KIEV, Dec. 29 – Ukraine’s opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych will most likely defeat Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in the runoff vote to become the country’s next president, the latest opinion poll suggested Tuesday.
Ukrainians will go to polling stations on January 17, 2010 to pick the next president, but the runoff between the two most popular candidates will probably be required on February 7.
“Without any doubts and questions Viktor Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko will come to the runoff,” Iryna Bekeshkina, a senior analyst with Democratic Initiatives, said.
Yanukovych was likely to score 33.6% support in the first round of voting, followed by Tymoshenko’s 19.2%, the poll organized and paid for by Democratic Initiatives, a non-profit group, shows.
In the runoff, Yanukovych was likely to defeat Tymoshenko 44.3% vs. 28%, according to the poll.
“It is impossible to overcome the 16% gap in one month,” Oleksandr Vyshniak, the head of Ukrainian Sociology Service, which handled the poll for Democratic Initiatives, said.
The poll was conducted between December 12 and December 26 among 2,010 respondents throughout Ukraine with the margin of error at 2.3%.
The new president will define the country’s foreign and defense policies for the next five years.
The poll also found that an unusually high number of voters – at about 18.8% - will vote against both Yanukovych and Tymoshenko, underscoring the high level of dissatisfaction with policies associated with them.
“Scandals are turning voters away from going to polling stations,” Bekeshkina said.
Incumbent President Viktor Yushchenko will probably finish the No. 5 among 18 candidates with 3.7% popular support, the poll suggested.
The figure shows Yushchenko has failed to boost his rating over the past two months by fiercely criticizing Tymoshenko’s economic policy.
The poll also underscores a steep rise of Serhiy Tyhypko, a former governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, who was likely to score 9.23% support to become the No. 3 most popular politician.
The figure may eventually help propel Tyhypko to the post of the prime minister under certain political configuration, analysts said.
Arseniy Yatseniuk, a 35-year old former speaker of Parliament, has received 6.1% support from respondents to become the No. 4 most popular candidate, according to the poll.
Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko recorded support from 3.4% of respondents, followed by Parliamentary Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn’s 2.6%, nationalist Svoboda leader Oleh Tiahnybok’s 1.6% and former Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko’s 1.3%.
At least 5.3% of respondents said they would vote against all candidates, while 11.1% said they are still to decide who to support among the candidates. (tl/ez)