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Ukraine still backs Zelenskyy despite slow progress


Expectations Volodymyr Zelenskyy would end the armed conflict with Russia or jail corrupt officials have faded, but so have fears he would sell out to oligarchs or the Kremlin.

Halfway through his presidential term, the popularity of Volodymyr Zelenskyy has substantially declined as, having won 70 per cent of the vote when elected he now only commands 25 per cent support at the ballot box. But despite such dwindling numbers, he remains the most popular Ukrainian politician with support across Ukraine and a strong chance of re-election.

The main reasons behind such a decline in popularity are his unrealistic election promises mixed with voters’ equally unrealistic expectations, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. But in addition, deeply entrenched mistrust in central government has long been a key feature of Ukrainian political culture.

Almost all the country’s presidents fell quickly from voters’ favour – mistrust in Victor Yanukovych overtook trust just five months after he took office while, for Poroshenko, it was seven months. In fact, Zelenskyy’s positive trust rating for a whole year is a record.

COVID-19 and the subsequent economic hardship have taken a heavy toll on households, and Ukrainians have a negative view of Zelenskyy’s management of the pandemic as well as of his handling of the economy and struggles to curb corruption and oligarchs’ influence.

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