Who has chance to win mayoral elections in Kyiv?

Author : Natalia Lebed

Source : 112 Ukraine

Local elections in Ukraine are scheduled for October 25, and the election campaign begins 50 days before the date, that is, September 5. Therefore, there is still more than a month before the final list of those wishing to compete for mayor and other seats is formed. And it is not excluded that in the first decade of September the number of candidates for mayors or for local councils MPs will increase significantly
22:56, 3 August 2020

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However, serious players have already announced their participation. Today we will review those of them who will run for the main prize - the Kyiv mayor’s position.

A word to sociologists

Without waiting for the D day, Kiev has already launched an election campaign. Bigboards are still in the first place. There are enough of them in the city. Social media and video content are also increasing their influence. Sociologists are not asleep either - their time has come. The Razumkov Center reports: if the elections of the capital's mayor were held in the near future, Vitali Klitschko would receive the greatest support - 36.4% of all respondents are ready to vote for him, or 43.7% of those who are ready to take part in the elections and have decided on their candidate...

In second place in terms of electoral support is Andriy Palchevsky (9.3% and 11%, respectively). Next are Viktor Lyashko (8% and 6.3%, respectively), Igor Smeshko (4.3% and 5%, respectively). Thus, Palchevsky is the most likely candidate for the second round. Although his gap from the leader of the race is so significant that it is unlikely that this challenger could count on the mayorship.

"The list of potential candidates is experimental and somewhat hypothetical," Andriy Bychenko, director of the Razumkov Center, comments for Deutsche Welle. According to him, the lists of applicants will subsequently be refined and supplemented.

Klitschko as the leader of the race

The current mayor of Kyiv is to blame on some things. Klitschko, in fact, did not keep any of his global promises. During his power, a general plan for the development of the city was not adopted, which means, in particular, that the chaotic development of the capital will continue. Klitschko has not made the capital friendly to cyclists and people with special needs. He did not carry out the promised transport revolution, namely: he did not liquidate the minibuses and did not bring the buses and trolleybuses of large capacity that had once been announced to the streets.

Only at the end of Klitschko's cadence in Kyiv - after a long break - they began to build two new metro stations. But such a long-term construction, like the Podolsko-Voskresensky bridge crossing, remains a project. The city authorities stubbornly ignore warnings about the catastrophic condition of the Metro and Paton bridges, the collapse of which would entail numerous casualties. At the same time, Klitschko did not spare money on projects of dubious priority - expensive steps on the Landscape Alley or the famous glass bridge in the park area of ​​Kyiv, for which the mayor was repeatedly criticized. And this despite the still existing shortage of schools and kindergartens in the city.

And yet people like Klitschko. Some experts believe that communication with the people of Kyiv during the quarantine went into account, as well as the fact that, albeit belatedly, the mayor began to implement some infrastructure projects. Klitschko increasingly visits hospitals, construction sites, checks how streets are being reconstructed and heating networks are being laid. Klitschko talks about this on his Facebook page: "My task is to do everything in order to commission new facilities, so that they are reliable, safe, modern and quickly open. We do everything for this," he reports to the citizens.

He also pays significant attention to social networks, where he is not afraid to seem ridiculous or stupid. In particular, he maintains an account on TikTok, which no other politician of his rank does. There he shares ironic videos, in particular about how he cut his hair on his own during quarantine. This video, by the way, was re-posted on Facebook by the former head of the presidential office, Andriy Bogdan. "And I already know who will be the next president," Bogdan commented on this post.

“If there is no force majeure, during the mayor’s elections, people will vote for Klitschko,” says Bogdan Petrenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Study of Extremism. “Why? For the same reasons they voted for Zelensky. He is not a corrupt official, he sometimes says incomprehensibly, but, in principle, he does like everyone else. And there is hardly an alternative - even despite Klitschko's lack of significant achievements."

And yet, this man goes to the polls fully armed, and not only with one TikTok. The Babel edition, referring to its sources, writes that the Klitschko team attracted technologists from the K&K GROUP agency Gnat Korobka and Alexander Kopyl to the campaign. They are known for the fact that in 2010 they worked with the then presidential candidate Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and during the local elections in 2015 they advised the then satellite party of Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc. The party took third place, having received 156 seats.

