Civics Citizenship

Elections and Democratization in Ukraine by Sarah Birch (auth.)

By Sarah Birch (auth.)

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Extra resources for Elections and Democratization in Ukraine

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Voters should have had all the potential for making conscious, deliberate choices and none of the incentives, or even the opportunities, to resort to group norms or behaviour learned through political socialization. But the ability to make a ‘rational’ choice or evaluation depends on more than just the quantity of information and cognitive sophistication a voter has at his or her disposal; it depends also on their quality and type. As a rule, the Soviet media provided the public with only very limited information as to the ideological differences between candidates in the elections of 1989 and 1990.

If ethnicity can be expected to play an important role in voting behaviour, the bulk of the evidence suggests that ethnic Ukrainian nationalism per se is not deeply-rooted among most sectors of the population. During the Soviet period ethnic Ukrainians had many opportunities to climb the career ladder in all-Union structures through cultural assimilation, facilitated by the high degree of bilingualism which their cultural similarity to Russians made possible (Motyl, 1987: 123–38; Pirie, 1996). Though nationalist aspirations were tentatively voiced in the 1960s under Shelest, this phenomenon was confined to a very small and elite sector of the population.

They were typically the principal providers of accommodation, leisure activities, and, in many cases, child care and educational facilities as well as consumer goods. People who worked together also lived together, shopped together, and went on holiday together. This may have had the effect of lessening ethnic and religious ties, but it strengthened regional and sectoral communities. Moreover, sub-occupational divides such as public- versus private-sector 24 Elections and Democratization in Ukraine employment and trade union membership which have fragmented class distinctions elsewhere did not exist in the Soviet Union, as virtually everyone was a unionized public-sector employee.

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