Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s ruling party got more votes than its rivals in parliamentary elections today, an exit poll showed.
The Party of Regions got 28.1 percent, compared with 24.7 percent for opposition united under jailed ex-Premier Yulia Tymoshenko, according to an e-mailed survey by the Razumkov Center for Economic and Political Studies and the Democratic Initiatives Foundation in the capital, Kiev. The poll covers party-list voting for half of the legislature’s 450 seats, with the rest elected in single-mandate districts.
Yanukovych, 62, who has roused ethnic Russians in the regions around his native Donetsk by bolstering the status of the Russian language, trumpets stability, economic expansion and this summer’s Euro 2012 soccer tournament among his party’s achievements. While graft has worsened, European ties have soured and growth may reverse in the second half of the year, opponents have struggled since former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was imprisoned in 2011.
“What happens in the single-mandate districts is crucial,” Jana Kobzova, program coordinator at the European Council on Foreign Relations in London, said today by phone. “The opposition focused on the party lists -- that’s where they really campaigned. The gain will be bigger for the Party of Regions in the single-mandate districts.”
The Party of Regions may get an additional 130 to seats through single-mandate constituencies, Deputy Prime Minister Borys Kolesnykov said today in televised remarks. Final election results will be published Oct. 30.
World boxing champion Vitali Klitschko’s UDAR had 15.1 percent of ballots today, the Communists, Yanukovych’s current coalition partner, 11.8 percent, and right-wing Svoboda 12.3 percent, according to the Razumkov survey of as many as 17,000 voters, which had a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.
The united opposition and Svoboda agreed Oct. 19 to form a coalition and Klitschko said today his party may join them in parliament.
“We’ll sit and discuss join actions,” Klitschko said in remarks broadcast by the private 1+1 TV channel. “We see possible cooperation with those forces that support a democratic, European future for Ukraine. I reiterate: we won’t cooperate with the Party of Regions or the Communists.”
UDAR may get 20 seats through single-mandate constituencies, according to Klitschko.
The Party of Regions will probably secure a majority, Alex Brideau, an analyst at Eurasia Group in New York, wrote Oct. 25 in an e-mailed note.
“If Regions can’t get a 226-seat majority on its own, it should be able to secure an alliance with either the Communist Party or individual deputies who defect from other factions,” he said.
Ukraine’s foreign-currency bonds have returned 24 percent this year, the most after Venezuelan debt, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s EMBI Global Index, which gauges the yield difference relative to U.S. Treasuries.
Still, after expanding 5.2 percent last year and 4.7 percent in 2010, the economy will contract in the second half because of lower prices for steel, Ukraine’s main export earner, Erste Bank AG and HSBC Holdings PLC have predicted.
The Ukrainian Equities Index is down 44 percent this year, more than any benchmark in the world, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The hryvnia, which has lost 1.1 percent against the dollar so far this year, rose 0.5 percent to 8.1325 on Oct. 26.
The EU has delayed indefinitely a planned Association Agreement with Ukraine because of Tymoshenko’s conviction for abuse of office while premier. It’s urged Yanukovych and his government to conduct fair elections, calling them “a litmus test” of Ukraine’s democratic credentials.
“The record number of observers that have come here from North America, Europe and Central Asia for this event underscores the importance we as the international community place on Ukraine’s democratic progress,” the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and NATO said today in an e-mailed statement. “We hope to see the citizens of Ukraine participate fully in Sunday’s vote.”
Turnout at the election was 56.7 percent at 8 p.m. in Kiev, according to the Central Electoral Commission.
“Free and democratic elections have been conducted,” Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, who leads the Party of Regions’ party list, said today in a statement on the party’s website. “Exit polls show we’ve won. We’ve won in an absolutely honest fight.”