Is Palchevsky the next candidate?

Vitali Klitschko's 100 percent victory in the mayoral elections is not obvious to everyone. Klitschko has at least two problems, says Ruslan Bortnyk, director of the Ukrainian Institute for Policy Analysis and Management. "He is the favorite of the campaign, but with two weak positions. First, his future depends on agreements with the President's Office. If they decide to put ‘their’ head to the Kyiv City State Administration, Klitschko's chances of winning will diminish."

"The second problem: Klitschko has both a high rating and an anti-rating, which can play against him, subject to a high turnout in the second round. A large number of corruption scandals speak against him - two of his deputies have been arrested in the last six months alone," Bortnyk recalls.

Political analyst Sazonov also points to the anti-rating of Klitschko as an obstacle to his victory. He believes that this adds chances to one of Klitschko's main rivals - Andriy Palchevsky. “In the first round, Palchevsky will position himself as a person who is not connected with the authorities. Unlike, by the way, Klitschko or Vereshchuk. And in the second round, he can gather support from those who voted against Klitschko. And this protest electorate promises to be quite significant considering Klitschko's discontent – both due to transport, and traffic jams, and other moments. Do we not know cases when a candidate who was not a leader suddenly wins in the second round?"  Sazonov asks rhetorically.

Related: 70 new cases of Covid-19 observed in Kyiv on July 26, - mayor

Palchevsky, a businessman and TV presenter, has not yet confirmed his participation in the mayoral elections. However, his face is increasingly appearing on billboards and on TV broadcasts. He does not get tired of criticizing the current government on his page in the social network. Experts say that Palchevsky is playing on the mood of those voters who previously voted for the Party of Regions or the communists. Bohdan Petrenko calls his electorate blue and white, according to the color of the party banners. "If he comes out with Klitschko in the second round, he can play on the ‘patriot - not patriot’ confrontation and win on this combination," says Petrenko.

But do not forget that recently Palchevsky has slightly increased his rating. As recently as May, according to the Rating sociological group, showman Sergiy Prytula entered the second round together with Klitschko. He ranked second with support at 9.1%, while "Servant of the people" Olexander Tkachenko (8.8%) won bronze, and Palchevsky himself closed the top four with a rating of 8.2%. Now the alignments have changed: Palchevsky strengthened his position, and Tkachenko, after the primaries, dropped out of the list of contenders. Instead of him, as already mentioned, Iryna Vereshchuk from the presidential political force will run.

Vereshchuk: no more intrigue

‘Servant of the people’ party did not disclose the name of its candidate for a very long time. In the spring, Olexander Tkachenko, Mykola Tishchenko and Olexandr Dubinsky were named the most likely candidates for the mayor's chair. The chief sanitary doctor Viktor Lyashko also joined this company, who, although not a member of the ‘Servant of the people’, could be its nominee at the mayoral races.

But the intra-party primaries of the "servants", held in mid-July, dotted all the i's. Experts explain the victory of Iryna Vereshchuk by the fact that MP Tkachenko took the post of Minister of Culture and Information Policy, MP Tishchenko received a significant anti-rating due to the work of his Velure restaurant during quarantine, and the increase in the number of Covid-19 infected in June-July questioned the chances for success of the sanitary doctor Lyashko.

"I proposed my candidacy when I heard that different candidates are being considered. I have a certain basis to submit my candidacy, because I understand this, I have lived in this for many years, I know and can. Why not then present my vision of what can be done in the local elections in Kyiv?” said Vereshchuk shortly before the primaries.

Saying that she understands the capital’s issues, the MP meant her previous experience as a mayor. Vereshchuk, 40, for five years (2010-2015) was the mayor of Rava-Russka, a small town in the Lviv region. But in Rava there was one unpleasant incident for Vereshchuk: Mrs. Mayor made up the duties of the mayor ahead of schedule, referring to the pressure "from the side of pseudo-patriots." And before that, in 2014, she tried to become an MP, running for the Verkhovna Rada as a self-nominated candidate. This experience was a failure, and Vereshchuk got into parliament only in 2019, in the Servant of the People party list.

