More distrust Zelensky than trust him for the first time, poll says

16 July 2020

More Ukrainians distrust President Zelensky than trust him for the first time since he took office in May 2019, according to the latest poll released on July 15. About 48.6% of the public said it doesn’t trust Zelensky, compared to 44.2% who trust him, the poll said. About 40.5% of the public believes the statement that President Zelensky is an honest and decent person, but that can’t be said about the majority of the members of his political team. About 32.8% believes the statement “neither President Zelensky, nor the majority of the members of his political team, are honest and decent people.”


With Zelensky no longer trusted by a majority, now not a single Ukrainian political figure enjoys the public’s trust. Zelensky is the least distrusted, according to the poll, followed by Parliamentary Speaker Dmytro Razumkov and former political prisoner Oleg Sentsov. The most distrusted political figure is former President Poroshenko. About 13.6% trust PM Denys Shmyhal, compared to 62.3% who don’t trust him.


If presidential elections were held now, about 37% of decided voters would cast their ballot for Zelensky, compared to 17% for pro-Putin Yuriy Boyko and 15% for pro-NATO Petro Poroshenko. Zelensky would handily defeat both candidates in a second-round runoff. The poll was conducted between July 3 and 9 involving 2,022 respondents by the Western-sponsored Razumkov Center and Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Fund.


Zenon Zawada: This poll’s results are consistent with another poll conducted in late June. Political observers unanimously agree that Zelensky’s approval/trust ratings will only decline further. The only thing that has preserved his ratings this long is the status of his celebrity brand, which risks being damaged even further.


It’s being speculated whether Zelensky will resign once his approval/trust ratings become embarrassing (below 20%), and we think that has a 50/50 likelihood in the next year. In this sense, it would have been helpful if poll posed the question of who would the public vote for in a second-round runoff between Boyko and Poroshenko.


It's also worth noting that Poroshenko's party is slightly more popular than Zelensky's party in the city of Kyiv, according to a poll released this week. Given that we expect strong results for pro-Russian forces in the October local elections in the Russophile southeastern regions, this indicates that Russia is accomplishing its goal of polarizing Ukrainians between those for compromise/capitulation, and those against.

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