ukraine except Crimea and the “LNR”/”DNR”, 2.3% MoE.

A few findings I found particularly interesting:

Special status

Half (50%) of respondents did not support granting special status to Donbas, with 23% agreeing and 27% being unsure (“difficult to say”).

The regional numbers don’t throw up any surprises, with respondents from western Ukrainian being the least supportive and respondents in eastern Ukraine in Donbas being the most supportive.

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I’d like to see breakdowns by a few other factors, particularly age and level of education (presumably done behind the scenes already? Not significant, possibly), but the Razumkov Centre does provide us with a comparison of how people responded to these questions six months ago.

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It’s not the decline in those saying ‘no’ over the two surveys (56% down to 50%) that grabs my attention here – it’s the increase in those respondents who aren’t sure (20% up to 27%) when it comes to special status for Donbas. Based just on these numbers here (i.e., without a bunch of data to nerd around with, whether the sample sizes are large enough to show regional trends over time, etc.) I’d say that an increasing number of Ukrainians aren’t sure what ‘special status’ means at all.

Elections, elections

The numbers aren’t all that different when it comes to elections in the occupied territories in Donbas (the “DNR”/”LNR”) – just under a quarter (24%) support them, half (51%) don’t support them and a quarter (25%) aren’t sure at all.

Again, the regional breakdowns are no surprise (though I’ll highlight, as per the Razumkov report, that the differences for eastern Ukraine and the Donbas aren’t statistically significant).

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Want to see the most useless table ever? It’s right there. There’s basically been no significant change over six months on this one.

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Visa-free regime with Europe

In the same survey (presented in a different document), people were asked what they thought about the still unrealized visa-free travel regime with the EU. Just over a third (35%) said visa-free travel with the EU was important or very important to them and, not surprisingly, it’s a lot more important to people in western Ukraine.

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Yes, the colour scheme was a deliberate choice.

Fortunately the Razumkov Centre points out something about age before I can ask about it – younger respondents (aged 18-29) were more likely to say that a visa-free regime was important or very important (61%) than respondents 60 years and older (18%). Not particularly shocking.

But most Ukrainians aren’t expecting visa-free travel to land anytime soon. Only 7% expect it by the end of this year, 45% expect it in 2017 (either early or later in 2017) while one in five (20%) say it’ll never come. That pessimism is much stronger in eastern and southern Ukraine than anywhere else.

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Comments/interpretations welcome.

August 2016 poll: Electoral Moods in Ukraine

August 2016 poll: Electoral Moods in Ukraine

It’s “Electoral Moods in Ukraine” time.

The usual preamble:

  • Poll by sociological group “Rating”
  • 2,000 Ukrainians, all 18+, representative of age, gender, region and type of settlement. MoE 2.2%.
  • Face-to-face interviews
  • Interviews done August 18-23, 2016

Screenshots are all from the original presentation in Ukrainian.

Verkhovna Rada elections

Among Ukrainian voters who a) intend to vote and b) have decided who they’re voting for, Batkivshchyna leads the way with 18% of respondents, followed by the Opposition Bloc at 13%, followed by both Samopomich and the Radical Party at 11%.

2016-08-31 11.19.28

While Batkivshchyna’s support seems to have gone up a bit over the last year from 13% a year ago (see below), I’m not sure how much we can actually read into this; they might be benefiting somewhat from Bloc Petro Poroshenko’s popularity plummeting (9%), but the same could be said for the Opposition Bloc or Lyashko’s Radical Party.

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Regardless, I wouldn’t chalk these figures up to a surge in support for Batkivshchyna and Yulia Tymoshenko. Consider the fact that, of all voters intending to vote (regardless of whether they know which party they’d vote for), more voters selected ‘don’t know’ (18%) than Batkivshchyna (15%) or indeed any party.

One party of course that’s not benefiting from this is Svoboda. Everyone’s favourite far-right bogeyman party still looks barely able to break the 5% threshold, if at all and the even scarier Pravyi Sektor bogeyman is barely on anyone’s radar.

Looking for a far-right populist surge in Europe? You won’t find it in Ukraine.