"Vereshchuk has some fame, as well as certain ambitions. She dreams of a long-term political career and builds scenarios for her future without the ‘Servant of the people’. As the mayor of the provincial Rava-Russka, she was able to get into parliament, or rather, she was pushed there, but this issue will not be repeated a second time, and Vereshchuk understands this. Therefore, she is thinking about an autonomous political perspective," says Andriy Zolotarev, head of the Third Sector Center.

Assessing Vereshchuk's chances in the elections, the expert adds: "She is on the side of the party, in fact, the president's rating will work for her. We will see which of the two - Vereshchuk or Palchevsky - will make it to the second round. Both have opportunities. Another question and how they will use them. It plays into their hands the fact that Klitschko has not only a significant rating, but also a great anti-rating. Therefore, the task of the applicant for the second round is to unite the protest electorate around him."

The task is the task, but we would like to get acquainted with the electoral program of Iryna Vereshchuk. However, its (program) does not yet exist. Vereshchuk only promised that she would be "non-linear and will surprise competitors." What exactly she will do – she did not specify. And so far the main problem of the candidate is that she remains unrecognizable for the capital.

"The name of Zelensky, of course, adds points, but for a non-Kyiv woman Vereshchuk it will be very difficult to win in the capital. It's the same if Klitschko decided to run in Odesa. Therefore, I think, the votes will flow from the Servant of the people. To whom? Either to Palchevsky, or to Pritula, but since the latter does nothing, then, most likely, to Palchevsky. And in this case, I would not be so confident in the victory of Klitschko", Sazonov emphasizes again.

However, Vereshchuk, obviously, would not agree with Sazonov. She considers herself a sufficient threat to Klitschko, whom she is currently challenged to a verbal duel. “I know that he is such a champion, that he is an athlete. Well, and he is a man. He cannot refuse to debate with competitors, and I believe that I am his competitor,” she says.

However, the "man and champion" successfully ignored this playful appeal. At least as of now.

And the rest of the characters

As for the other contenders, the political parties still have not given specific names. Either they are undecided, or they simply hold the intrigue. According to the Razumkov Center's assumptions, Batkivshchyna will be represented by Vitaly Nestor, European Solidarity by Olexiy Honcharenko, and Holos by Serhiy Prytula.

They all have very small chances of even reaching the second round, let alone winning it. Meanwhile, they need to compete with Klitschko in a fairly short time and become preferred for the residents of the capital, as well as offer them a program of changes in Kyiv. At the very least, this means that candidates should not waste time.

“Despite all the sympathy for Prytula, it should be noted that he differs slightly from Zelensky. And from Klitschko, because this is the same category of people who at the time of the elections were recognizable and popular,” notes Bogdan Petrenko.

As for the ‘European Solidarity’ MP Oleksiy Honcharenko, despite a number of billboards that appeared on the streets, they do not speak directly about his possible candidacy. Though the hints are more than obvious and transparent. Honcharenko broadly covers the problems of the capital in his social networks, criticizes Klitschko and actively communicates with voters.

Another possible candidate from parliamentary parties may be a representative of Batkivshchyna Vitaly Nestor. A 31-year-old lawyer who is completely unknown to the general public, who ran for this party in one of the districts of Kyiv in the last parliamentary elections, but lost. Now a lot of money has been thrown into the promotion of Nestor, who does not "get off" from the Kyiv theme.

Sazonov calls Nestor "the new star of Batkivshchyna", recalling that he is the head of the capital's branch of this party. And Ruslan Bortnyk notes that Nestor, like Honcharenko, may be entrusted with the task not so much to defeat Klitschko, but to "go" to the Kyiv City Council and form his own faction there, which will also be a significant help to the "senior" political partners.

But the formation of factions and the majority in the Kyiv City Council is a separate big problem. Do not forget that in the fall we will elect not only and not so much the head of the capital, but also the capital's "parliament". Life in the city also largely depends on who will be part of it and how the factions will interact with each other. Kyrylo Sazonov suggests that the majority can be formed by Klitschko's Udar and Zelensky's Servant of the People. And Andriy Zolotarev believes that there will be no coalition in the Kyiv City Council at all. "They will negotiate on a situational basis," he says.

But for this, both the patriotic forces and other political formations must first win the elections. Therefore, we are waiting for autumn - the time of harvesting, including political and electoral.

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