Party Issue Positions and Legislative Actions on Corruption in Ukraine, 2002 – 2017

by Nika Palaguta, Graduate School for Social Research, Polish Academy of Sciences

This research was funded by the Preludium grant of the National Science Centre, Poland [Narodowe Centrum Nauki]. Project number: 2017/25/N/HS6/01174. Project Name: Influence of party ideology and characteristics of parliamentarians on legislative actions on war, corruption and inequality in Ukraine [Wpływ ideologii partii i charakterystyk parlamentarzystów na działania ustawodawcze w sprawie wojny, korupcji i nierówności na Ukrainie].

What is corruption?

The most widely known definition of corruption is “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain” (Holmes 2015). Transparency International suggests three types of corruption: grand, petty and political. Grand corruption is a type of corruption happening on the highest levels of power and disrupting the functioning of state institutions; petty corruption is a small scale corruption that occurs among lower level state officials; political corruption, in contrast, is a manipulation of policies and rules for personal gain (Transparency International).

Corruption in Ukraine until Euromaidan

Corruption has been endemic in Ukraine since the country gained independence in 1991. Due to lack of government control on the initial stage of independence, corruption in Ukraine has become ubiquitous (Kalman 2004, Spector et al. 2006). After Euromaidan 2013/2014, when the country faced large-scale protests against attempts of implementation of authoritarian political practices by the dominant ruling party, the government officials should have started to implement some new anti-corruption legislation complying with the international norms (Fluri and Badrak 2016).

Ideology of Political Parties in Ukraine

Ideological positions expressed in electoral manifestos of political parties should be an indicator of the subsequent actions of the parliamentarians. Yet, when faced with countries with a weak party system, such as Ukraine (Kononchuk and Yiarosh 2010), the questions about the relevance of ideological positions for legislative action need to be revisited. Considering the last 25 years of electoral politics in Ukraine, the question arises as to the extent to which ideologies guide parties or the idea of “power for power’s sake” guides them. While there are more than 200 political parties in Ukraine, scholars suggest that major parties and blocs, and their parliamentarians, are more interested in the representation of business interests than that of the citizenry (Prymush 2014, Shveda 2012, Goniukova 2014, Kuzio 2014).

To study what Ukrainian political parties, blocs and parliamentarians in terms of their ideological positioning are inclined to embrace fight with corruption, I study electoral manifestos and legislative roll call voting on anti-corruption legislation in 2002 – 2017.

First, I measured ideological positions of political parties and blocs creating two scales of ideological positions (1) value positioning: conservative authoritarianism – liberalism; (2) economic positioning: state interventionism (statism) – economic liberalism.  In addition, the third scale measures positioning on the (3) populism scale: populism – pluralism. Then, to observe the link between issue position and legislative action, I used roll call voting data (the record of voting for each legislative act in the parliament) and parliamentary debates data.

To identify the legislation that deals with corruption, I use a targeted search using the key words: (a) corrupt (corruption) (“коруп”); (b) state serv… (state service) (“держ служб”); (c) publ… inform (publicly available information) (“публ інформац”). In total, I have collected 28 legislative acts. I merged the roll call voting data and coded manifesto data with EAST Pac Ukraine to (a) examine voting on particular legislative act and (b) construct multilevel cross-classified regression models exploring the associations between party ideological positions and voting for groups of legislative acts. I complemented the roll call voting data with the parliamentary debates data to study the motivation behind adoption of certain legislative acts and policies.  (1) East European Parliamentarian and Candidate Database (EAST PaC)[1] containing the universe of parties, candidates, and parliamentarians for national elective office in Ukraine (2002 – 2014).

Analyses and Results

I found that Ukrainian political parties and blocs pay attention to the issues related to corruption in their manifestos. Nonetheless, adoption of anti-corruption legislation has been slow so far: using the key-words search, I have identified 28 legislative acts dealing with corruption. The results of quantitative analysis show that Ukrainian there is a small (0.07) statistically significant association between populist parties and blocs and voting for the anti-corruption legislation: the more populist the party is the more the parliamentarians belonging to this party are inclined to support this type of legislation. Value positions (conservative authoritarianism – liberalism) and economic positions (statism – economic liberalism) show no statistically significant associations with voting for the anti-corruption legislation.


