Tymoshenko snaps at Poroshenko's heels

Tymoshenko snaps at Poroshenko's heels
Some 50% of respondents in a survey conducted two weeks before deputy prosecutor general Vitaliy Kasko’s resignation said that fighting corruption is the single most important area of reform needed in 2016.
By Henry Kirby in London March 2, 2016

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front party would have failed to win a single seat in parliament if elections had been held in February, a poll has found, while former premier Yulia Tymoshenko and her Fatherland party would have received more than 15% of the vote – nearly 10 percentage points more than it did in the 2014 general election.

The poll, by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS), asked respondents how they would have voted in hypothetical parliamentary and presidential elections in February.

The parties of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk were the only ones to receive ratings lower than the share of the popular vote that they received in the 2014 election, with the Poroshenko Bloc scoring 16.6% - 5.2pps lower than their 2014 vote share - and Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front scoring 2.5%, 19.6pps lower than in 2014.

The biggest gain was made by ex-PM Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party, which received a 15.1% rating, only 1.5pps less than the Poroshenko Bloc. Fatherland received only 5.7% of the popular vote in 2014.

Tymoshenko was imprisoned in 2011 under shaky charges of embezzlement and abuses of power dating back to her time as PM, but has been clawing back support since her release in 2014. She now sits only 5.7pps behind Poroshenko in KIIS’ presidential poll, at 17.1%. Poroshenko’s rating of 22.8% is a massive 31.9pps lower than the vote share with which he won the presidency in 2014.

The poll results show a relatively even distribution of support across five parties that, up until mid-February, made up the ruling, pro-European coalition that had led the country following the 2014 elections.

Since then, Tymoshenko’s Fatherland, and fellow coalition party Self Reliance, have quit the coalition, with Tymoshenko citing as a reason the “reign of a shadow clan-political coalition” controlling the government, following a failed attempt to engineer a parliamentaty vote of no confidence against PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk on February 16.

A further survey, by polling firm TNS Global, found that corruption is by far the biggest issue for most Ukrainians, with 50% of respondents in a survey conducted two weeks before Kasko’s resignation saying that fighting corruption is the single most important area of reforms in 2016.

The same survey found that the public prosecutor’s office was considered the second-most corrupt public institution in Ukraine, with 79% of respondents choosing it – only 5pps less than those who believed that Ukrainian courts are the most corrupt.

The failed attempt to oust Yatsenyuk came after two senior, reformist figures within Ukraine’s ruling administration resigned in quick succession, claiming that rampant corruption made their jobs impossible.

Reformist Economy Minister Aivaras Abromavicius resigned in protest against what he described as pressure “to be a cover for corruption” and to appoint “dubious people” to run state companies, while deputy prosecutor general, Vitaliy Kasko, who accused the prosecutor’s office of being a body “saturated with corruption and cover-ups” also stepped down.