Udar Increases Heavyweight Party Status

KIEV, Ukraine -- Opposition party Udar, led by heavyweight boxing champion Vitaliy Klichko, increased popular support in September to become the second most popular party in Ukraine ahead of the October 28 vote, an opinion poll shows.

Vitaliy Klichko

Udar, for the first time since its establishment two years ago, appears to be more popular than the opposition Batkivshchyna party, created by jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Udar enjoyed support from 17% of respondents in the poll conducted between Sept. 12 and Sept. 27, followed by Batkivshchyna’s 15%, according to GfK NOP research company.

The ruling Regions Party led the poll as the most popular party with 25% support among respondents, according to GfK NOP.

The released poll suggests that Batkivshchyna has been losing its support to Udar in battleground central regions of Ukraine, underscoring a quiet rivalry between the two groups.

The poll comes only days after officials at the two parties vowed to work together to defeat the Regions Party by backing single candidates at majority districts.

The figures may enhance positions of Udar in the ongoing talks with Batkivshchyna over the single candidates as the two are yet to agree on 40 remaining majority districts out of 225.

The finding comes as a bad news for Tymoshenko and her Batkivshchyna party, which had enjoyed the No. 2 position among parties for almost a decade.

Oleksandr Turchynov, the campaign chief for Batkivshchyna, dismissed the poll by citing unspecified surveys that had place his party as the No. 1 among all other groups.

“According to our expert estimates, if the elections were held this week, the ruling party would never taken more than 23-24%, while the [Batkivshchyna] would not get less than 30% of the vote,” Turchynov said.

He blasted polling companies and journalists for catering for the ruling party.

“It’s not so difficult to buy journalists and sociologists in our country,” Turchynov said.

The Communist Party, an ally of the Regions Party, scored support from 9% of respondents, followed by nationalist Svoboda party with 3% and pro-government Forward Ukraine with 3%, according to GfK NOP.

A party needs to score at least 5% of the vote to enter Parliament.

GfK NOP, a part of GfK, one of the world’s largest research companies, polled 3,352 respondents across Ukraine between Sept. 12 and Sept. 27.

Another poll, conducted a month ago by Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Center and by the Razumkov Center, showed the Regions Party increasing support to 28.1% in August, followed by Batrkivshchyna’s 25.6% and Udar’s 11.5%.

Source: Ukrainian Journal