Overall, while the topic of corruption and adoption the anti-corruption legislation appears frequently in the manifestos of political parties and blocs, parliamentarians are reluctant to support implementation of necessary legislation regardless of their ideological positions.


Fluri, Philipp and Valentyn Badrak. 2016. Anti-Corruption Measures in Ukraine after the Revolution of Dignity: Key Legislative Aspects, Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies, Kyiv.

Goniukova, Lilia. 2014. ‘Political Parties in Ukraine: Modernity and Development Prospects’ [Політичні партії України: сучасність та перспективи розвитку]. Information-analytical edition ‘Analitical Notes’ [Аналітичні записки], Democratic Intitiatives Fundation of Ilka Kucherev [Демократичні ініціативи імені Ілька Кучеріва].

Kalman, Alexander G. 2004. Organized Economic Crime and Corruption in Ukraine 2004. The Report by U.S. Department of Justice.

Kononchuk, Svitlana and Oleh Yiarosh. 2010. Ukrainian Party System: Ideological Dimension. Kyiv: Ukrainian Independent Center for Political Studies.

Kuzio, Taras. 2014. ‘Re-evaluating democratic revolutions, nationalism and organized crime in Ukraine from a comparative perspective. Introduction,’ Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 47 (2): 191-193.

Prymush, Mykola. 2014. ‘Ideological crisis of Ukrainian Political Parties’, Bulletin of National Law Academy (of Yaroslaw Mudrii) of Ukraine 1: 195-202.

Spector, Bertram I., Svetlana Winbourne, Jerry O’Brien and Eric Rudenshiold. 2006. Corruption Assessment: Ukraine. Final Report, World Bank.

Shveda Yurii. 2012. ‘Political parties or simulacra?’, May 29. Retrieved March 7, 2016 (

[1] EAST PaC is a product of the research grant, “Who Wins and Who Loses in the Parliamentary Elections? From Formal Theory to Empirical Analysis,” funded by Poland’s National Science Centre (Sonata Bis decision number 2012/05/E/HS6/03556) PI: Joshua Kjerulf Dubrow.

Political Inequality of Women in Ukraine: Conservatism and Enduring Stereotypes

by Nika Palaguta, Graduate School for Social Research, Polish Academy of Sciences

This research was funded by the Preludium grant of the National Science Centre, Poland [Narodowe Centrum Nauki]. Project number: 2017/25/N/HS6/01174. Project Name: Influence of party ideology and characteristics of parliamentarians on legislative actions on war, corruption and inequality in Ukraine [Wpływ ideologii partii i charakterystyk parlamentarzystów na działania ustawodawcze w sprawie wojny, korupcji i nierówności na Ukrainie]. Principle Investigator: Nika  Palaguta. Project website: Ukraine: War, Corruption, and Inequality

Political inequality of Women in Ukraine

Women have a long-standing high level of political inequality in national legislatures in Ukraine. Despite that gender equality principles in national legislation should guarantee equal rights and opportunities in economic and political life to both men and women, some national policies may enhance gender stereotypes and hamper advancement of women’s rights. The former Soviet Union had ambiguous approach to gender equality, which despite encouraging women’s participation in some areas of economic life, kept their political influence very limited. According to data from the Inter Parliamentary Union, from 1991 to 2018, the share of women in the Ukrainian parliament never exceeded 12 per cent.

Palaguta Women Inequality 2019

Political Consequences of Conservativism and Stereotypes of Women in Ukraine

I argue that one of the reasons for enduring political inequality of women in Ukraine stems from the conservative views shared by political parties and parliamentarians. I have found that Ukrainian political parties and blocs have paid little or no attention to promotion of gender equality and women’s rights in their manifestos without talking against women.

The analysis of the party and block manifestos reveals that only five parties in the Ukrainian Rada over the span of 15 years have mentioned in their electoral documents gender equality or women’s rights. Family values, traditions, and motherhood in contrast appear 44 times. Support for the low income and large families as well as promotion of state assistance for the childbirth remains the main issue addressed in the electoral manifestos of the parties.

