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Geopolitical orientations of the residents of Ukraine: February 2019

Press release by Yulia Sakhno

Major results:

-        The accession of Ukraine to the EU and NATO is supported by a bigger share of people than the idea of accession to Customs Union. According to the polls, as of February 2019, 51% of the population were ready to vote for the accession to the EU, 40% - for NATO, 23% - for Customs Union. Assuming that all those who are determined with the choice and intend to vote would participate in the referendum if it was held in February 2019, then 70% of the votes would be given to joining the EU (30% - against), 56% - for joining NATO (44% - against), 36% - for joining the Customs Union (64% - against).

-        Asked about the desired direction of foreign policy, 45% of those polled voted for Ukraine's accession to the EU, 14% - for joining the Customs Union with Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia, while 25% believe that Ukraine should develop independently without entering any of these associations.

-        As before, geopolitical orientations vary considerably depending on the region: in the Western and Central regions, the vast majority of population support the accession both to the EU, and to NATO; in the South, the number of supporters of the EU is almost the same as the number of supporters of the Customs Union, most of the population there is against joining NATO; in the Eastern regions there is a bigger number of those who are against joining NATO and who support entry into the Customs Union, rather than joining the EU.

On February 8 – 20, 2019, Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) conducted its own all-Ukrainian public opinion poll. Data were collected from 2042 respondents living in 110 settlements in all oblasts of Ukraine (except for the AR of Crimea) with the method of personal interviewing. The sample was stochastic, 4-staged, and it is representative of the population of Ukraine aged 18 and above.

In Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts survey was conducted only in the territories that are controlled by the government of Ukraine.

The statistical sampling error (with a probability of 0.95 and for a design effect of 1.5) does not exceed: 3.3% — for indexes close to 50%, 2.8% — for indexes close to 25%, 2.0% — for indexes close to 10%, 1.4% — for indexes close to 5%.

 

Attitude of the residents of Ukraine to Ukraine`s accession to the EU

According to the polls, as of February 2019, Ukraine's accession to the EU is supported by about half of Ukraine's population[1]: responding to questions about who would they act if a referendum on whether Ukraine should enter the European Union was held at the moment, 51% indicated that they would vote for Ukraine's accession to the EU, 23% - against, and 26% - were not determined or would not vote.

If those who have not decided how to vote yet, did not, as usual, come to a referendum on joining the EU, 74% of those who have a right to vote and live in the territories that are controlled by the government of Ukraine would participate. Their votes would be distributed in the following way (in fact, these indicators are the closest to the possible results of the referendum if it was held in February 2019[2]): for accession to the EU - 70% of votes, against - 30%.



[1] Residents of Ukraine without the temporarily occupied territories (the AR of Crimea, parts of Donetska and Luhanska oblasts)

[2] Since in this question and in the questions below we do not ask for a vote on next Sunday, asking instead to say how the respondent would vote if the referendum is held right now, the polling itself is a kind of imitation of the referendum. Therefore, the answer “difficult to say" in fact means non-participation in the referendum.


Compared to the survey of September 2017, that was held shortly after the approval of a visa-free travel[1], and when there was a peak level of readiness of the population to vote for Ukraine's accession to the EU (57% of the population were “for”, 17% “against”), now the percentage of those who are ready to vote for joining the EU decreased somewhat and returned to the previous level before visa-free regime (49% were ready to vote for EU membership in February 2017, 51% are ready to do it now, the difference is within the margin of error).



[1] The visa-free travel agreement between Ukraine and the European Union was signed on May 17, 2017, and came into force on June 11, 2017.

 

As before, the attitude to the issue of Ukraine's accession to the EU varies considerably depending on the region. The percentage of those who vote for the accession is bigger than the percentage of those who are against in Western and Central regions, the shares are equal in oblasts of the Southern region, and the percentage of those who are against joining the EU dominates in the Eastern region:

  • in the Western region, 72% of the population are ready to vote for joining the EU, 7% are against, 21% have not decided or would not vote on this issue;
  • in the Central region, 56% are for the accession to the EU, 19% - against, 25% - undetermined or would not participate in the vote;
  • in the Southern region, 36% are ready to vote in favor of the EU membership, 37% - against, 27%  are undetermined or would not participate in the vote;
  • in the Eastern region, 26% are ready to vote in favor of the EU membership, 36% - against, 38% are undetermined or would not participate in the vote.


