Party congress of president Zelensky’s Servant of the People party was not a usual party event. Driving a golf-car through Kyiv vast botanical garden was quite refreshing. There were quite modest chairs, and there were green-white flags fluttering in the wind. Obviously, Ukraine’s sixth president to use the verdure of Botanical Garden as a reference to his surname (which is “green” in English).
Before voicing the party list, Zelensky noted that "the logic of its formation is this: the list did not include our experts in economics, finance, security, defense, the judicial system, medicine, education, decentralization, democracy, infrastructure, law enforcement agencies. This is the face of our team, which is composed of all our regions. They do not go to parliament for the sake of immunity, because we would later cancel it. They do not go to serve their [party list] number, because we will deprive of the mandate for voting procedure fraud. They do not go for the sake of enrichment, since we will lock up for it," the president promised.
“It is possible that someone, to put it mildly, has managed to fool us in a dishonest way. But we know for sure that the public and honest journalism will point us to mistakes and we will correct them,” said Zelensky.
What does this mean in practice? Dmytro Razumkov, the nominal leader of the Servant of the People party, deciphered the first number of the list: “We will carry out the post-primaries procedure. When we submit a full list of the Servant of the People party, you will have a month to look at it, study it. If we have made a mistake, we will correct with the help of the public and journalists,” he explained.
In general, the top-twenty of the electoral list is as follows.
- Dmytro Razumkov - Chairman of Servant of the People party.
- Ruslan Stefanchuk - holder of a post-doctoral degree in law, Presidential Representative in the Verkhovna Rada, the main ideologist of the party.
- Iryna Venediktova - expert on the judicial system reform.
- David Arakhamia - entrepreneur, volunteer.
- Halyna Yanchenko - expert on anti-corruption policy.
- Mykhailo Fedorov - head of the party digital direction.
- Oleksandr Kornienko - head of the party's election headquarters.
- Anastasia Krasnoselska - expert in the field of tax and anti-corruption legislation.
- Oleksandr Tkachenko - media manager, 1+1 CEO.
- Zhan Belenyuk - athlete, a Greco-Roman wrestler.
- Serhiy Babak - expert on education.
- Vladyslav Krykliy – Ph.D. in economy.
- Olena Shuliak - expert in the field of development and construction.
- Dmytro Natalukha - public politician, human rights activist.
- Yelyzaveta Yasko - cultural figure, film producer.
- Oleksiy Orzhel - expert in the field of fuel and energy complex.
- Andriy Gerus - expert on energy.
- Mykhailo Radutsky - expert in the field of medicine, doctor.
- Denys Monastyrsky - expert on law enforcement and judicial systems.
- Danyil Hetmancev - expert on taxation and banking law.
As for single-member districts, Servant of the People has presented Yuriy Koryavchenkov actor of the Kvartal 95 studio and journalist Oleksandr Dubinsky (channel 1 + 1). Koryavchenkov will run in district No. 31 in Kryvy Rih, Dubinsky would compete in district No. 94 in the Kyiv region. Blogger Maksym Buzhansky from the party of Zelensky would run in the district No. 25 (Dnipro city), lawyer Tetiana Romantsova would run in the district No. 48 (Kramatorsk), hero of Ukraine Igor Gerasimenko would run in the district No. 62 (Zhytomyr), and artist Ihor Kochut to run in the district No. 68 (Uzhhorod).
Dangers for Zelensky
The electoral positions of Servant of the People party are so good today that this political power has a chance to independently form a parliamentary majority.
However, under two conditions: if in the next month and a half it increases its rating, and if it manages to hold in single-member constituencies, as many candidates as there are in a multi-member constituency. After all, the level of the party’s support is 48.2%.
But no matter how brightly the current political moment might seem, president Zelensky should be aware of the dangers that could kill his triumphal campaign in the Rada. The first and most significant is the president’s relationship with oligarch Ihor Kolomoysky. The relationship of partners has a bit of a falling out, in particular, because of assigning Kolomoysky’s lawyer Andriy Bogdan to the post of head of the presidential administration.
There are some rumors that Ihor Kolomoysky is seriously suffering for his profit: now there is no certainty that Zelensky cares about the interests of the oligarch. However, the fact that Tkachenko, 1+1 CEO, associated with Kolomoisky, is on the list of Zelensky’s party, allegedly alleviates the situation but does not completely offset the risks.
According to Serhiy Fursa economist, Kolomoysky’s basic need is to protect his assets, including the restoration of control over PrivatBank. It is where talks about the default come from - according to Fursa, Kolomoysky seeks to deprive Ukraine of its obligations to the West, because cooperation with the West makes the realization of the oligarch's desires completely impossible.
In Brussels, Zelensky spoke out clearly about the default, calling the idea “a deliberate action,” so Kolomoysky understood that the newly elected president would not be accurate.
Consequently, the oligarch began to do everything possible to thwart Zelensky’s plans (or rather, dreams) regarding the formation of a one-man majority and, respectively, a one-man cabinet. Not out of a sense of revenge, but for the sake of guarantees for his own business interests.
So he began promoting his own project - the so-called "party of mayors." The political force called “Trust in Affairs”, which included, among others, Kharkiv Mayor Gennady Kernes and Odesa Mayor Gennadiy Trukhanov, will go to the polls together with the Opposition Bloc, headed by Vadym Novinsky and Oleksandr Vilkul.
The goal of such a union (which was joined by three more players - the Party of Peace and Development, Nashi, and Vidrodzhennya) is to steal votes from the Servants of the People in the southeast ridings, political analyst Petro Oleschuk believes.
Ihor Kolomoysky also talks with some representatives of the current government and politicians.
Some meeting of the oligarch with Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and leader of Batkivshchyna Yulia Tymoshenko were recorded. Avakov hardly liked the return of his personal enemy, Mikheil Saakashvili, to Ukraine, sanctioned by president Zelensky. The next turn of the conflict could be an indicative dismissal of the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs - the petition demanding Avakov’s resignation gathered the necessary 25,000 votes on the presidential website. Yes, and the recent tragedy of the killing of a five-year-old boy by the police officers - it might sound cynical - gives Zelensky a reason to take the power block under his control.
Thus, Zelensky has faced a choice: to strengthen his power by removing Avakov, or to put up with the presence of a strong and dangerous power broker.
In addition, the political force of singer Vakarchuk might unite those voters, who are disappointed in Zelensky.
First estimates and projections
However, not only competitors can play against Volodymyr Zelensky and his political force. The fact is that summer is the time for holidays, so this is not the best time for holding early elections. Moreover, the main issue is not even the voters’ turnout here, but political unions that would be formed after the elections.
As political analyst Kost Bondarenko notes, Servant of the People has only two options for shaping the future majority.
“The first option is to merge with the former Yanukovych’s party. The second option is to conclude an alliance with Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna. Do not forget that Volodymyr Zelensky has voiced the position of Yulia Tymoshenko on many issues. Political expert Oleksiy Yakubin also stresses the possibility of Zelensky's cooperation with Tymoshenko: “But here, again, everything would depend on the results of Tymoshenko’s party during these elections. That is, it might obtain “golden share” that would allow its representatives to negotiate with the Servant of the People party about their quotas in government or in parliament.”
In short, the very hot summer of 2019 will turn into no less hot autumn.