A Ukrainian perception of democracy
In the minds of Ukrainians, or at least those who participated in the recent research project of the Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the Razumkov Centre, Ukraine is stuck in the gap between dictatorship and democracy. Participants blame this dictatorial shift largely on the current regime. The research shows that since the Orange Revolution of 2004, which overturned a rigged presidential election, democracy has been the marginally preferred system of governance for Ukraine. Support for democracy peaked in 2006 and 2010 (52 percent) and dropped briefly in 2009 (36 percent) when 30 percent of the population favored authoritarianism. Close to half of Ukrainians (48 percent) agree that the politically repressive policies of the current regime have halted the development of democracy.
The international political community recognizes the weakness of Ukrainian democracy and the risks for the country should it slide into authoritarianism. Jerzy Buzek, president of the European Parliament, stressed that Kyiv should stick to democracy in his speech on Ukraine’s 20 years independence. The EU offers many positive incentives: market reforms, visa regime liberalisation and the Association Agreement on the free trade area.