• Poll of Polls – with the election just 34 days away, we resume our “Poll of Polls” which is an average of all public polls released over the last 30 days. Here are the latest results:
There are several key conclusions: 1) Poroshenko’s bloc unification with UDAR (Klitchko) and other democratic forces is increasing their rating. The previous “Poll of Polls” in July showed them at 25% and UDAR at 9% for a total of 34%. Their current polling average for the bloc is 38% and when the GfK poll is excluded (more about this later); their support climbs to 42%. Thus, Poroshenko’s bloc is underperforming his presidential performance by less than 25%. This is an impressive feat given Ukraine’s electoral history (see table 1).
Table 1: Decline in Support for Presidential Contenders in Subsequent Parliamentary Elections
Please note that in the table above, Poroshenko and Tymoshenko’s numbers are based on the “Poll of Polls” without the Gfk poll included. When Poroshenko’s bloc combines their success on the party list ballot with their likely dominance of the single mandate districts, he could possibly emerge with a clear majority. This has never been done in Ukraine’s electoral history. Of course, holding such a diverse coalition together after an election will prove to be more difficult, but electoral feat itself is quite impressive. This statistical anomaly can be explained by the fact that since the parliamentary election is only five months after Poroshenko’s first round victory in the presidential election, he is continuing to ride a wave of public support. In all previous cases, the presidential contenders had parliamentary elections two or more years later.
2) Oleg Lyashko’s Radical Party and Anatolyi Hritsenko’s Civil Platform Party have clearly established themselves as viable and will pass the 5% barrier (barring something unexpected). Their respective presidential election results pointed to this likelihood and the parliamentary elections are now bearing this out. Hritsenko’s merger into a bloc with the new Democratic Alliance (which passed the barrier for the Kyiv city council elections despite having little time to organize) will help solidify his party’s chances. Lyashko’s has the most volatility to move up or down, due to growing questions over who are the members on his list and their backgrounds.
3) The People’s Front success in surging from zero to 6% within days of Yatsenyuk, Turchynov and company deciding to join it, demonstrates that public approval for the new government in general. As the public begins to associate the new party leaders (Yatsenyuk, Turchynov, Avakov, Parubiy, etc.) with the People’s Front, the party’s rating is likely to rise. However their success comes at Motherland’s (Byut’s) expense though, as it cuts Tymoshenko’s party support in half. Byut’s support has fallen from 14% on average in July to 9.2% and just 7.3% without the Gfk poll. The Gfk poll was conducted in August, before major decisions were made by the political elites on the composition of party lists and leaders. As a result, Yatsenyuk, Turchynov and company were still a part of Byut at the time the poll was conducted. Thus, Byut may struggle to maintain the 7-9% support they have now in the polls as voters become more aware of the split with the People’s Front.
4) Sergiy Tyhypko’s Strong Ukraine Party is becoming stronger to average 6% in the polls, which means that they would receive seats on the proportional ballot. With the boycott of the election by the Party of Regions, and the Communists under threat of being banned for supporting separatism, Strong Ukraine is well positioned to become a constructive opposition party. The rise of a constructive opposition party in Ukraine would be a highly positive development for a country torn by war and recession. It would also be a stark contrast to the politics of the past when blocking the parliamentary rostrum was a frequent and preferred practice. Strong Ukraine’s main opponent is the upstart Opposition Bloc. The Opposition Bloc consists primarily of the Party of Development (aka Party of Regions “Lite” from the Donbass), controversial businessman Vadim Rabinovich and some spare parts from other minor parties. However, their poll numbers are still below 1% as they are hampered by the war in the Donbass potentially preventing their voters from participating in the election, as well as not having adequate time to build their public label. However, they do have cash – and lots of it. Believed to be financed by former Yanukovych Chief of Staff Sergiy Livochkin, the announcement that MP Tatiana Bakhteyeva is in the “top ten” of their list indicates that her nephew Rinat Akhemtov has likely decided to finance the party as well.
• Seats in the New Parliament – based on the updated “Poll of Polls”, seats apportioned by the party list ballot would be distributed to six parties (Poroshenko bloc, Radical Party, People’s Front, Byut, Civil Platform and Strong Ukraine) as follows in Table 2:
Table 2: Seat Distribution in the New Parliament if the Election Was Today
The table above assumes several matters: 1) there will be no election in Crimea and Sevastopol (all 12 districts due to the Russian annexation) and areas of the Donbass affected by the conflict zone which includes 20 districts which are fully or partially occupied. 2) Since there is no way to predict winners of single mandate districts as candidate registration is not completed, the table assumes that the party currently holding the district will hold the seat. In the case of five repeat elections held last December, since the opposition clearly won those elections in 2012, those seats are apportioned according to the party that had the most votes in October 2012 rather than by who currently holds the seat. 3) Most members of the Economic Development and Sovereign Ukraine factions in parliament are campaigning with Poroshenko’s bloc and those members from districts have been added to his total of “current seats” and it is assumed that those members from districts will be re-elected. 4) The Party of Regions is boycotting the election. However individual MP’s will run and win some districts which they currently hold. Currently that number is around 33 districts which are holding elections outside of the occupied territories. 5) The Peace and Stability faction isn’t campaigning under their own banner’s name but instead individual members are running for districts as independents and will be generally pro-Russian. The nine that are currently elected from districts are assumed to be re-elected at this time. 6) Members from Byut that have left for People’s Front or Poroshenko’s bloc have been deducted from their overall total even though they remain in the Byut faction in parliament for now. 7) This is an update to our August 4 article entitled, “What if the Parliamentary Elections Were Today?” 8) After candidate registration is completed we will update the table based on polling and other data that is available to make up to date predictions. Also at that time we will analyze the possibility of Constitutional reform as well as the likely coalition partners in the government.
While much can happen in the five weeks before the election, the signs are continuing to point to a strong Poroshenko majority in the next parliament. A constitutional majority still is elusive without inviting multiple coalition partners though. Later this week when the candidates are finalized in the single mandate constituencies, the picture will become clearer.
Dates to Watch:
• September 26 – next round of gas talks in Berlin. Ukraine is having some success with its austerity measures to conserve gas for the winter. As a result, consumption was down 15% from January through July. Households are being asked to cut their usage by 10% and businesses by 30%. Through conservation and gas reversals, Ukraine will replace 80% of the gas they used to purchase from Russia but still need another 5 billion cubic meters. In addition, the effect of sanctions and a decline in energy prices will start to take a toll on Russia –but not quickly enough to force them to cut a deal before the gas is due to be turned on in Ukraine (October 15 of each year). Also with the war “on hold” in the Donbass, Russia will resume using economic tools to punish Ukraine rather than military ones. If the gas cutoffs of 2006 and 2009 are any precedents, the situation will get worse before better and reach a critical mass around New Years. Fixing this matter may require further sanctions from the Europeans, and economic retaliation from the West. Just as Putin tested the West to see how far he could push militarily against Ukraine, the odds are that he will now see how far he can push/extort Ukraine on energy issues.
• October 14 – Parliamentary session scheduled. This is the parliament’s last scheduled meeting before Election Day.
• October 26 – Election Day