Yushchenko Is Authoritarian For Many Ukrainians

VANCOUVER, BC -- Many people in Ukraine hold a negative view of their president, according to a poll by the Sophia Social Research Center.

President Viktor Yushchenko has lost much of his popularity.

42.2 per cent of respondents think Viktor Yushchenko of the People’s Union-Our Ukraine (NS-NU) is an authoritarian politician who neglects the rule of law for his personal benefit.

Conversely, 32.2 per cent of respondents consider Yushchenko as a democratic leader working to protect the country’s Constitution, while 25.4 per cent are undecided.

A series of public demonstrations took place in Kiev after the November 2004 presidential run-off. The Ukrainian Supreme Court eventually invalidated the results of the second round, and ordered a special re-vote.

Opposition candidate Yushchenko—whose supporters wore orange-coloured clothing at events and rallies—received 51.99 per cent of all cast ballots, defeating Viktor Yanukovych.

During his term in office, Yushchenko has had to deal with sagging approval for his administration, which has been dogged by allegations of corruption.

He dismissed his entire cabinet in September 2005 to appoint a new roster of senior staff in an attempt to make the government more effective.

Ukrainian voters renewed the Supreme Council in March 2006. In July, the "anti-crisis" coalition—which includes Yanukovych’s Party of Regions (PR), the Socialist Party of Ukraine (SPU), and the Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU)—was formally announced.

In August, Yanukovych was confirmed as prime minister, while Yushchenko remained as president.

On Apr. 2, Yushchenko dissolved the Supreme Council and called an early ballot. On May 27, Yushchenko and Yanukovych agreed to hold a legislative election on Sept. 30.

In early August, opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko—who supported Yushchenko in the last presidential election and briefly served as prime minister—accused the Central Election Commission (CEC) of acting as Yanukovych’s "puppet" after it denied registration to candidates belonging to the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc for failing to provide their full addresses in their applications.

Tymoshenko vowed to denounce the CEC before the European Union (EU), saying, "We will inform them that the part of the CEC that is controlled by the ("anti-crisis") coalition is against the fundamentals of democracy. (...) The world will never recognize elections in which the biggest political force will not take part."

On Aug. 15, the CEC finally registered the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc’s candidates for the upcoming election, following a unanimous vote.

Polling Data

How would you describe Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko?

An authoritarian politician, neglecting laws for the sake of ensuring personal power - 42.2%

A democratic leader, and the guarantor of the constitution - 32.2%

Undecided - 25.4%

Methodology: Interviews with 2,017 Ukrainian adults, conducted from Jul. 27 to Aug. 7, 2007. Margin of error is 2.2 per cent.

Source: Angus Reid Global Monitor