Yuriy Matsiyevsky

Yuriy Matsiyevsky is Professor of Political Science and the Head of the Center for Political Research at Ostroh Academy National University (Ukraine).

He received his doctoral degree in political science from Lviv University in 1996 and habilitation from Ivan Kuras Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in 2016. Previously he studied at the Graduate School for Social Research, Warsaw, Poland.

His research interests are focused on Ukrainian politics, democratization, informal institutions and hybrid regimes.

Prof. Matsiyevsky has held several research fellowships, including a Fulbright award at Kennan Institute, Aleksanteri Institute’s visiting fellowship at the University of Helsinki, CEU research excellence fellowship and Carnegie Corporation fellowship at UC, Berkeley.     
Matsiyevsky is the author of Trapped in Hybridity: Zigzags of Ukraine’s Political Regime Transformations (1991-2014), (Books XXI, 2016, in Ukrainian). His papers appeared in Russian Politics and Law, Ideology and Politics, Communist and post-Communist Studies and Political Studies (Polis) among others. The most recent book chapter is “Western Leverage, Russia’s Resistance and the Breakdown of the Yanukovych Regime” In: Ukraine after Maidan. Revisiting Domestic and Regional Security. George Soroka and Tomasz Stepniewski (Eds.), Ibidem Press, 2018.  

At the PIASt Institute Yuriy Matsiyevsky explores the interplay between structural, institutional and agency-based factors as impediments to authoritarianism in Ukraine. This project is a part of a larger study of Ukraine’s regime dynamics since the Euromaidan revolution. It challenges a view that the request for a strong hand is a good predictor of pro-authoritarian attitudes in Ukraine and beyond.

Research project: Questioning Authoritarian Congruence: Why Authoritarianism has Weak Chances in Ukraine.

If Ukraine has not (yet) succeeded in establishing functional democracy what are the risks that the war-torn society will ultimately descend to authoritarianism? The global rise of illiberalism and Ukraine’s own post-revolutionary turbulence urged observers in and outside the country to warn about the resurgence of old and the emergence of new authoritarian threats in Ukraine.
Some argue that the threat of authoritarianism arises from the presidency itself in Ukraine. Every time the new president is elected, he tries to concentrate, rather than limit his power. Unprecedented in Ukraine’s post-independence history concentration of power in the hands of Volodymyr Zelensky’s party has been characterized as potentially dangerous for preserving fragile institutional balance. On the other hand, there is the request for a strong leader – a salient trend in Ukraine’s public opinion dynamics that has often been described as Ukrainians’ authoritarian predispositions.

While acknowledging these challenges, he nonetheless argues that none of the modern form of authoritarianism (personal, one party or military) is likely in the post-Euromaidan Ukraine. There are at least three groups of structural, institutional, and agency-based factors that make the emergence of the authoritarian regime in Ukraine highly improbable. These are: poor economy performance, poor leadership legitimacy, regional polarization, weak state repressive capacity, the relative weakness of the ‘party of power’, fragmented elite structure, the growing linkage with the West, semi-presidentialism, institutionalized hybridity, lack of charismatic leaders and unifying ideology and gravity of three (1990, 2004, 2014) waves of anti-authoritarian protest.

Theoretically this research draws on the congruence theory, pioneered by Almond and Verba (1966), Eckstein (1966, 1997) and recently developed by Inglehart and Welzel (2019). To paraphrase the congruence thesis, an authoritarian regime has a chance to succeed where the authoritarian authority pattern is at least tolerated and at most is supported by the ‘authoritarian mentality’ of the people. The project, therefore, seeks to extend the congruence argument to hybrid regimes by offering a set of propositions on why ‘the authoritarian congruence’ is hardly achievable in the post-Euromaidan Ukraine. The initial screening of the data taken from the several waves of World Values Survey suggest that Ukrainians share mixed (liberal and authoritarian) notions of democracy, but the former prevail and are supported by the positive score of emancipative values. Hence, Ukraine exhibits what might be called a ‘hybrid congruence’ that along with other factors prevent it from backsliding towards authoritarianism.

Dates of stay: 01 October 2020 - 31 July 2021