Western region:  Volynska, Zakarpatska, Ivano-Frankivska, Lvivska, Rivnenska, Ternopilska, Khmelnytska, Chernivets`ka oblasts; Central region: Kyiv city, Kyivs`ka, Vinnytska, Zhytomyrska, Kirovohradska, Poltavska, Sumska, Cherkaska, Chernihivska oblasts; South region: Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka, Mykolaivska, Odeska, Khersonska oblasts; Eastern region:  Kharkivska, Donetska, Luhanska oblasts (without the temporarily occupied territories).

 

Attitude of the residents of Ukraine to Ukraine`s accession to the Customs Union

The idea of Ukraine's accession to the Customs Union with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan does not have much support among the Ukrainians: if a referendum on whether Ukraine should enter the Customs Union was held in February 2019, 23% of the residents of Ukraine would vote for Ukraine's accession to the Customs Union, 43% - against joining the Customs Union, and 34% - undecided or would not participate in such referendum.

If those who have not decided how to vote yet, did not, as usual, come to a referendum on joining the Customs Union, 66% of those who have a right to vote and live in the territories that are controlled by the government of Ukraine would participate. Their votes would be distributed in the following way (in fact, these indicators are the closest to the possible results of the referendum if it was held in February 2019): for accession to the Customs Union - 36% of votes, against - 64%.


The percentage of those who are ready to vote for joining the Customs Union in February 2019 was slightly higher than during the preliminary polls that had been conducted after the annexation of the AR of Crimea and the beginning of an armed conflict in eastern Ukraine: from December 2014 to September 2017, the percentage of those ready to vote for entry into the Customs The Union did not exceed 18%, in February 2019 it is 23%. At the same time, the percentage of opponents of entry into the Customs Union dropped from 55% in September 2017 to 43% in February 2019, and the percentage of those uncertain increased from 30% in September 2017 to 34% in February 2019. That is, while the percentage of opponents of the Customs Union is bigger than the percentage of adherents, however, according to the current poll, anti-Russian sentiment became weaker among the part of the population.

 

The accession to the Customs Union has somewhat bigger support among the population of the Eastern and Southern regions:

  • in the Western region, accession to the Customs Union is supported by 10% of the population, not supported by 55%, 35% are undecided or would not participate in voting on this issue;
  • in the Center, 22% are “for”, 47% - “against”, 31% are undecided or would not vote;
  • in the South, 34% are “for”, 34% - “against”, 33% are undecided or would not vote;
  • in the East, 36% are “for”, 24% - “against”, 39% are undecided or would not vote.

Western region:  Volynska, Zakarpatska, Ivano-Frankivska, Lvivska, Rivnenska, Ternopilska, Khmelnytska, Chernivets`ka oblasts; Central region: Kyiv city, Kyivs`ka, Vinnytska, Zhytomyrska, Kirovohradska, Poltavska, Sumska, Cherkaska, Chernihivska oblasts; South region: Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka, Mykolaivska, Odeska, Khersonska oblasts; Eastern region:  Kharkivska, Donetska, Luhanska oblasts (without the temporarily occupied territories).

Desired direction of foreign policy

In addition to the question of possible actions in case of a referendum on the EU or the Customs Union membership, respondents were asked to answer which foreign policy they generally desire for Ukraine.

According to the poll conducted in February 2019, Ukraine's accession to the EU remains the preferable direction of foreign policy for the majority (45%) of the residents. The course for joining the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia is the desired one for 14% of the Ukrainians. A significant part (25%) is still opposed both to the EU and the Customs Union and believes that Ukraine should develop independently without joining any of these associations.

Compared to the previous poll conducted in September 2017, support for pro-European course declined from 53% to 45% and returned to the level prior to the declaration of a visa-free regime (47% in February 2017, 45% in February 2019). However, opinions of the population about the desired course of foreign policy have been remaining generally unchanged for the last four years: the majority of the population considers the course of joining the EU to be desirable, then follows non-alignment neither to the EU nor to the Customs Union, and the least popular option is joining the Customs the union.

