June 21, 2019 / 2:37 PM / 6 months ago

Ukraine president's party keeps commanding poll lead ahead of July election

KIEV (Reuters) - The new party set up by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who took office last month, maintained a commanding lead in an opinion poll published on Friday ahead of a snap parliamentary election next month.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is seen in his office at the Presidential Administration building in Kiev, Ukraine June 19, 2019. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

The research group SOCIS said it had interviewed 2,000 voters in all regions, except annexed Crimea, from June 14 to June 19.

The survey gave Servant of the People 47.6 percent among those who said they would vote, down slightly from an earlier SOCIS poll, conducted on May 29-June 6, which put Zelenskiy’s party on 51.3 percent.

A good showing next month would cement the former television comedian’s meteoric rise to upend Ukrainian politics.

The outgoing parliament, dismissed by Zelenskiy after his landslide election victory in April, is dominated by loyalists of his defeated predecessor Petro Poroshenko.

Servant of the People, campaigning on a pro-European, anti-corruption ticket, has no lawmakers at present.

Among other parties seen able to overcome the five-percent threshold, there are three that have their factions in the outgoing parliament.

Opposition Platform has 12.4 percent support, Poroshenko’s European Solidarity party has 8.8 percent, followed by Fatherland, the party of former prime minister and presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko, on 8.7 percent.

In fifth place is another new party - Voice - established by Ukrainian rock star Sviatoslav Vakarchuk. It got 6.8 percent, up from 4.9 percent in SOCIS’s previous poll.

Half of the 450 seats in Ukraine’s parliament are elected via party lists and the other half in single-member constituencies.

Ukraine’s most pressing issue is conflict with its neighbour Russia, which annexed its Crimea region in 2014. Zelenskiy has said his first task is to achieve a ceasefire.

Zelenskiy became famous playing the TV comedy role of a schoolteacher who unexpectedly becomes president after a pupil films his foul-mouthed tirade against corrupt politicians and posts the video online.

His presidential campaign exploited parallels with that fictional narrative, portraying him as an everyman who would stand up to a crooked political class.

Following is a table showing the percentage support for leading parties among voters planning to take part in the election in recent polls (* - in brackets results of SOCIS’s poll done on May 29-June 6)

The table does not include smaller parties that are not expected to exceed the 5 percent threshold for winning seats in parliament.

SOCIS Reiting KIIS

June 14-19 June 8-12 May 26-June 7

Servant of the 47.6 (51.3)* 36.9 34.4

People

Opposition Platform 12.4 (9.2) 8.7 8.4

European Solidarity 8.8 (9.5) 3.9 5.8

Fatherland 8.7 (8.7) 5.7 5.5

Voice 6.8 (4.9) 6.4 4.0

Reporting by Natalia Zinets; editing by Matthias Williams and Gareth Jones

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