Last gasp of Ukraine's elections: Campaigning tricks of Poroshenko and Zelensky

Author : Yaroslav Konoshchuk

Source : 112 Ukraine

Poroshenko is going to fight to the finish, lagging behind his competitor though
09:55, 9 April 2019


Two weeks are left before the second round of the presidential elections in Ukraine. It is more or less clear, which strategies were chosen by candidates Volodymyr Zelensky and Petro Poroshenko. The latter is going to fight to the finish, lagging behind the competitor though

Zelensky - per stadium ad victory

Open source

The result of the first round shocked not only the social media users but also the Zelensky team itself. According to sources in the headquarters of the race leader, the team expected that the gap with the current president, Petro Poroshenko, would be within 5%.

“Some people are embarrassed to admit that they support the authorities,” the interlocutors explained. But the official voting results indicate that Zelensky is ahead of Poroshenko almost twice (30.24% against 15.95%). In absolute figures, he was supported by a little more than 5.7 million voters, which is more than the current president and Yulia Tymoshenko, Batkivshchyna party head, combined.

And the reserves for growth in the race leader are more than enough. According to the study of the Rating group, Zelensky can count on the support of 15% of Anatoliy Hrytsenko’s voters in the second round. And he has actually declared support for Zelensky. In addition, in Zelensky might rely on 19% of the voters of Yulia Tymoshenko, 16% of Oleksandr Vilkul and Yuriy Boyko (each), presidential candidates, majorly popular in southern and eastern Ukraine, as well as almost a fifth of those who supported Ihor Smeshko. Also, the list of Zelensky fans might potentially replenish part of the supporters of Oleg Lyashko, head of Lyashko’s Radical Party, and Ruslan Koshulynsky, far-right Svoboda party nominee. At the same time, 43% of respondents, according to social scientists, have not decided whom to support.

Related: Meet Ukraine's First Lady: who is Olena Zelenska and what does she do

According to the calculations of our sources in Zelensky’s team, their leader will defear the current head of state with an advantage of about 20% - 58-62% against 38-42%. But these are only forecasts.

According to Dmytro Razumkov, Zelensky’s political adviser, the strategy of Zelensky’s campaign would not differ from what was in the first round. It is planned to declare war against the incredible corruption under the current government and to be ironic about Poroshenko’s key points. At the same time, another task is to mobilize the supporters for the second round.

Related: Zelensky to introduce his team until debates, - Zelensky’s advisor

Television debates with Petro Poroshenko remain the biggest challenge in the campaign of Volodymyr Zelensky. The candidate himself said that he was ready for them, although earlier his team stated they did not see the need for such a conversation. Zelensky has no political experience and lacks experience in some economic matters. In addition, Petro Poroshenko is rightly considered one of the best speakers in Ukraine, which means it will not be easy to defeat his professional augmenting skills (recall Poroshenko’s numerous knocking cell phones out of people’s hands, slapping on the face of the voters, who come to his election meetings and asked unpleasant questions, etc, - ed.) and diplomatic experience (recall Poroshenko’s ‘super-diplomatic’ labeling of Zelensky as “Kolomoysky’s puppet,” “Little Russian,” etc, - ed.).

Related: No drugs found in blood of presidential candidate Zelensky

However, the winning team of the first round of elections is not scary, and, according to sources in the headquarters of the candidate, they are ready for the TV port and are not going to refuse from it. That is why the previous week was marked by video messages and analyzes before the debate.

They add that it would not be beneficial for Zelensky to run away from the TV lodge under the pretext of “nothing to talk about,” and therefore it was decided to “throw the ball” at Poroshenko’s team, offering unconventional battle conditions at the stadium and an obligatory drug test.

Related: Ukraine's presidential elections 2019: Profile of Zelensky's voter

“Sociology shows that public demand for debates (a survey by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology and the Democratic Initiatives Foundation says that 73% of respondents support holding of the debates before the second round of elections, is too high... Now the television duel is trendy, not the theses of our opponents that Zelensky is “Moscow’s revenge,” that this is an extremely desirable candidate for Russia. They don’t even talk about cheaper gas prices for the population (Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers decided to reduce gas prices by 17 kopecks or 0,6 cent, - ed.),” Zelensky’s team said, expecting that the candidates would most likely meet two days before the second round of elections. By the way, Poroshenko wants to conduct the elections on this Sunday, April 14th. In this case, the current president’s team will have more time to convert the results of the debate into a result.

Poroshenko: impossible is nothing

Petro Poroshenko, video message on April 5, screenshot

Poroshenko has entered the final part of the presidential election campaign with a frankly bad result. The head of state was supported by 15.95% of voters who came to the polling stations. Volodymyr Zelensky was ahead of Poroshenko by more than 2,5 million votes. Similar situation in the second round was with Petro Symonenko, leader of the Communist Party of Ukraine. In the first round of the presidential elections of 1999, Symonenko lost to Leonid Kuchma 3.7 million votes. The reserves for the growth of the rating of the current head of state are minimal. According to a survey of the Rating group, the head of state in the second round can count on a little more than 10% of supporters of Anatoliy Hrytsenko. However, given that Hrytsenko did not rule out a unification with Zelensky, this figure might change. In addition, according to social scientists, Poroshenko’s team can count on the support of 4% of supporters of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, about 10% of ex-SBU chairman Ihor Smeshko, 14% of far-right Ruslan Koshulynsky, and also rely on 3% from Oleg Lyashko, which is clearly not enough to win. Poroshenko’s team needs to convince millions of Ukrainians to change their mind.

Related: Key Yanukovych’s ex-sponsor Akhmetov bets on Poroshenko during 2019 elections

And on March 31, the head of state has remembered the recipes of political technologists of Ukraine’s former president Leonid Kuchma. Just like 20 years ago, Ukrainians were called upon to unite against the “red threat” (in the second round, Petro Symonenko fought against Leonid Kuchma in 1999, - ed.), now the thesis is a little different: “We will not give Kolomoysky any chance.”

Related: Support of Poroshenko by Prosecutor General doubts independence of department, - OSCE ODIHR

And, Poroshenko has already practiced this trick with former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. His team was trying to tie their opponent to Russia. Bloggers, who are considered close to the Presidential Administration, are reminiscent of Zelensky’s business in Russia, saying that Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky spoke in support of him. The social networks say that Zelensky is supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, and head of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk Peoples Republic” Denis Pushilin.

However, "multiplying by zero" of your competitors does not mean an automatic increase in the number of your own supporters. Petro Poroshenko’s plan is to agitate the voters “in a new way.”

(Mikheil Saakashvili, former Odesa region governor and former Georgian President, and Ukraine’s MP Serhiy Leshchenko assure that Moshe Klughaft, Israeli political technologist, is assisting Poroshenko’s in his reelection. Klughaft is known for his aggressive, negative style of campaign management. Poroshenko’s press people denied this. Klughaft is known for campaigning for Jewish Home party, Georgia’s Salome Zurabishvili, Bidzina Ivanishvili, etc. – ed.)

In addition, according to our sources in the pro-presidential faction, they count on the support of labor migrants who will return to Ukraine on Easter.

Related: Portrait of voter: Who voted for Poroshenko?

Prior to the second round, Volodymyr Zelensky was considered the best sparring partner for the current head of state. But the gap in the first round was such huge (15%) that Poroshenko’s final victory was in jeopardy.

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