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Who will be prime minister of Ukraine: Potential candidates and their chances to take office

Author : Natalia Lebed

Parliamentary elections have not yet been held, votes have not been counted, and coalition negotiations have not even begun, but active conversations around who will take the premiership are already underway. The second most important government position encourages sociologists to conduct a survey on the topic of who Ukrainians would like to see as head of government
21:56, 12 June 2019

Open source


At the same time, as follows from the data of the Kyiv International Sociology Institute, the representative of the Opposition Platform - For Life Yuriy Boyko (12.9%) enjoys the greatest support among respondents, the leader of the Batkivshchyna Yulia Tymoshenko (11.3%) ), and the leader of the Syla I Chest party Igor Smeshko (8.1%) closes the top three “winners”.

But Smeshko heads the political force, which is currently below the entry barrier (it is gaining 3.8% with the minimum required 5%), and therefore it is not necessary to speak about his chances for premiership. So far, five political parties are passing to the Verkhovna Rada - President Zelensky’s Servant of the People (48.5%), Opposition Platform - For Life (11.8%), European Solidarity of Petro Poroshenko (8.1%), Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna (7.8%) and Svyatoslav Vakarchuk’s Holos (5.6%).

Those of them who form a coalition with the presidential political force will be able to qualify for the premier’s office. True, there are thoughts that the Servant of the People will be able to overcome the psychological mark of 50%, which means that the sole formation of a parliamentary majority and government will be achieved. But is this really necessary for President Zelensky?

Option one. If the Servant of the People receives 50+ %

Political analyst and head of the Third Sector center, Andriy Zolotariov, in his comments does not exclude that Zelensky’s team may experience "dizziness with success" if the Servant of the people "grows up" to 50% and will thus receive the largest fraction in the parliament.

Zelensky believes that they can take a single-party majority. If that happens, the next important task will be to keep this majority. In a state of political turbulence, allies are needed, and Batkivshchyna is suitable for this role. Holos is also suitable - it’s not for nothing that Vakarchuk makes a certain cosplay of Zelensky, but only Tymoshenko can claim the prime minister as a powerful player,” says Zolotariov.

And whatever the benefits of reliance on a coalition ally are, Zelensky still dream of looping off all the branches and all the dimensions of power. According to one of our insider sources, the president has already chosen the prime minister, and this is the head of Naftogaz, Andriy Kobolev.

Our interlocutor adds: Kobolev is now actively visiting the Presidential Administration. And such persistent circulation has certain benefits: for example, in May, Kobolev attended the meeting with the US delegation together with Zelensky. True, the subject matter of the talks concerned energy, therefore, Kobelev should be present, but this is not the only evidence that the head of Naftogaz is close to the head of state.

Igor Kolomoisky also considers Kobolev to be the best candidate for the post of Prime Minister. True, relations between the oligarch and the president of Ukraine have recently become seemingly cool, therefore Zelensky may not listen to Kolomoisky’s opinion.

But it was Kolomoisky who at one time clearly named the name of the person who would become the head of the presidential Administration, and he was right: Andriy Bogdan headed the administration, the former Kolomoisky’s lawyer. Does the businessman guess right this time too? Although, perhaps, we should not talk about guessing, but about 100 percent certainty.

The director of the Global Strategies Institute Vadym Karasiov warns President Zelensky: a one-man coalition and "his" prime minister are a dangerous thing. “This is quite risky - all responsibility then will fall on Zelensky, inclusive with the payment of external debts. It is in the interests of the president to distribute responsibility among coalition partners,” the expert says.

Related: If Constitutional Court recognizes parliament’s dissolution as unconstitutional, it is politically motivated, - Tymoshenko

Option two. If Zelensky will be looking for a partner

Perhaps Karasiov is right, and the new president of Ukraine should not take all. In this case, he should choose from two likely allies: Yulia Tymoshenko and Svyatoslav Vakarchuk. Both of them, say experts, are suitable for the president of Ukraine, ideologically, so to speak. But the chances of Vakarchuk, of course, are significantly less.

“The coalition between the Servant of the People and the Holos of Vakarchuk looks unlikely, but with such a coincidence the candidate of prime minister will be nominated by the Zelensky party because Vakarchuk simply does not have such a person,” comments Ruslan Bortnyk, director of the Ukrainian Institute for Policy Analysis.

