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Popularity of Ukraine’s ruling parties falls, right-wing radicals score points

October 20, 2015, 19:12 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© Sergey Reznik/TASS

MOSCOW, October 20. /TASS/. As the standard of living in Ukraine keeps rolling downhill, the people’s confidence in the authorities, political parties and their leaders is wearing thin. If a parliamentary election were to be held now, the Ukrainians would be voting far differently from the way they did a year ago, sociologists have found. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s party would have meager chances of winning anything at all, while the presidential Petro Poroshenko Bloc would lose to a trio of ultra-right parties. Society is getting more radicalized and in a hypothetical parliament that might be elected today there would be far more populist politicians of all sorts, Russian analysts believe.

One more telling trend: the Batkivshchyna party is on the rise again, but its leader Yulia Tymoshenko has few chances of staging a comeback.

In the October 2014 election Arseny Yatsenyuk’s Popular Front and Petro Poroshenko Bloc shared first place, getting 22.14% and 21.82% accordingly. The other parties that managed to form parliamentary factions were Lvov-based Samopomoshch (Self-Help) - 11%, Oppositional Bloc - 9.4%, Oleh Lyashko-led Radical Party - 7.4%, and Batkivshchyna - 5.7%. Oleh Tyahnybok’s Freedom failed to clear the election hurdle.

Now, according to a poll held by the group Rating, says Russia’s Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the lineup of forces in parliament would look fundamentally different. The Popular Front would collect no more than 1% of the votes and the Petro Poroshenko Bloc - 13% - less than a combination of the three ultra-radical parties: Lyashko’s party (7%), Right Sector (6%) and Freedom (5%).

Batkivshchyna would rise from last place to the leading positions with 11% of the votes - as many would be cast for Samopomoshch and the Oppositional Bloc.

Personality ratings look as follows: President Poroshenko enjoys 27% support, while 68% are critical of him. Yatsenyuk’s ratio is 13% against 82% and Tymoshenko’s - 24% against 68%.

As many as 82% of Ukrainians say the economic situation has got worse. A year ago 51% said that the developments were moving in the wrong direction. Last July the share of skeptics was already as high as 72%.

The Ukrainians’ standard of living has slumped, an expert at the Centre for Political Technologies, Georgy Chizhov, has told TASS. "The rating of Yatsenyuk’s Popular Front is close to naught. The Front even proposed no candidates in the October 25 local elections. In fact, it would be right to say that such a political force no longer exists, although it has a large faction in the Ukrainian parliament," he said. If the elections were held now, the Poroshenko-led party would still place ahead of all, but it would find it extremely hard to form a coalition, because several parties from different parts of the political spectrum would have about 10% of the votes, too.

A large share of the population supports those who promise simple solutions and prompt results. If early elections are called after all, the group of radicals in the Verkhovna Rada will get far bigger. "Populist politicians of all sorts are on the rise. All of the right-wing parties use populist slogans. There are no classical left-of-centre parties in Ukraine these days. The country is disillusioned in them, and the Ukrainian Communists are generally seen as an anti-patriotic force. The Batkivshchyna party, which has been gaining popularity again, might be rather listed as a left-wing, socialist type of party. Its criticism is focused on high tariffs and the low level of social protection."

Last year political scientists hurried to say that Tymoshenko was doomed to leave Ukrainian politics never to return. "Today it is obvious that Batkivshchina may well context second place after Poroshenko’s party. Tymoshenko is a populist politician of genius. Her ability to sense public sentiment is remarkable. Her party today may well contest part of the classical left-wing electorate."

Chizhov believes, though, that as a politician Tymoshenko has exhausted her credibility resource and it would be very hard to imagine her return to the seat of the president of the prime minister. "What I do believe in is that for several years to come she will be exercising considerable influence on Ukrainian politics and may largely determine who will take the prime minister’s seat."

That the popularity of the ruling parties and their leaders has slumped is easy to explain, the deputy dean of the world economics and world politics department at the Higher School of Economics, Andrey Suzdaltsev, told TASS. "They have stabilized the situation in the country only in that they secured foreign loans and foreign aid. No reforms have followed. No investors have shown up. The economic situation keeps getting worse: they are in default, although they have not said so yet. The issue of the debt to Russia will have to be decided in December. And the housing and utility bills are sky-high."

The rating of Yatsenyuk’s party is not even 1%, it is zero, he believes. "But there will be no election as long as he remains prime minister. And when the election is held, the political lineup may be quite different," he speculated.

Suzdaltsev is skeptical about Tymoshenko’s chances in politics. "The country’s leaders are appointed in Washington and in Europe. Tymoshenko enjoys no support there. She is seen as a symbol of corruption."

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