Last party ratings before the finish line
І. Overviews of political events of the week
If the parliamentary elections were held at the end of September, 5 parties would overcome the 5% threshold. Such are the results of sociological surveys conducted by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation in conjunction with the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS). According to the results of the survey, 23.3% of the electorate is prepared to vote for the Party of Regions, 16% for the UDAR party of Vitaliy Klitschko, 15.1% for Batkivshchyna and 10.1% for the Communist Party of Ukraine. 5.1% of the electorate is prepared to vote for the Svoboda party, which would surpass the electoral threshold. 2.1% of the electorate is ready to vote for party led by Natalia Korolevska Ukraina-Vpered and 1.3% - for Our Ukraine. The number of voters that are undecided considerably grew to 24%.
MP candidates are spending considerably more on their election campaigns than declared by their foundations, the coordinator of the civil organization OPORA Olha Aivazovska informed. She said the first results of the research of the “Zvidky hroshi” program showed that contenders close to the ruling party spend the most and the most popular instruments of influence on voters is advertising and media. Compromises, bribing voters and members of election commissions and paid articles in the mass media are characteristic methods that will be applied in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
The IFES (International Foundation for Electoral Systems) group of international observers for the parliamentary elections in Ukraine noted a number of violations in the election laws. Representatives of IFES mostly complain about the method of appointing members of the election commissions, formation of the Central Election Commission and the lack of control over the financing of canvassing.
Premier Mykola Azarov stated that Ukraine should simultaneously be a member of the Customs Union and the Free Trade Zone. He said it is critical that Ukraine preserve these two markets as the market of countries that are members of the Customs Union accounts for 65% of the turnover of goods in Ukraine and the remaining 35% falls on member countries of the Free Trade Zone.
Civil activists and representatives of intellectual circles urged patriotic political parties that according to the results of sociological research cannot surpass the 5% threshold for a seat in parliament to not run in the elections and give their votes to the benefit of political opposition forces.
The system of monitoring of violations during the voting process in the parliamentary elections in Ukraine has started to function, President Viktor Yanukovych stated. He said employees of the Interior Ministry and local bodies of power that will quickly respond to violations of the election law or certain administrative violations related to the parliamentary elections have been activated in the monitoring system.
Observers from CIS countries informed that they do not foresee any violations in the election campaign in Ukraine. Representatives of the CIS Inter-parliamentary Assembly to which 35 deputies from eight countries of the CIS belong gave a positive assessment of Ukraine’s electoral laws.
Meanwhile, in the interim report of the ENEMO organization, which is observing the pre-election campaign, it was noted that the use of administrative resources in the election campaign in Ukraine is growing.
The Ukraina-Vpered political party headed by Natalia Korolevska filed a lawsuit demanding that the courts ban the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology from publishing any ratings of this political force. The party’s press service explained that it is demanding the denial of information about the low ratings of the party made public by the aforementioned sociological agencies.
Only 9% of Ukrainian citizens are confident that the parliamentary elections will be fair and will not be rigged, the results of public opinion polls conducted by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation and Kyiv International Institute of Sociology showed. Director of DIF Iryna Bekeshkina said 34% of the voters believe there will be certain violations that will have a significant impact on the final results of the elections. At the same time, it is presumed that the results will be distorted and 31% of citizens say the elections may be rigged and 16% are certain that they definitely be rigged.
The Sobor party recalled its list of candidates for a seat in parliament from the election race. Leader of the party and member of the OU-PSD Pavlo Zhebrivskiy said the party’s leadership approved such a decision seeing as the party will not surpass the 5% threshold to win a seat in the Verkhovna Rada. At the same time, the leader of Sobor said the party does not intend to recall its candidates that were nominated by parties in first-past-the-post constituencies.
The UDAR party announced at its congress recently held in Kyiv that it withdrew 26 candidates running for a seat in first-past-the-post constituencies to the benefit of its colleagues in the opposition. In the statement it was noted that UDAR hopes that Batkivshchyna will also do the same and recall its candidates from 22 constituencies to the benefit of the opposition forces.
30,000 Ukrainians participated in the March of Struggle in Kyiv dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). The participants demanded that the title of Hero of Ukraine be returned to Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych, the struggle of the OUN-UPA be recognized as a national emancipation of the Ukrainian nation and that October 14, the day UPA was founded, be declared an official state holiday.
II. Analytical Reference
- Democratic processes
LAST PARTY RATINGS BEFORE THE FINISH LINE
On October 8 the Democratic Initiatives Foundation presented at a recent press conference the results of its nationwide sociological polling “Elections-2012: for whom will the electorate vote and with what intentions?” conducted jointly with the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) from September 18-October 4, 2012.
The polling was conducted in 111 populated areas in all oblasts of Ukraine and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea based on a quota sample representing the adult population of Ukraine. A total of 2,043 respondents were surveyed. The margin of error did not exceed 2.2%.
What are the ratings of the main political forces in Ukraine a month before the elections?
What will the main political parties do in the time that remains before voting?
Holding back the leaders
Over the past month and a half that has passed the last rating survey conducted by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation from August 10-15, 2012 significant changes were note in the sympathies of Ukrainian voters. The leaders of both parties running in the upcoming parliamentary elections sustained tangible losses in their ratings.
In particular, the level of support of the ruling Party of Regions fell by nearly 5% from 28.1% to 23.3%.
