Tymoshenko leapfrogs Poroshenko in poll as Ukraine political crisis rumbles on

Tymoshenko leapfrogs Poroshenko in poll as Ukraine political crisis rumbles on
Tymoshenko’s gains appear to have been made almost solely at the expense of Poroshenko’s support base.
By Henry Kirby in London March 17, 2016

Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party would win a snap parliamentary election in Ukraine this month, a poll has found, while the party of President Petro Poroshenko would come third.

The parliamentary approval poll, conducted by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology (KIIS), shows the Poroshenko Bloc falling from first to third place, while Fatherland’s 3.5 percentage point (pp) gain pushes it up to become the country’s most popular party.

A month of public disarray and indecision in Ukraine’s parliament (Rada) appears to have taken its toll on the reputation of Poroshenko and his Poroshenko Bloc party, resulting in a 5.2pp drop to 11.4% in only a month, as the bneChart below shows.

When the same poll was conducted in February, Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party sat 1.5pps behind the president’s party. In the three weeks between the polls, Fatherland has turned a 1.5pp deficit into a massive 7.2pp lead over the Poroshenko Bloc, while also putting it 5.4pps ahead of its nearest rival, the Opposition Bloc party.

The 18.6% that Fatherland is currently polling would not be enough to win an outright majority in the Rada, but it instead speaks to the waning popularity of the president, his party, and the frustrations of the electorate as a whole.

Respondents were also offered the choice of answering anonymously, via a secret ballot system. Among those answering anonymously, the gap between Fatherland and the Poroshenko Bloc was even greater, rising to 9.6pps.

The popularity of the country’s floundering prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and his People’s Front party continues to plummet, with its rating falling from an already low 2.5% down to 1.9%. Neither share of the popular vote would be enough to win the party a single seat in the Rada.

The same poll also asked respondents how they would vote were there to be a presidential election in mid-March this year. Once again, Tymoshenko turned a losing position into a comfortable winning one in less than a month, with a 3.8pp boost in popularity to 20.9%, putting her 3pp ahead of Poroshenko, whose rating fell from 22.8% in February to 17.9% in the latest round of polling by KIIS.

As the second bneChart shows, most other candidates have seen next to no change in their ratings, suggesting that Tymoshenko’s gains have been made almost solely at the expense of Poroshenko’s support base.

The bizarre resignation and subsequent return to office of Ukraine’s controversial Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin this week is the latest in a series of political events that have included a botched attempt to oust Prime Minister Yatsenyuk and the collapse of the ruling reformist coalition in less than a month.

As the third bneChart shows, the increasingly soap opera-like goings on appear to be testing the patience of Ukrainians, with the poll finding that nearly half of respondents believe that the best solution would be a wholesale replacement of the government and the instalment of a new prime minister. Some 3.9% even called for another revolution, less than two years after the Maidan uprising, which enabled the current government to win power.