“Format of the coalition will determine everything. And everything will depend on the number of votes won by election participants, including the Servant of the People. Most likely, the coalition will be formed either with Batkivschyna of Yulia Tymoshenko, or with Holos of Svyatoslav Vakarchuk. Personally, I am more inclined to Tymoshenko, "said Kost Bondarenko, founder of the Gorshenin Institute analytical center.

“If we proceed from the geopolitical guidelines of the country development and how they are reflected in the programs of various political forces, Yulia Tymoshenko’s chances are very serious. She is one of the most resourceful Ukrainian politicians and is taking part in the political Premier League for more than 20 years. She has a clear program of changes, which she has already outlined, "notes Andriy Zolotariov.

And Vadym Karasiov adds: “Tymoshenko will be prime minister. Vakarchuk will not join the coalition, Poroshenko too. The Opposition Platform also will not be there. Tymoshenko has already said that she agrees to a coalition alliance, so the fate of the prime minister will be decided with her”.

Yulia Tymoshenko really does not hide either the premiere ambitions or the readiness of her political force to help Zelensky. “Our team intends to go into a strong coalition with the new president, with other democratic pro-European forces,” said the politician in her speech at the recent Batkivshchyna party congress.

And in the context of the elections, Tymoshenko reiterated the need for unity: “Real democratic forces that can go to parliament, and this is the Batkivschyna, Servant of the People, the Holos  party of Svyatoslav Vakarchuk - should unite in those districts where are the mastodons of that corrupt regime that has been in force for five years and that has now fallen. " A subtle compliment to Zelensky (regarding the democratic nature of his party) and another kick to Poroshenko once again show on which side Yulia Tymoshenko’s sympathy is.

However, it is not so much about sympathy and sentiment, as about power. Without waiting for a feedback from the side to which she makes the proposal, Tymoshenko already claims the benefits that the coalition and the country will receive from her premiership. Already in a hundred days the old system will be scrapped, the Batkivshchyna leader promises.

Tymoshenko even pointed out concrete ways to achieve this goal. For the sake of economic well-being, she plans to reduce the tax burden on business by at least 50% plus introduce affordable loans, thus providing support to the middle class. “It is important that no revenge comes and real results that people feel come,” Tymoshenko summed up what was said.

Option three. If Zelensky retreats from previous plans

Meanwhile, the one who is the personification of all political negativity for Yulia Tymoshenko (that is, Petro Poroshenko) also, it turns out, cherishes the premier ambitions. Quite unexpectedly for many, the ex-president said he was ready to head the government in case of the victory of his party in the early parliamentary elections. “If we win the election, then yes,” Poroshenko said in a comment to Suspilne TV.

“Poroshenko’s statement is a demonstration of his readiness to negotiate. But his chances are miserable,” Ruslan Bortnyk is convinced.

“Zelensky has already indicated that he will not cooperate with either Poroshenko or the Opposition Platform,” recalls Andriy Zolotariov. “Poroshenko has been bluffing like anyone since the 90s. Even if there’s nothing behind your soul, you must pretend that you have all the trump cards. And even if Poroshenko had a significant percentage, it would be political suicide for Zelensky to take him into a coalition."

Similarly, Zolotariov assesses the chances of Yury Boyko to get the premiership under President Zelensky. “As for Boyko, he will need to earn at least 20%. Today, the likelihood that Boyko will be among the candidates for the premiership is very small,” the expert says. “Tymoshenko has more chances than Boyko,” Ruslan Bortnyk agrees with him.

And Vadym Karasiov, answering our question about Boyko’s high rating in the conducted opinion poll, explains his popularity as follows: “This is not sympathy for individuals, it’s anxiety for the conditions. For the prime minister is usually seen as a professional experienced manager who can reduce tariffs, reduce utility burden, increase wages, etc. The rest is speakers, charismatics and populists, and people want a professional to hold this position".

As of today, it is not known how Zelensky’s responded to the poll and whether Boyko or Tymoshenko’s candidacy is being considered for the position of head of government. Perhaps Ruslan Bortnyk is right, who predicts that "the future Verkhovna Rada will survive several coalitions," and, consequently, the personages can change in it with kaleidoscopic rapidity.

But now the number one task is to survive the parliamentary elections, which by the decision of the Constitutional Court can be postponed to the autumn, when they should have taken place on schedule. But that's another story.

Related: Ukrainian snap parliamentary elections: Who is who in Vakarchuk's Golos party

Related: Ukraine’s Constitution to be amended, - Zelensky’s representative

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