East or West? Regional Political Divisions in Ukraine since the 'Orange Revolution' and the 'Euromaidan'
43 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2014
Date Written: 2014
This paper analyzes changes in regional electoral behavior and attitudes towards separatism and foreign policy orientation in Ukraine after the “Orange Revolution” and the “Euromaidan,” which turned into a violent internal conflict and one of the biggest international conflicts involving Western countries and Russia. The research question is whether the regional divisions concerning domestic politics, separatism and foreign orientation have changed significantly in Ukraine since the “Orange Revolution” in 2004 and the “Euromaidan” in 2014. This paper employs comparative and statistical analyses of voting results of the 2012, 2007, 2006, and 2002 parliamentary elections, and the 2014, 2010, and 2004 presidential elections, to examine effects of historical legacies, ethnicity, language, age, and economic factors on regional support for pro-nationalist/pro-Western and pro-Russian/pro-communist political parties and presidential candidates. The study also analyses support for separatism in Crimea and Donbas after the “Orange Revolution” and the “Euromaidan.” It uses a brief survey, conducted for this study by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) in April and May 2014, to examine determinants of pro-separatist attitudes. The paper also employs Razumkov Center and KIIS surveys to analyze changes in 2002-2014 in regional preferences for joining the European Union (EU), NATO, and a union with Russia. The analysis shows that Ukraine after the “Orange Revolution” remained divided along regional lines in terms of support for political parties and presidential candidates and attitudes towards joining the EU, NATO, and a Russia-led union. After the “Euromaidan,” such divisions in foreign policy orientation and, to a lesser extent, support for presidential candidates and political parties remained. A significant rise in separatist sentiments helped to fuel separatist takeovers of power in Crimea and Donbas and Russian military intervention in these regions.
Keywords: Ukraine, regionalism, public opinion, conflict, elections
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