And so the presidential race has begun. This one is special because it is really hard to single out the most exotic candidate from among Darth Vader, Natalia Korolevska, Renat Kuzmin, and Zorian Shkyriak. There are 46 presidential contenders, including 38 self-nominated candidates and 8 on party slates. On Sunday, the Central Election Committee’s findings showed that only 24 candidates met all legally set requirements, considering that a presidential candidate must pay a bond to the tune of UAH 2.5 million. Also, some contenders didn’t even bother to submit their photos.
Obviously, the three-month Maidan has completely changed the alignment of political forces in Ukraine. Maidan served as a political purgatory for the potential presidential contenders. Of the Maidan’s initial “G3” only Tiahnybok is still there and he will run for president, although his ratings are even lower than those of the Radical Party leader, Oleh Liashko.
Last weekend’s Udar Party leader Vitali Klitschko’s decision to step down made the headlines. His move took experts, analysts, and MPs completely unawares because Vitali’s ratings were second best.
Many thought his decision to run for Kyiv Mayor was strange and unexpected. By doing so he jeopardized his political career and his party. Until then Udar was a leader-type organization and now its leader did something to lower rather than raise his political bids.
“Udar is currently in a state of total disintegration. I’m in touch with a number of faction members and they ask me to arrange for their transfer to one of two campaign headquarters, Tymoshenko’s and/or Poroshenko’s,” political analyst Taras Berezovets told The Day.
His counterpart Viktor Nebozhenko also believes that Vitali Klitschko made a rash decision: “Honestly, I’m not sure he will win the municipal election. Starting on a higher level and then moving to a lower one is a very dangerous tactic.”
Political analyst Serhii Haidai insists that Klitschko must have been thoroughly brainwashed: “His decision is proof that Klitschko has failed to make an independent politician over the past several years, and that this failure means that he may not make an effective mayor. Most likely the scenario will be as follows: he will win the municipal election, but he won’t last long as Mayor of Kyiv, perhaps a year at best, followed by a greater failure and disillusionment. Meanwhile, other lads will appear who will beat him.”
One man who is sure to benefit from Vitali’s decision is Petro Poroshenko. What has Poroshenko done to boast such high ratings? A question a number of analysts are racking their minds to answer. This man has a dubious background profile. He is an oligarch, a member of Azarov’s Cabinet. He has been involved in a number of lawsuits involving a number of businesses. A year ago he was never even remotely considered as a presidential candidate. However, the Ukrainian electorate is unpredictable, and so the good old political war-horse Poroshenko today cuts a new political figure.
Viktor Nebozhenko is confused: “Ratings just don’t go up that way. They do when backed by powerful propaganda or following a spectacular move.”
Taras Berezovets believes that the reason is that Poroshenko was on the Maidan and acted brave and dedicated: “His biggest problem is the absence of a team.”
Political analyst Ihor Zhdanov told The Day that the crux of the matter is that “there was very much the other member of G3 had to lose, whereas Poroshenko seemed to have estranged himself from them, on the one hand, while on the other hand he was on the Maidan. And so many of Klitschko’s votes became his own. This is proof that he regards Tymoshenko as a serious contender.”
In fact, Yulia Tymoshenko may well benefit from this tandem because now she is sure to make it to the second round, but then she will be in for big problems. Perhaps the campaign’s biggest intrigue is what Tymoshenko will do when faced with fiasco.
Batkivshchyna appears to be morally prepared. “Ukraine will not suffer another Yanukovych-like catastrophe. Political life continues and the main thing is not to have a dictator,” Mykola Kniazhytsky told The Day.
FALL OF REGIONNAIRES
Last but not least, for the first time in the history of national independence, this presidential campaign will not have a single pro-Russian candidate. A year ago it would have been inconceivable to watch the Party of Regions nominate Mykhailo Dobkin, and that four other members would run for president as self-nominated candidates.
Serhii Haidai: “One of the laws of physics has it that what is solid is fragile and what is soft is flexible. At the breaking point that which is solid collapses. Tihipko and Dobkin should blame themselves. They failed to become Yanukovych’s inner rivals.”
Taras Berezovets: “The Party of Regions is disintegrating, the way the USSR did, with 15 formerly solid Soviet republics turning into independent states. Therefore, neither Yurii Boiko, nor Renat Kuzmin, nor Oleh Tsariov will return to that party because they are running for president as self-nominated candidates. After the election each of them will try to put together a political project of his own – some with Russia’s support, others relying on their own resources.”