Ukrainian-Finnish research cooperation to enhance tools for election research

Dr. Vitalii Lebediuk is an expert on research of Ukrainian domestic politics. His current project is focused on analysis of patterns of local elections in Ukraine. With his mobility grant from the Finnish Research Council he plans to strengthen the collaboration between Ukrainian and Finnish political research.

Dr. Vitalii Lebediuk, an associate professor from the National University of Ostroh Academy, Ukraine, studies patterns of local elections in Ukraine and, especially, of the impact of political decentralization of Ukrainian local governance on their dynamics.

“According to the new electoral code, a proportional electoral system with open lists is to be introduced in Ukraine in the next elections, and it was first introduced in the local elections in 2020. Finland has a similar electoral system”, Lebediuk says. 

Lebediuk’s project is essential for a better scholarly understanding of contemporary Ukrainian politics and society and of sources of Ukraine’s resilience vis-à-vis Russian military invasion since 2022. This research implies extensive gathering and in-depth analysis of data on 2015 and 2020 local elections.

“The biggest challenge of the project is collecting data at the level of polling stations, as the Central Election Commission in Ukraine collects and publishes only aggregated data. In cooperation with various civic initiatives that study elections, I am trying to collect a unique dataset to test a number of hypotheses”,  the political scientists explains.

His visit and stay funded by the Academy of Finland mobility grant, aimed at supporting Ukrainian scholars and strengthening their collaboration with Finnish universities.

“The project was supposed to last for one year, but the Academy of Finland met me halfway and allowed me to extend the project until 2026 due to the Russian war against Ukraine and the limited opportunities for Ukrainian scientists to stay abroad. This is my third short-term visit.“

The opportunity of conducting this project in Finland during the period of 2023–2026 greatly benefited Vitalii due to the use of library, databases, and information resources of the University of Helsinki, and also due to consultations and collaboration with Finnish and international scholars within the vibrant multi-disciplinary community of the Aleksanteri Institute. The scientific ground for such cooperation is the research conducted by a team of scholars at the Aleksanteri Institute, led by Professor Vladimir Gel’man, an expert on politics and governance in the region of Eurasia, and his active collaboration with Dr. Lebediuk within this research.

The active cooperation between Dr. Lebediuk and scholars from the University of Helsinki will hopefully prove to be a valuable step towards building stronger research collaboration. 

“Undoubtedly, building a research network is a prerequisite for Ukraine's further integration into the European scientific and educational system.”