As before, opinions about the desired course of foreign policy vary considerably by regions:

  • In the Western region, an absolute majority (64%) considers it desirable to join the EU, 18% go for not joining any of the unions, 4% - for joining the Customs Union;
  • In the Central region, the majority (53%) of the population are for joining the EU, 21% - for not joining any of the unions, 10% - for joining the Customs Union;
  • In the South region, one third (33%) of the population are for not joining any of the unions, 29% - for joining the EU, 23% - for joining the Customs Union;
  • In the Eastern region, one third (33%) of the population are for not joining any of the unions, 27% - for joining the Customs Union, 21% - for joining the EU.

Western region:  Volynska, Zakarpatska, Ivano-Frankivska, Lvivska, Rivnenska, Ternopilska, Khmelnytska, Chernivets`ka oblasts; Central region: Kyiv city, Kyivs`ka, Vinnytska, Zhytomyrska, Kirovohradska, Poltavska, Sumska, Cherkaska, Chernihivska oblasts; South region: Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka, Mykolaivska, Odeska, Khersonska oblasts; Eastern region:  Kharkivska, Donetska, Luhanska oblasts (without the temporarily occupied territories).

Attitude of the residents of Ukraine to Ukraine`s accession to NATO

According to the results of the poll, the share of supporters of Ukraine's accession to NATO prevails over the proportion of opponents: if a referendum on Ukraine's accession to NATO had been held in February 2019, 40% of the Ukrainians would have voted for Ukraine's accession to NATO, 31% - against; the remaining 28% had not decided yet or would not have participated in such a referendum.

That is, if a referendum on Ukraine's accession to NATO had been held in February 2019, and those who had not decided on their choice had participated in the vote, 72% would have participated in the referendum and the votes of the participants would have been distributed as follows: 56% - for Ukraine's accession to NATO, 44% against.


Compared to September 2017, the share of those who are ready to vote for Ukraine's accession to NATO declined from 45% to 40% and returned to the level of 2015 - the beginning of 2017. The share of those who are undecided or would not participate in the referendum on this issue has not changed (in February 2019, as well as in September 2017, this percentage was 28%). That is, in spite of certain fluctuations in moods, the attitude of the Ukrainians to the question of joining NATO remains fairly stable over the last four years.

The idea of Ukraine's accession to NATO is still supported mainly by the inhabitants of the Western and Central regions; in the South and East of the country, the majority of the population are opposed to Ukraine`s joining NATO. According to the poll, if a referendum on Ukraine's accession to NATO had been held in February 2019,

  • in the Western region, 56% would have voted for joining NATO, 10% - against, 34% - undecided or would not have voted;
  • in the Central region, 50% would have voted for joining NATO, 22% - against, 29% - undecided or would not have voted;
  • in the South region, 24% would have voted for joining NATO, 52% - against, 24% - undecided or would not have voted;
  • in the Eastern region, 14% would have voted for joining NATO, 60% - against, 26% - undecided or would not have voted.

Western region:  Volynska, Zakarpatska, Ivano-Frankivska, Lvivska, Rivnenska, Ternopilska, Khmelnytska, Chernivets`ka oblasts; Central region: Kyiv city, Kyivs`ka, Vinnytska, Zhytomyrska, Kirovohradska, Poltavska, Sumska, Cherkaska, Chernihivska oblasts; South region: Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka, Mykolaivska, Odeska, Khersonska oblasts; Eastern region:  Kharkivska, Donetska, Luhanska oblasts (without the temporarily occupied territories).

