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What path of integration should Ukraine choose: European Union, Customs Union

By Julia Sakhno

Between September 11 and September 21, 2015 Kiev international institute of sociology (KIIS) at its own expense conducted the nation-wide public opinion poll. The survey was conducted in 110 settlements in all regions of Ukraine, (except the Autonomous Republic of Crimea) according to the four-stage random sample, which is representative for adult population of Ukraine (aged 18 and over). Totally 2041 respondents were interviewed face-to-face during the field stage.

In Luhansk region the poll was conducted only in territories controlled by Ukraine’s government forces. In Donetsk region the poll was conducted in territories controlled by Ukraine’s government forces, and  Donetsk (the territory controlled by separatist forces).

Statistical sample error (with probability of 0.95 and design-effect of 1.5) does not exceed 3.3% for indicators close to 50%; 2.8% for indicators close to 25%; 2.0% for indicators close to 10%; 1.4%  for indicators close to 5%, 0.7% for indicators close to 1%.

 

Referendum on a question whether Ukraine should join the European Union and on a question about joining the Customs Union

The majority of Ukrainians prefer course toward European integration to joining the Customs Union: if the referendums on the country's accession to the EU or the Customs Union were held in September 2015, about 46% of Ukrainians would vote for Ukraine's accession to the European Union, and only 18% - for accession to the Eurasian Customs Union.

If those who have not decided how vote, as usual, did not come to vote on a referendum, we can assume that in a case of the referendum on EU membership about 76% of voting-age citizens would participate, and the votes would be distributed as follows (actually, these indicators are closest to the possible results of the referendum if it was held at the end of September): 61% would vote for Ukraine's accession to the European Union, 39% - against.

In a case of the referendum on Ukraine’s accession to the Customs Union, corresponding figures are: 24% - for, 76% - against.



In comparison with the situation existed in December 2014, public readiness to vote for EU membership continue to weaken: over the past 9 month the percentage of citizens who were ready to vote for Ukraine joining EU decreased by 7 percentage points (from 53% in December 2014 to the current 46%), and by as many increased the percentage of those who oppose it (from 24% in December 2014 to 30% in September 2015).

*Before March 2014 the data is given for all Ukraine with AR Crimea. Since March 2014 the data is presented for Ukraine not including AR Crimea.


Public opinions on an integration with the Customs union did not change significantly over the past 9 month: like it was in December 2014, now (in September 2015) about 18% favor joining the Customs Union (the difference is not statistically significant). 



 

*Before March 2014 the data is given for all Ukraine with AR Crimea. Since March 2014 the data is presented for Ukraine not including AR Crimea.

Same as before, there are varying levels of support for EU and CU in different regions of the country. If a referendum on whether Ukraine should join the European Union was held in September 2015, the percentage of those who would vote “for” would be 78% in the West, 52% in the Center, 30% in the South and only 19% in the East. In a question about Ukraine’s accession to the Customs Union, the percentage of those who would vote “for” is 5% in the West, 8% in the Center, 29% in the South and 38% in the East. So, as we can note, citizens of Ukraine still do not share the same opinion on a preferable course of integration. Although the support of pro-European integration course on average prevail, common views for different regions were not reached.

Preferable course of integration

Besides questions on hypothetical referendums on EU or CU membership, respondents were asked which path of integrations they consider to be more preferable for Ukraine.

When answering the question “What kind of foreign policy course should Ukraine take?”, 44% prefer course toward joining the European Union, and 17% hold an opinion that Ukraine should move toward joining the Customs Union. However, significant part of Ukraine’s citizens (27%) is disposed against both unions and holds an opinion that Ukraine should develop on its own, joining neither EU nor Customs Union.

*Before September 2015 the wording of the question was “What path of integration should Ukraine choose – joining the European Union, joining the Customs Union consisting of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, or joining neither EU nor Customs Union”.

**Before March 2014 the data is given for all Ukraine with AR Crimea. Since March 2014 the data is presented for Ukraine not including AR Crimea.

By regions, pro-European attitudes prevail in Western and Central oblasts of Ukraine: Ukraine's strategic course toward European integration is supported by 76% in the West and 49% in the Center. In South the prevailing opinion is that Ukraine should keep neutrality, and join neither the EU nor the Customs Union (such opinion was expressed by 35%), and the percentage of EU-supporters (27%) is about the same as a percentage of people supporting course toward joining CU (25%). In Eastern Ukraine majority prefer course toward joining the Customs Union (38%), followed by 32% of those who prefer neutrality, and 19% of those who support joining the EU. So we can see, that many people (especially in South and East), who were disenchanted with Russia and did not became positively inclined towards EU, now tend to prefer an independent course of Ukraine.



 

*Westernregion: Volynska, Zakarpatska, Ivano-Frankivska, Lvivska, Rivnenska, Ternopilska, Khmelnytska, Chernivetska oblast; Centralregion: Kyiv city, Kyivska, Vinnytska, Zhytomyrska, Kirovogradska, Poltavska, Sumska, Cherkaska, Chernigivska oblast; Southernregion: Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka, Mykolaivska, Odeska, Khersonska oblast; Easternregion: Kharkivska, Donetska, Luhanska oblast.

