December 8, 2011

Confidence in Democracy and Capitalism Wanes in Former Soviet Union

82 to 95

Large majorities of people in three former Soviet republics — Russia (82%), Lithuania (91%) and Ukraine (95%) — believe that politicians far more than ordinary people have benefited from the changes that have taken place in their countries since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Two decades after the Soviet Union’s collapse, Russians, Ukrainians, and Lithuanians are unhappy with the direction of their countries and disillusioned with the state of their politics. Enthusiasm for democracy and capitalism has waned considerably over the past 20 years, and most believe the changes that have taken place since 1991 have had a negative impact.

Large majorities in all three nations believe that elites have prospered over the last two decades, while average citizens have not. A survey conducted in March and April by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project found that 82% of Russians believe politicians have benefited a great or fair amount from the changes over the last two decades. More than nine-in-ten Lithuanians (91%) and 95% of Ukrainians share that view. Majorities ranging from 76% to 80% in the three countries say that, after politicians, business owners have benefited the most. Only 11% of people in Ukraine, 20% in Lithuania and 26% in Russia believe that ordinary people have benefited from the changes.

This new survey reinforces a finding in a Global Attitudes study conducted in 2009 which highlighted the extent to which these publics are disillusioned with their political leadership. Few believed politicians listened to them or that politicians governed with the interests of the people in mind. Read More