Lecture by Paul Chaisty “Party voting in the 2014 Ukrainian Parliamentary Election: Continuity or Change”
On March 28, the Center for Russian studies hosted a lecture by Professor Chaisty, Gaidar Fellow of 2016, “Party voting in the 2014 Ukrainian Parliamentary Election: Continuity or Change.”
Professor Chaisty presented the results of research conducted with Stephen Whitefield from Oxford University. The Survey, conducted after 2014 Parliamentary elections , explored whether the election brought a fundamental change in political support for the parties within Ukraine.
The election of 2014, which took place after Maidan, appeared to be very significant and realigning. There was a significant change in the party system coexisting with high levels of stability in the voting patterns of Ukrainian citizens. Ukraine follows a typical post-communist electoral pattern: on the one hand, it is characterized by a very high level of fragmentation of party system (like Benin, Brazil, Belgium and Israel). The names and numbers of the parties change significantly from one election to the next. But at the same time, the cleavages that divide these parties have remained very stable. The main one is geopolitical orientation (negative vs positive attitude toward the Soviet period). The other is important cleavages along regional and linguistic lines.
Professor Chaisty presented the results of the survey conducted in 2014 and compared it with similar analyses of elections in Ukraine in 2007, 1998 and 1995. The factors that could influence party voters were divided in two groups: attitudinal ones that include dissolution of the Soviet Union, integration with the EU, support for Ukrainian democracy, support for the market, Ukrainian as the language of instruction in schools and socio-economic and demographic factors that include region, language, age, religion, etc. It appears that 2014 was in line with all previous elections. The geopolitical cleavage that dominated Ukrainian politics before 2014 was still alive and very important in 2014. Language and regions remained the main socioeconomic and demographic predictors of party voters. The 2014 elections did not challenge this cleavage and there is no evidence that any new issues emerged. The explanation of this phenomenon is that Ukraine is continuing to follow a predictable post-communist pattern: very high volatility of the party system and high stability of voter cleavages.