Clearly, this can be attributed to the gradual exhaustion of potential to coax voters at the expense of the so-called social initiatives of President Viktor Yanukovych. Understanding that such initiatives are not reinforced by realistic socio-economic growth, a part of the voters once again pondered the expediency of voting in favor of the ruling party. Besides that, it is glaringly obvious that the pre-election canvassing by the Party of Regions, which is banking more on the apparent ruins that the previous ruling power left behind than on its own achievements. As a result, the ruling party remains the leader in the election race, but has exhausted its potential for a further growth in its ratings.
Be that as it may, the latest ratings of the still popular opposition party Batkivkivshchyna give more grounds for concern: over a month and a half its rating drastically fell from 25.6% to 15.1%. It is quite difficult to explain such a nosedive by one single factor.
On the one hand, the low quality of canvassing by the opposition alliance, both in terms of content (the absence of concrete platform slogans and realistic promises) and in form (wishy-washy outdoor advertising), are partially to blame for such a drop in ratings.
On the other hand, Batkivshchyna clearly became a victim of circumstance and its leadership nature: after it became totally understood that its leader Yulia Tymoshenko cannot run in the elections sitting in prison and her surname will not even be listed in the election ballots, a better part of supporters of this opposition force decided to reconsider its preferences. Sociological data testifies to this assertion: over the last several years the main motive of more than 50% of the voters supporting Batkivshchyna was the favorable attitude towards its leader. It is absolutely clear that none of today’s leaders of this party can evoke such sympathy among voters as Tymoshenko did.
The situation with Batkivshchyna is an indicator of two important political trends at the very least. First of all, it points to a congenital weak spot of a leading party: for a number of reasons the loss of its leader’s charisma precipitates a sharp decline in popularity and the effectiveness of the party’s functionality. For Ukraine this norm has a particularly significant meaning for Ukraine as the overwhelming majority of parties over the years of its independence to a greater or lesser extent had a leadership nature.
Secondly, the sharp decline in popularity of the Batkivshchyna party shows that the results of the will of the people in the next elections has already been considerably deformed as those voters that were prepared to vote for Tymoshenko’s party are now forced to choose from among the other options due to the politically motivated imprisonment of their idol. Given this fact, at the moment it is difficult to call the upcoming elections absolutely democratic.
Reinforcement of the second echelon
The picture becomes clearer if to look at the rise in the popularity of another opposition party – namely, Vitaliy Klitschko’s UDAR: its rating grew from 11.5% to 16%. It is most probable that a better part of former supporters of Batkivshchyna, who earlier voted for Tymoshenko, found a new leader in the opposition field – Vitaliy Klitschko.
Here it is quite telling that the rating of UDAR all throughout Ukraine grew almost proportionally having gained the sympathies of voters in different regions of the country that are dissatisfied with the current ruling power. In this sense, UDAR is going down the same path as Batkivshchyna. Moreover, the threats to this political force (UDAR) are similar to those of Batkivshchyna, albeit are even more acute: due to its amorphous nature and relatively weak organizational structure the loss of its leader may result in not only a fall in its ratings, but also threatens the existence of the party itself due to a number of circumstances. Accordingly, the managers of UDAR must focus their attention on reducing the dependence of the party on its leader and strengthening its organizational capacities.
The Communist Party of Ukraine, which increased its rating from 8.2% to 10.1%, has grounds for optimism. While the potential electorate of this political force has clearly been revived due to the disappointment of Ukrainian voters with the Party of Regions, they are not ready to give their vote for the opposition forces.
The pre-election canvassing by the CPU played a significant role here as it successfully played on the protest moods of a large number of citizens. Furthermore, it is quite telling that many of the new supporters of the Communist Party did not pay attention to the manipulative nature and the blank words of its slogans. Indeed, in its advertisements the CPU positioned itself as an opposition force to the ruling power, though in the adoption of the majority of important laws it voted in unison with the Party of Regions. This was yet further unfortunate testimony to the fact that the Ukrainian electorate, a part of which perceived what was desired as true, is inadequately informed.
So, the CPU once again managed to surf the wave by deceiving its supporters.
For the first time in years the national party Svoboda managed to overcome the threshold for a seat in parliament. According to polling results, it has the support of 5.1% of voters. The negligible though important rise in the level of its popularity (from 3.8% in August) was most likely possible thanks to a certain redistribution of voters inclined to vote for the opposition, mainly former supporters of Batkivshchyna.
While the accentuated pre-election canvassing of the Svoboda party and the coordination of candidates in first-past-the-post constituencies of Batkivshchyna was tangible, it is still too early to count the deputy mandates of the second political force.
First of all, the reserve of 0.1% over the threshold is considerably lower than the statistical margin of error of polling (2.2%), meaning that it does not guarantee winning a seat in parliament.
Secondly, given such a borderline indicator the ruling power may resort to vote-rigging against this opposition forces to block it from gaining a seat in parliament. For this reason the chances of Svoboda to a great extent depend on its capacity to counteract possible electoral violation together with other opposition forces.
In closing, the latest ratings of parties contending for victory by party lists could offer them a number of reasons to seriously think out their future strategy. The leader in the party race – the Party of Regions – has once again lost its potential for increasing its ratings due to its inability to demonstrate to potential voters realistic socio-economic achievements over two and a half years in power.
As a result of Yulia Tymoshenko not being allowed to run in the next elections the Batkivshchyna party was dealt a serious blow to its ratings. Many voters found a new political leader in Vitaliy Klitschko as a result of which the level of support of his party continued its impressive rise. Two ideological antagonists somewhat increased their popularity: the Communist Party of Ukraine, which built is canvassing campaign on deceiving voters, and Svoboda, which continues to fight for party representation in the Verkhovna Rada.
Focus jn Ukraine” – weekly informational-analytical news bulletin prepared by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation (http://dif.org.ua).