Zelensky's rating fall: Unprofessional and unpopular reforms

Author : Viktor Ruzhynskyy

The rating of Volodymyr Zelensky fell from 73 to 52% in just two months. The president’s anti-rating almost tripled from 7% in September to 19% in November
22:27, 3 December 2019

Press Service of the President of Ukraine

Such data from a public opinion poll are cited by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology. Another study, which appeared a few days earlier, explains why this happened - according to the Democratic Initiatives Fund, the three decisions of the president and his team caused the greatest dissatisfaction of Ukrainians: opening the land market, legalizing gambling and privatization.

The same problem

The creation of a land market in Ukraine refers to the type of reforms that are unpopular but necessary. None of the presidents before Zelensky dared to do this. Petro Poroshenko constantly said that the land market is very necessary, that this is a civilized decision, but he knew very well that not only the parliament would not support it, but also the people. Without desire to risk the confidence of voters, which was already undermined, he left the land issue to those who followed him.

The progressive part of society met the adoption of the draft law on the sale of agricultural land with applause. It was obvious that the current president, having unprecedented popularity and the so-called mono-majority in the Verkhovna Rada, can make miracles. And he began to "freak out."

The President’s Office knew very well what they had known before: the people did not believe in the land market, they were afraid of it, because all the previous years politicians told about this by frightening fables. One of these “horror stories” was that foreigners were buying up Ukrainian land for nothing. And in 2019, nothing could be done about this either. More precisely, it would be possible if the new government began to prepare public opinion for a different point of view.

Instead, by turning on the turbo mode, Zelensky brought the land bill to a successful vote. But before that - even before the MPs pressed the green buttons - he said that the decision to introduce the land market had been made. By whom it was adopted, why, which one (with details), he did not explain. And then the president made a second statement: when the law is passed, then another law will be filed - on the referendum, so that as a result of the general will, it will be possible to find out whether land can be sold to foreigners or not.

The referendum in this story looks like pure manipulation. The data of polls clearly show that people are against the land market as such: 57.9 and 59%, respectively. This means that the results of the referendum are known for sure - of course, foreigners cannot buy our land! So why should we carry it out? It is needed to divert from Zelensky all the negativity associated with land reform, to relieve him of responsibility and prevent an even greater drop in confidence in him.

Losing bet

49% of Ukrainians do not support the idea of ​​legalizing. And here, too, everything was known in advance - this decision does not find support in society. Moreover, a survey conducted by the Rating sociological group in September showed that in fact, even more people are against gambling - 58%.

Nevertheless, the president convinced himself that the legalization of gambling could somehow attract investment and that people would appreciate it. On this occasion, he instructed Prime Minister Goncharuk to prepare a bill on legalization, and he promptly executed it. And, without waiting for the adoption of at least one of the laws, the Ministry of Finance entered 5 billion of revenues from the gambling business in the State Budget for 2020.

Meanwhile, the government bill, like many others, was tried to push through quickly and quietly. But it didn’t work out, as the expert community grasped what was written in these documents, and then received sight and said its word.

The fact is that Ukrainians are very positive about classical lotteries. All over the world they are not considered a game that causes fatal addiction. And worldwide lotteries are governed by a separate law. As a rule, several developed lottery operators work in developed countries and are closely monitored by government agencies. In our case, lotteries were in the same law with bookmakers and casinos. Why?

It turned out that the Cabinet of Ministers did not write the draft law, it used the services of Russian bookmakers, in particular, the Paris Match company. The lawyers of this company prepared such a draft law to legalize their already prosperous business. They also played along with the owners of expensive hotels so that they could open a casino. And at the same time, they prescribed such rules for all potential investors so that they would not have a single chance to enter the Ukrainian market. But Zelensky put investments at the forefront.

Related: Vice Prime Minister speaks on potential personal meeting between Zelensky and Putin

Ukrainian Institute of the Future held a round table on the idea of ​​legalization with the participation of market experts. And they all unanimously stated that this law plays into the hands of companies from the aggressor country, that is, Russia. It also contributes to the development of gambling addiction and in no way helps to attract investment and increase budget revenues - on the contrary, the market is even deeper plunged into the shade.

It is easy to predict that even before the adoption of the law on the gambling legalization, Ukrainians were negative. So after one of the projects is adopted, Zelensky’s rating will begin to fall with even greater acceleration, since gambling is in the top 3 decisions of the president, which not perceived by society.

The head of the expert council of the Ukrainian Analytical Center, Borys Kushniruk, told RBK Ukraine that if Zelensky does not stop the legalization of gambling and the introduction of the land market as it was voted in the first reading, the president will face a catastrophic drop in rating by the end of this year , and also all this together will provoke people’s unrest.

“Moreover, gambling and land are the two most powerful bombs that will explode at any moment,” the expert is sure.

Everything is collective, everything is mine

It’s easy to understand why Zelensky’s initiative to start large-scale privatization is perceived so negative - 55.5% think this is bad.

The secret of this attitude to privatization was absorbed by Ukrainians throughout the years of independence, as well as their attitude to the free land market. By and large, president’s team was supposed to prepare society for this, but did not.

In general, this whole story with unpopular solutions and a “turbo mode” highlighted another problem: the deepest unprofessionalism of the power team.

According to the poll, if in August only 24.9% believed that the lack of experience in politics among representatives of this government was a minus, now 40.8% think so. That is, amateurism and populism of the "servants of the people" is already very obvious and begins to cause irritation.

But Zelensky has a straw for which he could grasp: purely formally, all three unpopular decisions fall under the responsibility of the Cabinet, because it is it who introduces draft laws on land, gambling, and privatization. Not a president.

But in Ukraine, people associate almost all the most important decisions with the president, despite the fact that his constitutional powers are limited and more or less clearly defined. And, as we know, Zelensky is the initiator of all these laws. So it is he who will bear political responsibility, first of all. Yes, he can fire the government, but he and he alone will take all the negativity.

"Based on this, it is not clear what the authorities are counting on, especially considering that in August 50.5% of respondents believed that Ukraine was going in the right direction, then in November - 35.9% believed that. For such a short time "this is a very big fall, and it was gambling and the land market that played a very significant role in it. Let's just say: without such unpopular decisions the results of the survey would be completely different. All this indicates the high unprofessionalism of decision-makers," considers Kushniruk.

Thus, we can say that the president’s rating fell due to two main reasons: because of obviously unpopular decisions and because of their extremely low quality - on the verge of protectionism and corruption. That is, it is one thing to carry out painful but necessary reforms, and it is completely different to try to reform something that will require new reforms on the very next day.

But if Zelensky takes into account the data of opinion polls and makes a 180-degree turn in such problematic sectors as the land market, gaming business and privatization, then this will significantly redraw his entire strategy. It will already be some other Zelensky, very similar to previous presidents. Still, it is possible and necessary to blame the predecessors for unprofessionalism and corruption, but what's the point then to do the same thing as they did?

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