Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Tymoshenko overtakes Yanukovych in popularity

I've rather loosely translated an article from the Russian 'Nezavisimaya Gazeta' from a few days ago.

Tymoshenko overtakes Yanukovych in popularity -The Ukrainian president's team is losing ground even in his native Donbass

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is for the first time ahead of Yanukovych in rankings of popular sympathy. This, according to the Razumkov Centre, was one of the main political conclusions of 2011. The second, equally important O.P. result is the extremely high level of frustration, discontent and anxiety in the community which could lead to revolutionary scenario springing up in 2012 parliamentary elections.

Since the last presidential elections in 2010, Yanukovych has been ahead of Tymoshenko in all O.P.s. This has been attributed by experts to regional characteristics: the most stable electorate supporting the head of state lives in the densely populated industrial areas of eastern Ukraine. The opposition leader is most consistently supported the western regions which are more thinly populated. But right now the picture is becoming muddled. Many residents of the Donbass region, which had expected economic improvements with the appointment of their man as president, have instead experience the hardships of economic reform. As a result thy have become disillusioned with his political force.

Sympathy for the imprisoned Tymoshenko is increasing. There may be no increase in the number who trust Tymoshenko, but the perception that she has been maltreated is harming the authorities' ratings, says one expert.

How the situation has changed is revealed by the results of a public opinion poll conducted by the Razumkov Center. If presidential elections were held now, 16.3% would vote for Tymoshenko, 13.3% for Yanukovych. Third would be Arseniy Yatseniuk - 10.7%.

Sociologists note that significantly, 10.7% of Ukrainians would vote against all candidates, 11.9% would not take part in the elections, and14.7% were undecided. They interpret these figures thus: over 37% of citizens are waiting for a new leader and are possibly even ready to participate in the revolutionary scenarios. As a footnote, according to the Razumkov Center, over 67% of Ukrainians believe that events in the country are developing in the wrong direction.

Another pre-Christmas survey, by Centre Research & Branding Group, showed that 72% of citizens considered the outgoing year was difficult. Only a third of Ukrainians will celebrate the New Year in a festive mood with hopes for better to come. Another 42% suffer from anxiety and worry about the future.

Politologist Serhiy Taran says that the parliamentary election campaign, which will, in reality begin in the Spring, could be a catalyst for turmoil. "People do not take to the streets when they realize that it is not possible to change things any time soon. But during election campaigns there exists a mood of possible changes in society." He added though, that most politically aware Ukrainians do not not see enough leaders worthy of trust.

Director of the 'Penta' Center for Applied Policy Research, Volodymyr Fesenko says that the year-end rating of the party in power has declined, and this has slightly improved the situation for the opposition. But what is significant is the steep increase in the level of social tension.

At the same time Fesenko doubts that in the absence of new leaders will cause the situation to escalate to revolutionary events. Experts point out a paradox: Yanukovych's team, by trying to neutralize their main political rival are doing everything to increase Tymoshenko's rating. The authorities, although they are most fearful of national disturbances, are themselves provoking the growth of such sentiments in society.

LEvko's view is that you have to be pretty dumb to lock away your biggest political opponent when there is a realistic possibility her political force and its allies could secure a majority in parliamentary elections in less than a year's time. This should be most obvious bearing in mind how close Tymoshenko ran Yanukovych in the last presidential elections and how great a portion of the electorate would never vote for Yanukovych or his allies.

The current administration are lucky that Arseniy Yatsenyuk and other opposition leaders are men of moderation...for now. But the chance of grasping power, and events that inevitably happen, change men...

Even normally level-headed commentators, eg. in 'Kommersant' are predicting likely increases in acts of disobedience and protest this year.

1 comment:

UkrToday said...

Comes as no surprise.

Yanukovych can thank his mate Yushchenko for this monumental strategic stuff-up. Yushchenko helped turn Tymoshenko into a Martyr.

Yanukovych's term of office has virtually finished as he has been overshadowed by the events surrounding Tymoshenko's imprisonment.

He has no one else to blame for his own demise other then himself and those who he has taken advice from.

No one is listening to any positive statements he has to make and he is one step short of being totally isolated from any meaningful negotiations with the west.

I sincerely doubt if he can recover from this diplomatic disaster that has been imposed on Ukraine.

Tymoshenko's support was on the decline prior to her arrest, as was pointed out by Taras Chornovil in a recent interview published in the Day. She has become more powerful and influential whist lock up.

As Ukraine begins to feels the economic fall out and the impact of Tymoshenko's arrest begins to undermine the success of the Euro2012 games pressure will begin to build on Yanukovych to stand down so as to avoid further economic isolation and decline.

Much will depend on how Ukraine reacts to the inevitable review by the European Court of Human Rights.

Tymoshenko needs to exhaust her appeal rights within Ukraine before the ECHR can review her case.

It is in Ukraine's interest that this matter is brought before the European Court at the earliest opportunity. Further delay will only compound the diplomatic impact of the fall out.

The other still outstanding issue is the secondary charges laid against Tymoshenko. In theory they could be dropped if Tymoshenko's appeal to the ECHR is successful.

Once she is released all hell be break out.

It is still uncertain if she will be imprisoned in the lead-up to the 2012 Parliamentary elections. Any election without Tymoshenko will lack authority or acceptance.

The best option come would be for Yanukovych to initiate constitutional reform, renounce presidential power in favour of Ukraine adopting a full Parliamentary system of government, and then resign once the new legislation is in place and a new government elected allowing the new parliament to elect a new head of state with reduced authority.