Man of the Year

Six months after the elections there is no alternative to Petro Poroshenko

Six months after the elections there is no alternative to Petro Poroshenko
The president is firmly gripping the power in his hands for now
Photo: Ukrainian foto

If the presidential elections were to be held this Sunday and the composition of the candidates was the same as in May Petro Poroshenko would have won again and with a good breakaway from his rivals as Ukrainians do not see an alternative for the office of the country’s president. Be that as it may, the level of trust towards Poroshenko has recently fallen considerably and it continues to decline.

Electorate stayed

A survey of voters conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) in December showed that 26% of the respondents are today ready to vote for the current president. The data of the sociologists, which Capital has a copy of, indicates that around 52% of the respondents do not plan to vote in the elections or are undecided as to which candidate to vote for. This, theoretically, almost doubles the percentage of the votes for Poroshenko. “If the elections were to be held now Poroshenko would win again and possibly in the first round a second time. The popularity rating of all candidates who ran in the presidential elections in May remained at approximately the same level, while Tymoshenko’s popularity dropped. None of these candidates have made a good showing over this period, which is why Poroshenko’s rating has remained stable. There is no alternative to him,” General Director of KIIS Volodymyr Paniotto told Capital.

The data indicates that Poroshenko still enjoys the support of over a third of the electorate polled in the western, central and southern regions of the country. In the east only 8.4% support him.

At the elections on the last Sunday of May he garnered nearly 55% of the votes, having won in almost all regions of the country where voting was held. In fact, he only lost in one constituency in the Kharkiv oblast to the candidate of the Party of Regions Mykhailo Dobkin. “It would be incorrect, however, to compare this to the presidential elections, where Poroshenko garnered nearly 55% of the votes. Back then the spin technique of elections in one round was successfully applied. For this very reason it is difficult to say whether this was about supporting Poroshenko or the desire of the people for elections to end as soon as possible,” said Director of the Democratic Initiatives Foundation Iryna Bekeshkina. She says the current result of the electoral support of Poroshenko is very high, particularly taking into account the difficult situation with the country’s economy, devaluation of the national currency and the military conflict in the Donbas.

“Poroshenko’s rating is based more on the trust of Ukrainians to his personality, seeing as there have been no positive external factors and the fact that the country has not seen any success. The second factor that influences such a high popularity rating is the absence of an alternative, when people say “if not him, then who?” For example, Yushchenko had an alternative – Tymoshenko,” says Bekeshkina.

Trust is declining

Paniotto says that even despite the increase in the electoral support of the president towards the year’s end, the rating of people’s trust towards Poroshenko is dropping. Several months ago sociologists registered that the number of people who fully or partially trust Poroshenko was 40% higher than those who do not trust him. As of December, however, this figure dropped by several times, although the majority of those polled still trust the head of state, says Paniotto.

“The rating of trust dropped primarily due to the difficult situation in the country. In principle, it is difficult to maintain trust of the people and ratings in such conditions. There are also objective factors – the people do not see the realization of their expectations. In addition to that, Poroshenko is currently being criticized from many sides and many are complaining about him,” says Paniotto.

Executive Director of the SOCIS Center for Social and Marketing Research Oleksandr Stehniy confirmed for Capital that the level of distrust towards Poroshenko is increasing dynamically. After the New Year’s break it may actually accelerate. The promised reduction of social support programs in the national budget and the cold winter will contribute to that. “We have already been warned about power blackouts as soon as the country falls into a deep freeze. For instance, in Lithuania, when there was a threat of revenge of the Communists, the cold in apartments in Vilnius played into their hands,” he says.

Stehniy notes that the decrease in the level of trust towards Poroshenko partially resembles the situation with former president Viktor Yushchenko. Disappointment of the voters influenced their popularity ratings. Sociologists note, however, that the reasons for such disappointment are different. “For Yushchenko it was open populism and boisterous slogans that he did not hurry to fulfill. In his turn, Poroshenko has to deal with the situation of an undeclared war in the country and the massive outflow of resources,” said Stehniy.

Bekeshkina says Ukrainians are expecting from the president peace and improvement of the social and economic situation in the country next year, specifically fulfillment of the promises which Poroshenko made in order to win the elections this year.

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Юрий Цегельник 19 January 2017, 17:50

Перестаньте, какой у него рейтинг? Может -20%