More Polling Data
Unfortunately, much of the commentary on Ukraine's politics (including some of my own) is based on impressions rather than more rigorous data analysis. The tendency to tea-leaf reading is a tradition in the study of the region, and is propelled by poor access to good data. The Pew Global Attitudes Project has just published results of a September 2009 survey that provides some insights into political dynamics in Ukraine. The survey confirms the findings of locally-managed surveys on the low popularity of the incumbent president, as well as conventional wisdom about the public's fatigue with the current state of politics. Notably, the multiparty system and capitalism experienced a drop in support from 1991-2009 (42 points for the multiparty system, 16 for capitalism). In addition, 69% of respondents supported "a strong leader" and 20% democratic government (of course, the two are not wholly incompatible). In 1991, 57% supported democratic government. While the differences may be due, in part, to the time points (the collapse of the communist system at on one end and the current economic crisis on the other may produce more extreme expressions of attitudes), the results correspond with local observations about public preferences for stability and decisive leadership in Kyiv.