The Ukrainian presidential elections: who’s running?
Although the registration period with the Central Election Commission of Ukraine closes on 9 February, journalists are already discussing the main candidates for the presidential elections in Ukraine which will be held on 31 March 2019. There are currently 28 individuals officially registered. Ukrainian news outlet Hromadske provided a brief overview of the most popular candidates and their platforms.
President Poroshenko has focused on the ‘patriotic electorate’ as well as on one of his main achievements – the autocephaly [independence] of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
According to the polls, Poroshenko has every chance of reaching the second round. He shares second place with Yulia Tymoshenko in the current ratings.
Who is Yulia Tymoshenko?
The leader of the Batkivshchyna [the All-Ukrainian Union Fatherland -ed] Party, Yulia Tymoshenko, is the former Prime Minister of Ukraine and is running for the presidency for the third time. She promises to halve the price of gas, despite the head of state not having such powers.
Sociologists note the dedication of Tymoshenko’s supporters and their willingness to come out and vote.
A showman, artist and comedian, Vladimir Zelensky announced his candidacy on New Year’s Eve.
He plays a major role in the popular television series The Servant of the People in which he portrays a simple teacher who becomes President of Ukraine.
In January, a journalistic investigation was published showing that Zelensky owns three companies in Russia.
Socioligists say that this information has played in Zelensky’s favor, and that one reason behind his high rating is the mood of protest in the country.
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Yuriy Boyko and Oleksander Vilkul
Yuriy Boyko and Oleksandr Vilkul are both pro-Russian candidates.
Vilkul is the head of the Opposition Bloc, and Boyko is head of Opposition Platform – For Life.
A few months ago, Ukrainian law enforcement officers accused Vilkul of official misconduct. The Verkhovna Rada (the unicameral parliament of Ukraine), however, refused to remove his parliamentary immunity.
Former Minister of Defence of Ukraine Anatoly Gritsenko calls himself a democrat, but at the same time sees nothing wrong with authoritarianism. For five years he has promised to “stay on the heels of the countries of Europe” in terms of development, to overcome corruption, monopolies and oligarchs.
The mayor of Lviv also classifies himself as a democratic candidate. Sadovoy promises voters anti-corruption measures and technical modernization.
MP Oleg Lyashko of the Radical Party will run in the presidential election for a second time after he took third place with 8.32% of the vote in 2014.
His message has fundamentally remained the same: he uses the same radical opposition rhetoric with populist statements.
For example, during his party’s congress on 21 January, he promised to put the issue of restoring the death penalty in Ukraine up for referendum.
What do the polls say
A poll was published at the end of January which indicated that Zelensky was the most popular candidate. The poll was carried out by the Rating sociological group. Of those surveyed:
19% say they will vote for Vladimir Zelensky in the elections;
18.2% for Yulia Tymoshenko;
15.1% for Petro Poroshenko;
10% for Yuriy Boyko;
8.5% for Anatoly Gritsenko;
7% for Oleg Lyashko.
A survey conducted by the Centre for Social and Marketing Research (SOCIS) and the Razumkov Centre showed the following:
23% – Vladimir Zelensky;
16.4% – Petro Poroshenko;
15.7% – Yulia Tymoshenko;
9.3% – Yuriy Boyko;
8.1% – Anatoly Gritsenko;
6.7% – Oleg Lyashko.