Similarly, I found that Ukrainian political parties and blocs, regardless of their ideological positions, pay much more attention to the defense of family values, traditions, and motherhood, while the questions of gender equality and women’s rights are lesser addressed. Out of 145 legislative acts identified through targeted search that concern women, 107 deal with family, children, childbirth and state aid for the large and low-income families, and four more promote childbirth increase. The more ideologically conservative is the Ukrainian party or bloc parliamentarians belong to, the more they are inclined to support such legislation with their votes. Parliamentarians mostly explain their decisions family related legislation by the low birthrate and difficult demographic situations. Overwhelmingly, the parliamentarians defend their positions by pointing out the need to support traditional families. Many insist that women should have as many children as possible to solve Ukrainian ‘demographic crisis’, others insist on the teleological arguments, highlighting that motherhood is either a ‘purpose’ of women, or a debt to the society. Others reject the very notion of ‘gender’ perceiving it, along with homosexuality, as a part of alien Western values that they consider to be detrimental for Ukrainian society.

The pattern of supporting the image of women-mothers and child-minders persists overtime and is vocalized by the parties and blocs of otherwise polar political positions and originating in various parts of the country. In contrast, gender egalitarian positions have not received wide popularity in electoral manifestos, legislation, or debates. Economic reasons and traditions largely dictate the persistence of the overall trend of the promotion of women’s roles as mothers and child-minders. In many instances, parliamentarians support such trends invoking a conservative view of what is beneficial for women without intention to discriminate against them. However, these conservative views apparently reinforce a belief of connection between gender and homosexuality, which many parliamentarians fiercely oppose and address in dismissive manner or with negative comments. Nonetheless, there are many liberal parliamentarians who support equality of genders and sexualities and vocalize their opinion during the debates. Frequently such speakers are women.

Workshop: Women’s Political Inequality in Poland and Ukraine

We announce the workshop, “Women’s Political Inequality in Poland and Ukraine: Theory Statements and Empirical Research,” on April 23, 2019 at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences (IFiS PAN), Warsaw, Poland (Pałac Staszica, Nowy Świat 72, Warsaw, Room 154).

This one-day workshop brings together scholars of Poland and Ukraine on women’s political inequality. Scholars will present and discuss studies on women’s political participation and the representation of women in government, including women’s presence in parliament and the representation of their interests.

The workshop will focus on (a) theory, methods, and results of original research on women’s political inequality in Poland and Ukraine; (b) challenges of conducting empirical research on the subject; and (c) networking and discussing possibilities of international co-operation. Presentations will be in English.

This workshop is funded by the National Science Centre, Poland (2017/25/N/HS6/01174), “Impact of Party Ideology and Parliamentarian Biography on Legislative Action on War, Corruption and Inequality in Ukraine.” The Principle Investigator of the grant and the workshop organizer is Nika Palaguta, PhD candidate at the Graduate School for Social  Research,  IFiS PAN.

Workshop on Women’s Political Inequality in Poland and Ukraine PROGRAM

Workshop on Women’s Political Inequality in Poland and Ukraine TITLES AND ABSTRACTS



Elections during War: Political Inequality of Ukraine’s IDPs

by Dorota Woroniecka-Krzyżanowska, University of Lodz, and Nika Palaguta, Polish Academy of Sciences

By law, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) should enjoy all the relevant rights and freedoms guaranteed by the legal system. In a recent article in the Journal of Refugee Studies, the authors explain how IDPs living under military conflict in Ukraine suffer inequality under discriminatory legislation and practices that deny IDPs equal opportunities for electoral participation. The authors suggest solutions to this ongoing problem.

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are citizens who, despite being forced to move, live within the boundaries of their own country. By law, IDPs should enjoy all the relevant rights and freedoms guaranteed by the legal system. In addition to any domestic laws, the rights and freedoms of internally displaced are reaffirmed by a set of internationally-recognized standards for assistance and protection to IDPs called the Guiding Principles of Internal Displacement. These Principles assert IDPs’ rights for full equality in their home country: this includes the right for political representation and participation.

The reality on the ground often falls short of the Principles, including discriminatory electoral legislation and practices across different geographical and political contexts.

The example of IDPs living under military conflict in Ukraine shows how discriminatory legislation and practices deny displaced persons equal opportunities for electoral participation.

Continue reading “Elections during War: Political Inequality of Ukraine’s IDPs”