According to Ukrainian experts, an “ideal” Ukrainian politician should respect the law and the people, be independent, friendly and ensure the country’s security. But in fact, the prevailing politicians’ desires are power and success. When speaking in public, they try to present themselves better than they are, and when trying to talk about humanity and other values, they use a confusing language and most Ukrainians can hardly understand them. These are the results of the first phase of the study “Political class of Ukraine: European values and political speech” conducted by NOKS FISHES and Center for Research of Public Policy and Communications.
“Overall, we can see that our political class, according to experts, enjoys life and appreciates having power levers, but they lack goodwill, the ability to respect people regardless of their financial status, the ability to be versatile, have a good education and professional skills. And it is really hard for them to live within the existing legal framework,” said Natalia Kononenko, managing partner, research company NOKS FISHES, while presenting the study at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Methodology and phases
The study was conducted over 2016. The first phase was devoted to examining what Schwartz scale values are predominant in European societies. The second phase included analysis of 30 selected politicians’ public speeches in June – September 2016 to determine what values they tried to promote and how they positioned themselves. The politicians were selected for the study so that they represented the new and the old political class, different branches of government and civil society. Concurrently, Ukrainian experts took part in a survey and were asked to create a perfect portrait of the Ukrainian political elite, determine the selected politicians’ level of different values , and compare the ratio to that of Europeans.
The ideal profile of a Ukrainian politician
“The ideal profile” of a politician, outlined by experts, virtually coincides with European values. He should be universal, independent, friendly, care about security. But the dominant characteristic in this profile is not goodwill, like in Europe, but conformity (willingness to live within the existing legal framework).
The real profile of a politician
Expert assessment revealed that Ukrainian politicians focused mainly on their own achievements and are fond of good living. Political power both as a goal in itself and material factor is crucial in the value paradigm. According to experts, the value block “power – wealth – achievements” was prevalent over the block “openness to changes – self-sufficiency – stimulation – hedonism” in almost all politicians. None of the politicians under study met an ideal standard defined by the experts in the block “conservative values”: the ability to live and work in accordance with current legislation. “The closest conformity to conservative standards, according to experts, was demonstrated by Vakarchuk, Sadovyi, Jaresko, Parubiy, Klympush-Tsintsadze, Syroid, Poroshenko and Hroisman. Avakov, Muraiev, Tymoshenko, Kernes and Liashko are farthest from the “conservative” group,” informed Natalia Kononenko. The group “universalism-friendliness”, which occupies a highly important place in the European system of values, is weakly manifested in the “ideal profile” of Ukrainian politicians.
The speech analysis revealed that politicians try to seem better than they actually are. Sytnyk, Vakarchuk, Syroid, Kholodnytskyi, Avakov, as well as Tymoshenko, Liashko and Kernes most often stressed the necessity to adhere to the law. However, according to experts, the latter politicians do not demonstrate adherence to these principles by personal example. Politicians do not mention the desire for power and success in their public statements. The speech analysis revealed that the “most modest” are Tymoshenko, Yaresko, Liashko, Leshchenko and Kernes.
Friendliness was most often mentioned by Sytnyk, Vakarchuk, Kholodnytskyi, Avakov, Herashchenko, Syroid and Muraiev, and least often by Soboliev, Tymoshenko, Sevostianova and Kernes. The block “openness to change s- self-sufficiency – stimulation – hedonism” is most clearly expressed in the statements of Sytnyk, Vakarchuk, Soboliev Muraiev and Kholodnytskyi.
The study also showed that neither experts nor politicians themselves cannot definitely decide between “development values” and “self-defense values”. “The Europeans are more focused on growth and support of socially important things, whereas the Ukrainian elite is ambivalent about them. They allege that stand for growth, but at the same time they stand for self-defense. In our opinion, it is one of the reasons of slowed modernization of Ukraine,” noted Olesia Chernysh, expert, research company NOKS FISHES.