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The Ukrainian Voter: Electoral Behavior in a New Democracy

Surzhko-Harned, Lena (2012) The Ukrainian Voter: Electoral Behavior in a New Democracy. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The “normalization” of politics in new democracies is an important concern of political science research. Normalization could refer to democratic consolidation when democracy “becomes the only game in town” (Linz and Stepan 1996). Some of the factors contributing to normalization are stable institutions, the rule of law, and transparency in power transfer, among others. Yet, it can be argued that the democratic process is normalized when programmatic parties compete for political office by wooing a sophisticated and knowledgeable electorate (Kitschelt 1992, 1995, 2000). This inquiry is a story of such normalization in the case of a new post-communist democracy – Ukraine. In the literature the Ukrainian public is depicted as highly apolitical, unsophisticated, and divided along the ethno-cultural regional cleavage which contributes to the problems of normalization of electoral competition. Moreover, there is a general sense that voters are “the least likely segment of Ukrainian polity" to influence political processes (Copsey 2005). Yet, the events of the Orange Revolutions showed otherwise. It does not seem reasonable any longer to ignore the Ukrainian voter and her role in the development of a democratic Ukraine. Recently Timothy J. Colton (2011) lamented the lack of the individual level analysis of Ukrainian electorate. This study is a decisive attempt to remedy this oversight. Using the survey data from International Foundation for Electoral Studies (IFES) from 1994, 1997 -2008 I develop and analyze a model of the sophisticated voter in the new democracy. I argue that over time, as voters have more experience with democratic processes, they learn how to properly link their own preferences with appropriate parties and candidates, relying on numerous factors including, but not limited to, the ethno-cultural and socioeconomic attributes, such factors as evaluation of the political leaders and issues are also instrumental in voter decision making. The results of this study have important implications for the study of Ukrainian politics and a broader literature on voting behavior. The curious case of the Ukrainian voter suggests a need to reexamine the theoretical and conceptual frameworks of democratic consolidation hypotheses as well as the developmental modes of electoral behavior.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Surzhko-Harned, Lenalms34@pitt.eduLMS34
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFinkel, Stevenfinkel@pitt.eduFINKEL
Committee MemberHurwitz, Jonathanhurwitz@pitt.eduHURWITZ
Committee MemberHarris , Jonathanjonharri@pitt.eduJONHARRI
Committee MemberMishler,
Date: 1 February 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 23 September 2011
Approval Date: 1 February 2012
Submission Date: 9 December 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 240
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: political behavior, electoral politics, new democracies, post-Soviet, Ukraine, correct vote
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2012 14:53
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:55


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