 

ADDITION. Tables

Table 1. “Imagine, please, that the referendum on whether Ukraine should join the European Union is happening now. You can vote for joining, against joining or skip the question – not participate in the poll. What is your choice?”, %

  For joining Against joining Not to participate Hard to say/Denial TOTAL
Dec.2014 54.3 23.5 8.4 13.7 100
Feb.2015 52.4 24.4 10.3 12.8 100
May.2015 51.3 26.2 10.2 12.3 100
Sep.2015 48.3 28.4 10.6 12.8 100
Dec.2015 55.1 21.2 10.6 13.1 100
Feb.2016 50.9 25.8 8.9 14.4 100
May.2016 49.4 26.2 9.3 15.1 100
Sep.2016 49.1 25.4 10.4 15.1 100
Dec.2016 50.0 28.7 9.4 11.8 100
Feb.2017 48.9 27.9 10.9 12.3 100
May.2017 53.2 23.9 8.0 14.9 100
Sep.2017 57.4 17.3 10.5 14.8 100
Feb.2019 51.3 22.5 8.9 17.2 100

Data are given for Ukraine, except for temporarily occupied territories (without the AR of Crimea and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts).

 

Table 2. “Imagine, please, that the referendum on whether Ukraine should join the European Union is happening now. You can vote for joining, against joining or skip the question – not participate in the poll. What is your choice?” – February 2019, distribution by regions, %

  Western Central South Eastern UKRAINE
For joining 72.4 56.2 35.8 26.2 51.3
Against joining 6.8 19.0 36.9 36.0 22.5
Not to participate 7.3 6.7 10.3 15.5 8.9
Hard to say/Denial 13.6 18.1 17.1 22.3 17.2
TOTAL 100 100 100 100 100

Data are given for Ukraine, except for temporarily occupied territories (without the AR of Crimea and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts).

 

Western region:  Volynska, Zakarpatska, Ivano-Frankivska, Lvivska, Rivnenska, Ternopilska, Khmelnytska, Chernivets`ka oblasts; Central region: Kyiv city, Kyivs`ka, Vinnytska, Zhytomyrska, Kirovohradska, Poltavska, Sumska, Cherkaska, Chernihivska oblasts; South region: Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka, Mykolaivska, Odeska, Khersonska oblasts; Eastern region:  Kharkivska, Donetska, Luhanska oblasts (without the temporarily occupied territories).

 

Table 3. “And if the referendum on whether Ukraine should join the Customs Union with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan was happening now, how would you vote: vote for joining, against joining or skip the question – not participate in the poll? What is your choice?”, %

  For joining Against joining Not to participate Hard to say/Denial TOTAL
Dec. 2014 16.8 60.0 10.6 12.6 100
May.2015 16.3 59.3 12.2 12.2 100
Sep.2015 15.8 60.2 11.8 12.1 100
Dec. 2015 14.2 59.6 12.1 14.1 100
Feb.2016 14.9 60.0 9.6 15.5 100
May.2016 16.2 57.0 9.8 17.1 100
Sep.2016 17.9 54.6 11.2 16.2 100
Sep.2017 15.3 54.8 13.9 16.0 100
Feb.2019 23.5 42.6 10.9 23.0 100

Data are given for Ukraine, except for temporarily occupied territories (without the AR of Crimea and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts).

 

Table 4. “And if the referendum on whether Ukraine should join the Customs Union with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan was happening now, how would you vote: vote for joining, against joining or skip the question – not participate in the poll? What is your choice?” – February 2019, distribution by regions, %

  Western Central South Eastern UKRAINE
For joining 9.8 21.6 33.7 36.4 23.5
Against joining 54.6 47.0 33.6 24.3 42.6
Not to participate 10.3 11.6 8.4 15.0 10.9
Hard to say/Denial 25.4 19.8 24.2 24.3 23.0
TOTAL 100 100 100 100 100

Data are given for Ukraine, except for temporarily occupied territories (without the AR of Crimea and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts).

 

Western region:  Volynska, Zakarpatska, Ivano-Frankivska, Lvivska, Rivnenska, Ternopilska, Khmelnytska, Chernivets`ka oblasts; Central region: Kyiv city, Kyivs`ka, Vinnytska, Zhytomyrska, Kirovohradska, Poltavska, Sumska, Cherkaska, Chernihivska oblasts; South region: Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka, Mykolaivska, Odeska, Khersonska oblasts; Eastern region:  Kharkivska, Donetska, Luhanska oblasts (without the temporarily occupied territories).

