Two rounds needed to elect president of Ukraine. It seems inevitable

Mikhail Simonov, exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza
Two rounds needed to elect president of Ukraine. It seems inevitable

Based on past experience, an attention-getting start of Ukraine's election campaign is able to set the tone for the entire race. The presidential election set for March 31, and the remaining two months will undoubtedly be marked by uncompromising clashes between candidates for every vote. The struggle will be fierce, as according to polls, none of the political camps enjoys the support of even half of the population, while the nominees' approval ratings are at unprecedented low levels.

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, announcing his decision to join the elections, has actually completed the pool of candidates for the top job.  Registration is ongoing, the Central Election Committee is considering the documents of another fifteen people wanting to take a chance, but hardly any of them will be able to have any serious impact on the elections as a participant.
As of now, the CEC had registered 23 candidates for the elections. The main candidates are well-known politicians who have already tasted the sweets of power. Not as a president, of course (except for Poroshenko), but in high positions. Perhaps it explains the low level of public approval and low ratings of politicians. Socio-economic living conditions in Ukraine are deteriorating, therefore, how can there be trust and high ratings.

Leader of Fatherland political party Yulia Tymoshenko has the highest rating among politicians. The former prime minister's election program has already been outlined. She will try to win over voters with the promise of total reform. Tymoshenko is in favor of constitutional reform, changes to the law on parliamentary elections and their rules, the transition to a new form of government with the highest office of chancellor. The economic part of Yulia Tymoshenko's program reiterates the need for reforms as well: improving the efficiency of managing industry and agriculture promises a sharp increase in income and an improvement in the quality of life. Tymoshenko's foreign policy guide - the EU and NATO.

The same is largely promised by incumbent president Petro Poroshenko, who joined the race, addressing a forum dubbed "From Kruty to Brussels. We Follow Our Own Path." Unlike Tymoshenko, the incumbent president plays a card of antagonistic relations with Russia, to the extent that at some point a slogan appeared on monitors: 'Either Poroshenko or Putin', replacing Poroshenko’s official motto 'Army. Language. Faith'. The President of Ukraine in his speech positioned himself as the most anti-Russian candidate. His speech focused more on confrontation with Moscow than on some economic ideas. Although he did not stint on the promises to improve lives of ordinary Ukrainians. Poroshenko sees the key tasks in restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity — returning Crimea and stabilizing the situation in the Donbass. But without federalization. "We all need to understand that Ukraine is a unitary state with one state language, as written in the Constitution, and no federation and no special status," Poroshenko said. There is no need to talk about the external vector: when there is a declared confrontation with Russia, one thing remains, even if one imagines that it's not what they want, - integration with Western institutions.

Another candidate is the representative of the Opposition Platform — For Life alliance, former Minister of Fuel and Energy, former Deputy Prime Minister Yuriy Boyko, running as independent. His voter base is a part of the population that wants normal relations with Russia in addition to a good life, etc. The platform's ideologist Viktor Medvedchuk said at the presentation of Boyko's program, "the agreement could be reached within a Kiev-Donetsk-Lugansk-Moscow quadrangle, with the subsequent creation of the Donetsk autonomous region within Ukraine." 

In summary, all election participants' plans and main promises are generally the same: raising the socio-economic level, restoring territorial integrity - either in confrontation with Russia with the help of the West, or in cooperation with Russia.

There have been no sensations yet. Popular rock musician Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, whose name was linked to an even greater aggravation of the election campaign, did not join it, saying, nevertheless, he was going into politics, but ... not for the presidency. Well-known journalist Alexander Gordon poured oil on smoldering flames, saying that a politician who has a huge dossier on all, being, therefore, able to turn the entire campaign upside down, would join the race. People in Ukraine understood in the moment who this might be - the journalist maintains relations with the former head of the Security Service of Ukraine, Igor Smeshko. But nothing resonant linked to this name, as well as with any other name, has not happened yet.

In such a sluggish pre-election situation, the majority of Ukrainians surveyed by the Rating sociological group are ready to vote for showman Vladimir Zelensky. He is supported by 19% of the population. According to the Rating, he is followed by Yulia Tymoshenko with a minimal gap - more than 18%. The expert community predicts the leader of the race will soon be replaced -it shouldn't be hard for Tymoshenko with her experience to beat out the politically unsophisticated artist. The third place is occupied by incumbent president Petro Poroshenko with 15.1%. Yuriy Boyko is fourth with 10%. The next are the former Minister of Defence, leader of the Civic Position party Anatoliy Hrytsenko with 8.5% and leader of the Radical Party Oleg Lyashko with 7%. Other candidates' ratings are insignificant and range from 1% to 3.4%.

The Rating group has also released data on popularity in regions. Vladimir Zelensky is more popular in the south and east of Ukraine, he shares the leadership in Kiev with  incumbent president Poroshenko and with Boyko in the Donbass. Yulia Tymoshenko is popular in the center and north of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko competes with her in the west. In addition, Poroshenko is the absolute leader in Galicia.

Not less interesting was data published by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology (KIIS), which fixed "citizens' deep distrust towards state institutions" during its research. According to representatives of the KIIS, "democratic elections are almost the last chance to avoid a great social outrage, uncontrolled mass protests." According to data released by the KIIS, the level of public confidence in the government and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine was minus 63%, in incumbent president Petro Poroshenko - minus 70%. The situation of other political subjects in Ukraine is much better. The pro-European opposition camp, which includes Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland, is not trusted by 47%, while 57% of respondents don’t trust any pro-Russian party, such as the Opposition Platform — For Life alliance.

According to the majority of interlocutors of Vestnik Kavkaza in Ukraine, at the moment the second round of presidential elections seems inevitable.