Celeste Beesley, Brigham Young University
Protest can be seen as a highly democratic expression of popular opinion. However, protest is also a non-representative, extra-institutional process for political change. In hybrid regimes, such as Ukraine, the legitimacy of effecting change through mass protest is a subject of debate. Do elections, even if flawed, confer legitimacy on leaders? Or do flaws in the electoral system render other methods of holding leaders accountable necessary and legitimate? Because mass protests have changed government leadership in Ukraine twice in less than a decade, individual citizens’ views on the democratic legitimacy of protest are potentially important in both their perceptions of their government’s legitimacy and in their personal investment in the electoral process. Using original survey data from three key Ukrainian cities in December 2013, this article finds that satisfaction with the functioning of democracy, partisanship, and the oft-cited regional divide are important determinants of approval for the specific Euromaidan protests. However, neither region of residence or partisan preferences, make Ukrainians significantly less likely to view protest as important in keeping government accountable in a democracy. However, among those Ukrainians less committed to democracy, protest is more likely to be seen as illegitimate.
PS: Political Science & Politics / Volume 49 / Issue 02 / April 2016, pp 244-249 / Copyright © American Political Science Association 2016