Two opposition parties top Ukraine opinion polls

Two opposition parties top Ukraine opinion polls
Disapproval of President Poroshenko grew to 73%, up from 65% in February of this year.
By Henry Kirby in London July 12, 2016

Ukraine’s Opposition Bloc party, made up predominantly of figures from ousted president Victor Yanukovych’s pre-Maidan government, and Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party would be the largest parties if a general election were held, a poll has found.

The study, carried out by Kyiv-based sociological researcher Rating Group Ukraine for the International Republican Institute (IRI), was conducted among 2,400 residents of Ukraine between May 28 and June 14 this year, and covered a number of political, economic and social topics, including current political preferences.

Of the respondents who said that they would vote in a hypothetical general election, the Opposition Bloc received the joint-highest rating in the poll, at 14%, alongside Batkivshchyna. In third place, at 11%, was incumbent President Petro Poroshenko’s “Solidarnist” party.

Of the main branches of government in Ukraine, the cabinet experienced the biggest improvement in rating, with disapproval falling by over a third, from 89% in February to 59% in June, after the resignation of prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in April and his replacement by parliamentary chairman Volodymyr Groysman.

“It’s no secret that the Poroshenko government has faced significant challenges, but this poll – one of many that IRI has conducted in recent years – could suggest a glimmer of hope for the newly-appointed Prime Minister [Groysman],” said Stephen Nix, IRI Regional Director, Eurasia.

However, despite improving by four percentage points since February, 71% of respondents believe that the country is heading in the wrong direction, while only 13% believe that things are improving.

81% of respondents said that they were either somewhat or strongly dissatisfied with the Ukrainian parliament (Rada). Disapproval of President Poroshenko grew to 73%, up from 65% in February of this year.

The poll findings show the exasperation among Ukrainians over government corruption and the way it is seemingly unable to pass much-needed reforms that the release of vital IMF funding is contingent on.

Despite the formation by former PM Yatsenyuk of a National Anti-Corruption Bureau, little has been done to fight the endemic graft and corruption among senior government officials in Ukraine. On July 8, Deputy Health Minister Roman Vasylyshyn was detained on suspicion of taking bribes only days after Ukraine's parliament endorsed criminal proceedings against Oleksandr Onyshchenko, a member of the Volia Narodu (People's Will) parliamentary group, who is allegedly involved in the embezzlement of state-owned natural gas.

The poll findings add weight to the claims levelled against not just Vasylyshyn and the Ukrainian healthcare system, but also a number of other public institutions in the country. As the chart below shows, 30% of respondents who had had dealings with medical establishments in the past 12 months said that they had paid a bribe to an official – more than any other public institution mentioned by respondents.

Of those who had dealt with the prosecutor’s office in the last 12 months, 41% claimed that an official had either asked for a bribe explicitly or suggested that a bribe would need to be paid, suggesting that endemic public sector corruption is a daily reality faced by many Ukrainians at all levels.

The disillusionment felt by many Ukrainians toward those running the country is best demonstrated in the poll by the fact that the most popular political figure in the country is currently Nadiya Savchenko, a former fighter pilot who while serving a 22-year prison sentence in Russia was sworn in as a Rada deputy. Current PM Groysman failed to receive a favourable rating from even a quarter of respondents, while President Poroshenko scored a lowly 19%.