Politician vs. Public Opinion Researchers Battle Postponed


  The Democratic Initiatives Foundation reports that the court hearing into politician Natalia Korolevska’s law suit has again been deferred, this time until 29 November.

As reported, Korolevska’s party is suing the Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology whose public survey predicted that her party Ukraina Vpered would not get enough votes (5%) to enter the Verkhovna Rada.

The Kyiv Economic Court deferred the 23 November hearing for a week at Korolevska’s request. The grounds given were that the party had not had time to gather the material demanded by the court (DIF) points out that the party had already had three weeks).  The court had allowed an application from the defendants and asked or Korolevska to provide questionnaires from the eve of the elections according to which the party’s rating exceeded the 5% barrier

The claimant asserted that the company which had carried out the survey for the party was abroad and it was not therefore possible to provide the material.

Lawyer Valentina Telychenko, representing the Democratic Initiatives Foundation, was dismissive of this reason.  She assumes that the issue will be resolved on 29 November and says that the claimant cannot hope to win since the parliamentary elections confirmed the results of the public opinion poll.

Ms Telychenko said that she would be insisting that the accuracy of sociological research cannot be the subject of a court examination.

The Director of the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, Volodymyr Paniotto points out that it would be a dangerous precedent if such law suits over public opinion studies become popular and the court agrees to examine them. Pseudo-academic outfits will have the possibility of not carrying out surveys at all. “Instead of carrying out expensive research, it will be possible to turn to the court and demand documents of a similar survey to that carried out by other specialists or competitors. That will be much cheaper and convenient.”

The law suit was lodged on 11 October. Natalia Korolevska’s party in fact received 1.58% of the votes on 28 October, and yet she has not withdrawn her law suit which was described by public opinion analysts and media organizations as unprecedented.  She claimed the results of a survey which predicted that her party would not get into parliament was “political technology”.

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