Table 5. “In your opinion, what direction of foreign policy should Ukraine take?”, %

  Accession to the European Union Accession to the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia Joining neither the European Union nor the Customs Union Hard to say/Denial TOTAL
Feb.2015 48.9 10.5 27.6 13.0 100
Sep.2015 46.0 14.6 28.3 11.1 100
Dec.2015 52.5 12.6 22.3 12.6 100
Feb.2016 49.3 13.3 24.7 12.7 100
May.2016 47.7 13.5 26.4 12.4 100
Sep.2016 45.7 12.9 30.3 11.1 100
Dec.2016 46.5 17.0 26.2 10.4 100
Feb.2017 46.7 14.3 27.9 11.1 100
May.2017 49.2 10.8 26.4 13.6 100
Sep.2017 53.1 10.5 23.7 12.6 100
Feb .2019 45.5 14.1 25.1 15.3 100

Data are given for Ukraine, except for temporarily occupied territories (without the AR of Crimea and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts).

 

Table 6. “In your opinion, what direction of foreign policy should Ukraine take?”, February 2019, distribution by regions, %

  Western Central South Eastern UKRAINE
Accession the European Union 63.6 53.0 29.1 20.8 45.5
Accession the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia 4.1 10.0 23.5 27.1 14.1
Joining neither the European Union nor the Customs Union 18.4 21.4 33.3 32.9 25.1
Hard to say/Denial 13.9 15.5 14.1 19.3 15.3
TOTAL 100 100 100 100 100

Data are given for Ukraine, except for temporarily occupied territories (without the AR of Crimea and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts).

 

Western region:  Volynska, Zakarpatska, Ivano-Frankivska, Lvivska, Rivnenska, Ternopilska, Khmelnytska, Chernivets`ka oblasts; Central region: Kyiv city, Kyivs`ka, Vinnytska, Zhytomyrska, Kirovohradska, Poltavska, Sumska, Cherkaska, Chernihivska oblasts; South region: Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka, Mykolaivska, Odeska, Khersonska oblasts; Eastern region:  Kharkivska, Donetska, Luhanska oblasts (without the temporarily occupied territories).

 

Table 7. “And if the referendum on whether Ukraine should join NATO was happening now, what would be your choice - for joining, against joining or skip the question and not participate in the poll?”, %

  For joining Against joining Not to participate Hard to say/Denial TOTAL
Sep.2014 47.8 32.4 7.3 12.5 100
May.2015 39.6 34.0 9.7 16.7 100
Sep.2016 39.2 31.2 17.8 11.8 100
Feb.2017 41.3 31.6 10.5 16.6 100
May.2017 41.0 31.7 8.1 19.3 100
Sep.2017 44.8 27.2 10.5 17.5 100
Feb.2019 40.1 31.5 8.3 20.1 100

Data are given for Ukraine, except for temporarily occupied territories (without the AR of Crimea and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts).

 

Table 8. “And if the referendum on whether Ukraine should join NATO was happening now, what would be your choice - for joining, against joining or skip the question and not participate in the poll?”, February 2019, distribution by regions, %

  Western Central South Eastern UKRAINE
For joining 56.2 49.6 24.0 14.0 40.1
Against joining 10.3 21.6 52.2 59.9 31.5
Not to participate 6.5 8.8 8.6 10.3 8.3
Hard to say/Denial 26.9 20.0 15.2 15.8 20.1
TOTAL 100 100 100 100 100

Data are given for Ukraine, except for temporarily occupied territories (without the AR of Crimea and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts).

 

Western region:  Volynska, Zakarpatska, Ivano-Frankivska, Lvivska, Rivnenska, Ternopilska, Khmelnytska, Chernivets`ka oblasts; Central region: Kyiv city, Kyivs`ka, Vinnytska, Zhytomyrska, Kirovohradska, Poltavska, Sumska, Cherkaska, Chernihivska oblasts; South region: Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka, Mykolaivska, Odeska, Khersonska oblasts; Eastern region:  Kharkivska, Donetska, Luhanska oblasts (without the temporarily occupied territories).

 

Regarding the commentary, contact, please, Yulia Sakhno: j.sakhno@kiis.com.ua

 


27.2.2019
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