Exit Poll organizers plan to raise funds
among general public for Round Two
Ukrainian presidential hopeful Anatoliy Hrytsenko said that fellow candidates Inna Bohoslovska, Mykhailo Brodsky, Serhiy Ratushniak, Liudmyla Suprun, Serhiy Tihipko, Oleh Tiahnybok and Arseniy Yatseniuk have agreed to pitch in to pay for a national exit poll on January 17.
With less than a month to go, Exit Poll organizers said they needed at least another half million hryvnia (under $70,000) to conduct the alternative poll whose preliminary results would be announced on television immediately after polls close at 8 PM on election day.
Veteran exit poll organizers Democratic Initiatives Foundation, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KMIS) and the Razumkov Center for Economic and Political Research said they planned to poll 13,000 voters at 240 polling stations on the third Sunday of the New Year, giving the survey a 2.5% sample error.
Televised exit poll results have been a mainstay in Ukrainian politics since 1998 and have helped catch electoral fraud including the Ukraine presidential showdown five years ago when ballot box stuffing led to the Orange Revolution in late 2004.
The Ukrainian National Exit Poll 2010 has already secured financial support from a forum of international donors that include the International Renaissance Foundation, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ukraine, National Democracy Support Fund and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (USA).
DIF is conducting talks with other donors and recently scored some moral support from Madeline Albright who appeared on Ukrainian state TV on Dec. 20.
Other foreign donors, who have supported exit polls in the past, have cited “Ukraine fatigue” and lack of financial resources due to the global credit crunch as reasons for not backing the independent survey.
The support announced by Hrytsenko in Sumy on Dec. 22 would cover the first round of elections and exit poll organizers said they are still fundraising to cover the costs for the second round.
Ilko Kucheriv of the Democratic Initiatives Foundation said that he was in talk with banks to set up accounts for fundraising among the general public to pay for the poll. “If we get 50,000 people to donate 20 hryvnia each will raise 1 million hryvnia,” Kucheriv said.
Earlier this month the Kyiv Post reported that additional exit polls may be conducted by market research firms GfK, Research and Branding, FOM and SOCIS polling firms and the Opora civic activist group.
Exit Poll winners and losers
The eight (of eighteen) candidates who have announced their support for the exit poll are most interested in seeing the vote free and fair. There is no clear winner in the race with frontrunners Victor Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko barely splitting 50 percent of the popular vote, according to recent predictions by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.
With less than a month to go, polls show that the sixteen “outsider” candidates will split around 20 percent of the vote, with a high number (15 to 20 percent) of voters still undecided.
Every vote counts for everybody running in the tight race. They will determine each candidates’ weight for the second round of elections – expected to be held within three weeks of the first. Then the “losers” from found one will trade endorsements for governmental posts and other crony-like favors with the two “winners” from round one.
The election results from round one will likely be challenged in the courts by “losing” candidates. Although exit poll results are not a legal substitute for official returns, the survey will show how the extent of the fairness of the first round.
National Exit Poll 2010 website (Ukrainian): http://exitpoll.org.ua/
“Presidential candidates agree to assign funds for exit poll” Korespondent.net, Dec. 22: http://ua.korrespondent.net/ukraine/1029636
“Election watchers worried by lack of independent exit poll; survey essential to deterring vote fraud.” December 11, Mark Rachkevych, http://www.kyivpost.com/news/politics/detail/54838/
International Foundation for Electoral Systems Ukraine Survey: http://www.ifes.org/