Foreign sociologists charged with electoral fraud are authorized to hold exit-polls in Belarus
Three organizations are to hold exit polls at the presidential election on 19 December. According the Central Election Commission, the commission for conducting polls under the National Academy of Sciences issued licenses for this kind of express polls to two Belarusian structures and a foreign one. Pollsters from the analytical centre EcooM, the Republican Union of Public Association Belarusian Committee of Youth Organizations and TNS-Ukraine Company will ask voters after they exit the polling stations, Belorusskiye Novosti informs.
The first two organizations conducted such polls at the referendum in 2004 and at the presidential election in 2006. Then the results of their exit polls in facts coincided with the official results of the election announced by the Central Election Commission.
TNS-Ukraine Company will work in Belarus for the first time (it’s also the first time a foreign company has been allowed to conduct an exit in Belarus). However, the Ukrainian sociologists have vast experience of holding exit polls and of participation in large political campaigns in general. In Ukraine and in other post-Soviet countries and states of Eastern Europe TNS-Ukraine took part in more than 20 electoral campaigns. The first exit poll was held by the company back in 1989.
However, such an impressive portfolio of the company has a dark page – the company was accused of rigging the results of the sociological data at the latest presidential election in Ukraine.
On 13 November 2009 Serhiy Tyhipko sued TNS-Ukraine in the Podolski District Court of Kyiv, where the company is registered. The lawsuit concerned a piece of work that was performed by TNS-Ukraine with low quality (collection and publishing of data in the framework of public opinion research concerning pre-election preferences were meant).
Rigging the research data by TNS-Ukraine was detected as a result of a check-up by that was conducted by independent contractors.
It was found out that at least one forth of respondents had not even known that they were taking part in a poll. The quota principle was violated, and almost 40% of pollsters expressed a different opinion when the control check was held.
The total number of interviews to which the three abovementioned violations could be applied, is 66% of the total number.
As said by the head of two organizations, SOCIS and TNS-Ukraine, Doctor in Sociology Mikolay Churilov, TNS-Ukraine was ordered to hold the exit poll at the presidential election in Belarus by the state-run TV channel ONT.
By the way, despite the fact that the ownership rights on the data which would be obtained by TNS-Ukraine in Belarus belongs to ONT channel, Mikolay Churilov was allowed to say: ‘According to our surveys, Lukashenka has about 70% now, and he could be congratulated on the victory.’