#10 - JRL 7133
April 3, 2003
THEY'RE NOT GOING TO GET THEM
The latest opinion poll results for Russia's major political parties
Author: Sergei Fedotkin
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
THE MAIN SENSATION OF MARCH POLLS WAS THAT THE COMMUNIST PARTY PULLED AWAY FROM ITS COMPETITORS BY A SIGNIFICANT MARGIN. AROUND 21% OF RESPONDENTS WERE PREPARED TO VOTE FOR UNITED RUSSIA, BUT SUPPORT FOR THE COMMUNISTS REACHED A RECORD LEVEL OF 31%. MEANWHILE, THE YABLOKO PARTY SEEMS TO BE IN TROUBLE.
Analysts generally agree that "administrative resources" (state support) will go to the United Russia party; but the People's Party is drawing closer to the Communist Party, currently in second place (the effect of the "red governors" is being felt). The policy programs of virtually all political parties are unfamiliar to the public - and, according to experts, not very appealing either: experts give only the Communist Party an above-average score on this point. United Russia retains the lead in terms of financial resources. The other parties appear practically impoverished. The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) continues to lead in terms of dramatic and aggressive PR, due to the personal efforts of its leader, Vladimir Zhirinovsky; but Yabloko has risen from fourth place to second. United Russia still has the most obvious media support.
The main sensation of March polls by the National Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) was that the Communist Party pulled away from its competitors by a significant margin. Around 21% of respondents were prepared to vote for United Russia, but support for the Communists reached a record level of 31%. This may have been the result of another problematic winter heating season - as summed up by public opinion rather than a Cabinet meeting.
It is worth noting that support for Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov also rose. In past polls, around 14% of respondents said they trusted Zyuganov; this time the figure was 18%.
VTsIOM may once again be accused of being tendentious, as it was in January when its polls showed a decline in support for United Russia. However, there are other figures to support VTsIOM observations. For example, last Thursday the "Poedinok" (Single Combat) program on the TVS channel featured a debate between Gennady Zyuganov and Oleg Morozov, the ideologue of United Russia. Audience approval for each of them was displayed in real time on the screen. Throughout the program, the rating of the Communist leader was several times higher than that of the United Russia party boss. And it would hardly be reasonable to accuse the TVS audience of taking bribes or having any kind of leftist bias.
In March, liberal voters appeared to be reconsidering their attitude to the two parties competing for their votes: Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces (URF). The balance shifted in favor of Boris Nemtsov's party, which recorded 6% support. But Grigory Yavlinsky's Yabloko ran into trouble: January polls gave it 8% support, but now it cannot be certain of scaling the 5% Duma entry barrier.
Similar polls in St. Petersburg and Rostov-on-Don yielded results which were a little different from the national average.
The party support ranking in St. Petersburg is as follows: United Russia, the Communist Party, Yabloko and the URF, the PartyDPR, the People's Party of Russia, the Russia's Renaissance party, the Greens environmentalist party, and other parties. St. Petersburg analysts admit there is an interesting trend: the city's former electoral favorites of the "democratic 1990s" (Yabloko and the URF) are gradually becoming less active, retreating into the shadows. They are being replaced by the "young predators": United Russia and the People's Party of Russia. These new forces are backed by "the fundamental resources of the 21st Century": finances, media, and "administrative resources". The Party of Life may be considered the phenomenon of the North-West. It is backed by the St. Petersburg's Will movement, which played a significant role in the election campaigns of 1999-2000 under the leadership of Sergei Mironov.
The party support ranking in Rostov-on-Don is as follows: the Communist Party, United Russia, Yabloko, the URF, the People's Party of Russia, the LDPR, the Agrarian Party of Russia, the Pensioners' Party, the Greens environmentalist party, and other parties. The phenomenon of the South is the Agrarian Party of Russia. This is natural enough for agrarian regions; so is the Agrarian Party's poor showing in Russia's larger cities. (Translated by Arina Yevtikhova)