An early exit poll for the special Ukrainian parliamentary election shows the party of President Viktor Yushchenko coming in a distant third against the political organization of the man he defeated for the presidency in 2004. VOA Correspondent Peter Fedynsky reports from Kyiv.
The independent Voters' Committee of Ukraine released the preliminary results shortly after the polls closed. Based on a survey of 16,000 voters, the Regions Party of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych came in first with 35.5 percent. Mr. Yanukovych lost the disputed presidential election of 2004 to President Viktor Yushchenko, whose Our Ukraine Party garnered over 13 percent. Mr. Yushchenko was also surpassed by BYuT, the party of Yulia Tymoshenko, whom the president dismissed as prime minister in 2005. Her organization got more than 31 percent.
The Socialist Party, according to the exit poll, received 2.5 percent. Given the poll's margin of error, the Socialists have a chance of remaining in Parliament if they cross the three per cent minimum in the official vote count. The current parliamentary speaker, Oleksandr Moroz is a Socialist and could lose his seat altogether.
The bloc of former speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn is shown getting nearly four percent.
The Communist Party did better than expected, obtaining just over five percent.
Fourteen other parties in the exit poll, including the Agrarian, Green, and Christian parties, got less than one per cent each.
The Voters' Committee poll was financed by a grant from the embassies of the United States, Norway, and the Netherlands, as well as government programs of Denmark and Switzerland. Swedish and American private organizations also assisted.
Exit poll manager Ilko Kucheriv told the VOA that rival exit polls have been used in earlier Ukrainian elections to cast doubt on election results. Kucheriv said people often link the credibility of exit polls to the source of their financing.
To allay suspicions, Kucheriv said the Voters Committee consulted with American and Russian pollsters, who examined the organization's methodology and gave appropriate recommendations. He says every step of the process has been documented and will be made available at the Kyiv Mohyla Academy, one of Ukraine's leading universities.
Final results might not be available for several days because of difficulties getting tallies from rural areas of Ukraine.