So are voters prepared to sell their vote?
Cheering results on willingness to waive ones democratic choice for money, together with less positive (or surprising) findings regarding voter expectations and hopes, and attitude to elections, were the subject of a press conference to present the results of a survey just carried out by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the firm Ukrainian Sociology Service.
The nationwide survey was undertaken from 12 to 26 December 2009 with 2,010 respondents selected as a representative sample of the population according to gender, age, education, type and region of place of residence. The margin of error was no higher than 2.3%. The survey was carried out with the financial support of the International Renaissance Foundation.
- Only 4.5% believe that the elections will be totally honest, while an absolute majority expect violations. Among these 29.5% consider that there will be some violations, but that these will not influence the overall outcome; another 41% are convinced that there will be significant infringements which will affect the outcome; 14% expect that everything will be definitely rigged. Those voters who in the first and second rounds intend to vote against all particular expect violations.
- Overall people do not expect the presidential elections to help improve the situation in Ukraine. This position was expressed by 36%; almost as many – 33% - believe that the elections will change nothing, while 6% think that they will only worsen the situation. A considerable percentage – 24% - do not know whether the situation will change after the elections.
- The majority (61%) consider that their own participation in the presidential elections or their refusal to take part will undoubtedly (14%) or to a certain extent (47%) influence Ukraine’s future. The opposite point of view – that taking part in the elections will have no impact on Ukraine’s future – was held by 31%, with the others undecided. These same figures (62% and 31%) were received before the 2004 presidential elections.
- The majority of voters – 76% - are not prepared to sell their vote, i.e. agree to vote for a particular candidate. Less than 2% of said that they were certainly ready, regardless of the amount of money, to sell their vote; almost 6% - “if the amount suited”, while 13% said that they would if they planned to vote for that candidate anyway. The amount that “suited” those willing to sell their vote was generally over 500 UAH (13% would be willing for this amount). The most inclined to sell their vote are those who for the moment are leaning towards voting against all (18% would be ready to sell it if the price suited); the least – those planning to vote for Tyahnybok [leader of the far-rightwing VO “Svoboda” or Liberty Party] (87% would not sell their vote under any circumstances; Communist Party leader, Symonenko (80%); Hrytsenko (77%).
- Despite the fact that the majority of voters are not willing to sell their vote, public opinion does not especially condemn this practice. 53% unequivocally condemn the sale of one’s vote; another 33% are in general negative, but view it with understanding, because “people can have all kinds of situation”; while 10% are positive (“why not earn some money?”) When asked what the main reason was why people agree to sell their vote, 40% thought that this was due to their difficult financial situation (44%), a considerable number – 30% - said that it was because voters were “indifferent to all candidates”, while only 15% were inclined to explain the reason as being because people are greedy and will make money on anything.
- 39.5% of the respondents had checked that they were on the voter list. Among those who had not done so, two thirds were hoping that all would be OK, while 17% didn’t know how to do it. Another 19% answered that these elections were of no interest to them at all (largely those who do not plan to vote).
- Asked about which observers are most useful, views were split: 31% consider that the work of Ukrainian observers put forward by the candidates is most useful; 29% named the work of western observers; 29% - Ukrainian observers from civic organizations (we would note that the law does not allow for this, yet the population is inclined to support it); 24% - international observers from CIS countries. Only 21% see no use in the work of observers.
- Only 28% are inclined to consider that elections in Ukraine are a real mechanism of influence on the authorities, with far more not agreeing – 47% (the remainder did not give a definite answer). The main reason why elections in Ukraine have not become a mechanism for public participation in State affairs was seen by the majority as being that those they vote for do not keep their promises (this view was held by 54%). Major factors, in the respondents’ view, was also the lack of regular public scrutiny over elected representatives (27.5%); formation of executive power not in accordance with election results (24%); that people are too undemanding and passive with regard to elected representatives (22%).