Presidential elections

The numbers look pretty similar when it comes to presidential elections.  Among Ukrainian voters who a) intend to vote and b) have decided who they’re voting for, Tymoshenko leads with 18% of respondents, followed by the Opposition Bloc’s Yuriy Boyko at 12%, and Poroshenko himself at 10%. Still, almost one in five (19%) of respondents said they’d vote for another candidate not on the list – which to me is a proxy for ‘I don’t know’ – so I don’t think Tymoshenko and Batkivshchyna should be patting themselves on the back quite yet for nipping at None of the Above’s heels.

2016-08-31 11.20.23

Looking at the data over time here it’s much the same story as above. Tymoshenko’s doing marginally better as Poroshenko’s popularity nosedives, but so are people like Boyko, Lyashko and, yes, Nadia Savchenko.

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(Also I’m not sure why ‘other candidate’ is 19% in the main table and 17% in the table below. I don’t have the raw data but I assume there’s a weighting/stats reason for it.)

And, of course, look at the numbers for Tyahnybok (4%) and Yarosh (2%). Looking for a far-right president? Not here. Go to Austria.

Trust in politicians?

I’ll just put this here, sans much in the way of editorial comment.

2016-08-31 11.16.43

What’s happened to Nadia Savchenko?

It looks like the post-release honeymoon is over. Alongside being part of Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna, some of the comments Savchenko’s made over the last few months (e.g., on holding direct talks with “DNR”/”LNR” leaders) look like they’ve rubbed some Ukrainians the wrong way. Just look at how much trust in her has fallen after just two months.

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Also worth noting:

  • Almost a third of respondents (31%) said their attitude towards her had deteriorated since her release
  • Over a third (34%) think she should go back to being a fighter pilot, compared to 24% just two months ago.
  • Of those who’d heard some of her recent statements, almost half (49%) didn’t agree with them – 55% didn’t agree with her comments on amnesty for “DNR”/”LNR” fighters

If she’s going to live up to the hype and Joan of Arc expectations that were foisted on her she’s got a tough road ahead of her.

Taking issue with the OSCE SMM’s report on IDPs in Ukraine

Taking issue with the OSCE SMM’s report on IDPs in Ukraine

Last Friday the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) released a report on internal displacement in Ukraine and it seems like they want it to be read by as few people as possible.

The OSCE SMM didn’t just release this report on the last Friday in August – they buried it late in the afternoon on the last Friday in August (17.30 Ukraine time – 10.30 am Eastern in Canada/US). OK?

And looking at when the focus groups and interviews were actually done for the report, it’s not like they didn’t have time to release it when people might actually be paying attention:

“Focus group discussions and individual interviews were conducted between August and November 2015 in 19 regions across Ukraine” [emphasis mine]

Listen, I know there were a lot of focus groups and interviews – 161 groups and 39 individual interviews, to be precise, so more than 1,600 people in total. I’ve been that guy having to organize transcriptions and analysis of piles of focus group and interview findings. It takes time. But you mean to tell me it’s taken no less than nine months to do all this?

If they have, the quality of the report is pretty disappointing. This thing rambles on, with barely a signpost for the reader to know what the most important findings are. We don’t get any stand-alone block quotes from IDPs themselves to help contextualize and understand how they’re coping in new communities. We’re treated to vague discussions of IDP-community relations that could leave a reader thinking they’re far worse than they actually are. We get a conclusion (“Concluding Remarks”) that reads like it was pieced together the morning of (I know, cuz I’ve done it), a flimsy set of remarks that summarizes almost nothing of substance. If I ever handed a draft report like this to one of my old bosses I’d have had it handed back to me pretty quickly.

Read this report, then take a look at the UNHCR’s report from a few months ago about IDPs and host communities in Ukraine, and also one of the IOM’s regular reports every few months. I challenge you to reach a different conclusion than mine: that this report’s a watered-down stream of paragraphs that doesn’t really help us understand IDPs any better.

Should we be surprised? Probably not. According to one former OSCE observer:

“According to established OSCE practice, reports should not provoke major controversies. Instead, they should be politically acceptable to all member states, with the emphasis on ‘balance’ rather than ‘objectivity’. In addition to this approach, I also quickly learned that I was only one of several links in the chain of report preparation. Information provided by OSCE monitoring teams had been often already been ‘sterilized’ by the time it reached me. As a result, the reports posted on the OSCE website were often far removed from that what I personally wished to include, and what should have been included.”

I think we can add this report to that list.