 

 

APPENDIX. Tables

Table 1. “Please, imagine, that now is a referendum on whether Ukraine should join the European Union. You can vote for, against or abstain - not participate in voting. What would you choose?”, %, February 2012 – September 2015

  Feb. 2012 Sep. 2013 Nov. 2013 Feb. 2014 Dec. 2014 Feb. 2015 May. 2015 Sep. 2015
For accession to the EU 39.7 43.2 39.7 41.8 53.3 50.7 48.8 46.3
Against 33.2 30.1 35.1 37.2 23.9 25.7 28.4 30.4
Would not participate 6.8 10.3 8.7 8.3 8.6 10.6 10.5 10.9
Don't know 20.3 16.4 16.5 12.7 14.2 13.0 12.4 12.4
TOTAL 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

*Before March 2014 the data is given for all Ukraine with AR Crimea. Since March 2014 the data is presented for Ukraine not including AR Crimea.

 

Table 2. “Please, imagine, that now is a referendum on whether Ukraine should join the European Union. You can vote for, against or abstain - not participate in voting. What would you choose?” by macroregions, September 2015

  West Center South East UKRAINE IN TOTAL
For accession to the EU 77.8 52.0 29.9 19.4 46.3
Against 9.4 22.5 44.9 50.3 30.4
Would not participate 4.5 8.2 12.4 20.7 10.9
Don't know 8.3 17.3 12.8 9.6 12.4
TOTAL 100 100 100 100 100

*Westernregion: Volynska, Zakarpatska, Ivano-Frankivska, Lvivska, Rivnenska, Ternopilska, Khmelnytska, Chernivetska oblast; Centralregion: Kyiv city, Kyivska, Vinnytska, Zhytomyrska, Kirovogradska, Poltavska, Sumska, Cherkaska, Chernigivska oblast; Southernregion: Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka, Mykolaivska, Odeska, Khersonska oblast; Easternregion: Kharkivska, Donetska, Luhanska oblast.

 

Table 3. “And if a referendum on whether Ukraine should join the Customs Union consisting of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan was held now, what would you choose: vote for, against or abstain - not participate in voting?”, %, September 2013 – September 2015

  Sep.13 Nov.13 Feb.14 Dec.14 May.15 Sep.15
For accession to the CU 39.9 40.9 40.6 17.5 18.6 18.5
Against 33.2 33.1 37.2 58.8 56.8 57.6
Would not participate 11.3 8.9 8.7 10.7 12.2 12.1
Don't know 15.6 17.2 13.5 12.9 12.5 11.8
TOTAL 100 100 100 100 100 100

*Before March 2014 the data is given for all Ukraine with AR Crimea. Since March 2014 the data is presented for Ukraine not including AR Crimea.

 

Table 4. “And if a referendum on whether Ukraine should join the Customs Union consisting of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan was held now, what would you choose: vote for, against or abstain - not participate in voting?” by macroregions, September 2015

  West Center South East UKRAINE IN TOTAL
For accession to the CU 5.5 8.3 28.5 37.5 18.5
Against 82.6 67.1 46.1 27.6 57.6
Would not participate 5.0 11.4 13.7 19.4 12.1
Don't know 7.0 13.2 11.7 15.5 11.8
TOTAL 100 100 100 100 100

*Westernregion: Volynska, Zakarpatska, Ivano-Frankivska, Lvivska, Rivnenska, Ternopilska, Khmelnytska, Chernivetska oblast; Centralregion: Kyiv city, Kyivska, Vinnytska, Zhytomyrska, Kirovogradska, Poltavska, Sumska, Cherkaska, Chernigivska oblast; Southernregion: Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka, Mykolaivska, Odeska, Khersonska oblast; Easternregion: Kharkivska, Donetska, Luhanska oblast.

 

Table 5. «In your opinion, what kind of foreign policy course should Ukraine take-», %, February 2013 - September 2015*

  Feb.2013 Sep.2013 Feb.2015 Sep.2015
joining the European Union 36.6 41.3 47.2 44.1
joining the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia 37.5 35.3 12.3 17.3
joining neither the EU nor the Customs Union 10.7 9.2 27.3 27.5
Hard to say, don’t know 15.2 14.1 13.1 11.1
TOTAL 100 100 100 100

*Before September 2015 the wording of the question was “What path of integration should Ukraine choose – joining the European Union, joining the Customs Union consisting of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, or joining neither EU nor Customs Union”. Before March 2014 the data is given for all Ukraine with AR Crimea. Since March 2014 the data is presented for Ukraine not including AR Crimea.

 

Table 6. “In your opinion, what kind of foreign policy course should Ukraine take - ” by macroregions, %, September 2015

  West Center South East UKRAINE IN TOTAL
joining the European Union 75.8 48.7 27.5 19.4 44.1
joining the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia 3.9 8.2 25.1 37.6 17.3
joining neither the EU nor the Customs Union 14.1 29.2 35.3 31.7 27.5
Hard to say, don’t know 6.2 13.9 12.2 11.3 11.1
TOTAL 75.8 48.7 27.5 19.4 44.1

*Westernregion: Volynska, Zakarpatska, Ivano-Frankivska, Lvivska, Rivnenska, Ternopilska, Khmelnytska, Chernivetska oblast; Centralregion: Kyiv city, Kyivska, Vinnytska, Zhytomyrska, Kirovogradska, Poltavska, Sumska, Cherkaska, Chernigivska oblast; Southernregion: Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka, Mykolaivska, Odeska, Khersonska oblast; Easternregion: Kharkivska, Donetska, Luhanska oblast.

 

Dataset (for SPSS) and survey materials are available at National survey archive (KIIS Omnibus 2015/09) or upon request (j.sakhno@kiis.com.ua).

For comments or questions you can contact Julia Sakhno (j.sakhno@kiis.com.ua).


7.10.2015
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