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DYNAMICS OF THE ATTITUDE OF UKRAINIANS TO INDEPENDENCE AND THE INDEPENDENCE DAY HOLIDAY (2013-2023)
The press release was prepared by Volodymyr Paniotto and Anton Hrushetskyi
The absolute majority of Ukrainians (at least 89%) support the Independence of Ukraine. Only 1% believe that Ukraine should unite with Russia. Absolute support for Independence was a fact even before 2014, but now this support has become even higher.
The attitude towards the Independence Day of Ukraine from 2013 to 2023 has changed radically. In 2013, this holiday was the most important or favorite for 12% of Ukrainians, and in 2023 - for 63%. In 2013, it was one of the least popular holidays (only Constitution Day was less popular), and now it is one of the 3 most popular holidays in Ukraine, second only to the two main religious holidays.
In the analysis of the attitude towards Independence and the Independence Day holiday of Ukraine, we used the data of omnibus researches of the KIIS conducted from 2013 to 2023. The question about which holidays are most important or favorite depends on the date of the survey. The closer to this holiday, the more often respondents mention it. Therefore, to study the dynamics, we usually ask about holidays every year at the same time (in February). Questions about attitudes towards Independence are less dependent on the season of data collection.
Surveys that were conducted in the period until February 2020 were conducted by the method of personal (face-to-face) interviews, after - by the method of telephone interviews (computer-assisted telephone interviews). In terms of geographical coverage, until February 2014, the survey included all territories of Ukraine, after February 2014, temporarily occupied Crimea and certain territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts were not included. After February 2022, surveys do not include new temporarily occupied territories. The sample of each survey is mostly about 2,000 respondents.
Formally, under normal circumstances, the statistical error of such a sample (with a probability of 0.95 and taking into account the design effect of 1.1) did not exceed 2.4% for indicators close to 50%, 2.1% for indicators close to 25%, 1.5% – for indicators close to 10%, 1.1% – for indicators close to 5%.
Under the conditions of a full-scale invasion, in addition to the specified formal error, a certain systematic deviation can be added, but no more than 5-6% percent.
Dynamics of the attitude of Ukrainians towards Independence
KIIS regularly asked the question "How would you like to see Ukraine's relations with Russia?" in its surveys, where respondents were offered three options for answers:
The question was formulated by the president of KIIS, professor of NaUKMA V. Khmelko back in the 1990s and now, due to the change of context, it needs to be adapted for the future. However, in recent surveys, we asked it in the same wording, as it allows us to correctly analyze the dynamics of public moods.
In the context of attitudes towards Independence, the first two options together correspond to support for Independence, while the third option indicates opponents of Independence. The graph below shows the data in dynamics for the last 10 years, i.e. there are both data for the period before the Revolution of Dignity and current opinions and views of the population. It is important to emphasize that as of February 2013 (that is, almost a year before the Revolution of Dignity), the absolute majority of Ukrainians - 81% - supported the Independence of Ukraine (wanted unification with Russia - 16%) (looking further, in the 1990s an average of 64% supported Independence and 32% wanted unification with Russia, in the 2000s an average of 73% supported Independence and 23% wanted unification with Russia). Currently, the indicator of those who support Independence is 89% (and the share of those who want unification with Russia is 1%). In addition, 9% are currently undecided about their answer to the question. However, they could both hesitate and "approach" the camp of opponents of Independence, and hesitate about the format of relations with Russia, but support Independence. Therefore, the actual level of support for independence is higher than the indicated 89% (for example, among those who have made up their minds, 99% support Independence).
Graph 1. % of Ukrainians who support and do not support the Independence of Ukraine, 2013-2023
Dynamics of the attitude of Ukrainians to the Independence Day holiday
Another dimension of the perception of Independence is how important this holiday is considered, in particular, in the context of other public holidays. KIIS regularly asks the question "Which of these public holidays of Ukraine are the most important or favorite for you?" and the respondent must choose up to 5 answers. Thus, the respondent ranks the holidays for himself and determines those that are really the most favorite for him or her.
According to our research data, in 2023, the majority of the population of Ukraine celebrates Easter and Christmas as the most popular holidays, with percentages of 70% and 69%, respectively. And then there is the Independence Day of Ukraine - 63%. For Ukrainians, Independence Day is now the most important non-religious holiday. The next most popular is the Day of Defenders of Ukraine (54%).
The New Year, which is solemnly celebrated all over the world and which shared the first place with Christmas and Easter in 2023, is only in fifth place with a percentage of 52%. Constitution Day, International Women's Day, and Trinity Day have, respectively, 29%, 25%, and 22%. The least popular holidays this year are Victory Day and Labor Day (May 1) - only 13% and 5% of Ukrainians celebrate these dates as favorite or important.
Graph2. Which holidays are the most popular (important or favorite) among the population of Ukraine, February 2023
As we can see, the attitude towards the Independence Day of Ukraine has changed radically. In 2013, this holiday was the most important or favorite for 12% of Ukrainians, and in 2023 - 63%. In 2013, it was one of the least popular holidays (only Constitution Day was less popular), and now it is one of the 3 most popular holidays in Ukraine, second only to the two main religious holidays. Moreover, the most significant changes occurred after a large-scale invasion.
Graph3. % of those who consider the Independence Day of Ukraine the most important or favorite, 2013-2023
V. Paniotto, A. Hrushetskyi, comments on the survey results:
More than 20 years ago, in 2000, a friend of Ukraine, Andrew Wilson, a British researcher, published a book on the history of Ukraine with the interesting title "Ukrainians: An Unexpected Nation." Although for a large part of the Western public, Ukraine was an "unexpected nation" (and even remained so until 2022), it was not so for the Ukrainians themselves..
Surveys of the KIIS (which studied the opinions and views of the population throughout the period of Ukraine's independence) testified to the awareness of the importance and growth of support for Independence, the formation of a modern Ukrainian civil nation. Yes, discussions on certain issues and vectors of Ukraine's development were very emotional. However, Ukrainians themselves saw Ukraine as an independent state.
We specially "reminded" about the public mood in 2013, before the Revolution of Dignity and before the beginning of Russian aggression. And in that period - before the dramatic events - the absolute majority of Ukrainians saw Ukraine as independent. That is why Russia first failed in 2014 with the "Russian Spring", and in 2022 it failed with the rapid occupation of Ukraine. The Ukrainian nation and the cultivation of Independence were formed even before 2014, and the aggression of Russia only accelerated the steady historical processes. In the crucible of a brutal war, the Ukrainian nation finally hardened its strength and demonstrated an iron will to live.
Annex 1. Formulation of the question
Which of these public holidays of Ukraine are the most important or favorite for you? Please specify no more than 5 holidays. NO MORE THAN 5 ANSWER OPTIONS
How would you like to see Ukraine's relations with Russia?
Annex 2. Tables
Which of these holidays are the most important or favorite for you? Please specify no more than 5 holidays.
* telephone survey (CATI), in previous years there was a F2F interview
How would you like to see Ukraine's relations with Russia?