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Who odds high enough to become Lviv mayor?

Author : Natalia Lebed

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ukraine's local elections to be held on October 25; the harsh election campaign has almost started: who is who in this race?
16:01, 10 August 2020

112 Agency

Andriy Sadovyi, the current mayor of Lviv, joined the so-called “quarantine boycott,” which was staged by his colleagues from Lutsk and Ternopil. Unlike the last two cities, Lviv was not in the “red zone” but in the "orange" one, however, the mayor did not like this marker either. The city decided not to fulfill the conditions of even the "orange zone." Sabotage has manifested itself, in particular, in the fact that fitness centers and hostels in Lviv continue to work, albeit in compliance with the lockdown standards. This is what Sadovyi decided, noting that there is no need to further adapt the city to the rules of the "orange zone."

Whether the mayor is right from an epidemiological point of view or not is a separate question. But Sadovyi made a good bid for the elections. His main message is that Lviv will not dance to the tune of Kyiv. Local elites have always liked this approach. And Sadovyi obviously knows what he is doing: his rating is the highest among other contenders for the mayor's chair, but one should not forget about the second round. Sometimes a candidate who had a second indicator in the second round broke into the lead. This happened even in the presidential elections, for example, in 1994, when Kuchma finally bypassed Kravchuk.

In a word, Sadovyi (Lviv's permanent mayor since 2006) is working towards his likely victory right now. It is clear that the competitors are not lagging behind. Each has its own set of baits, which is usually used to catch the voter.

Related: Anti-corruption bodies file indictment against Odesa mayor to court

Polls: no surprises

The sociological group "Rating" interviewed Lviv citizens about their electoral sympathies two weeks ago. The results showed that the three leaders remain unchanged: the first place belongs to Sadovyi, who with the result more than twice bypasses his closest opponent - one of the leaders of the far-right Svoboda party Ruslan Koshulynsky, and former Lviv governor, MP from European Solidarity Oleh Synyutka, who ranks third in the ranking of likely candidates.

More specifically, Sadovyi is supported by 38.1% of respondents, Ruslan Koshulynsky – by 17.9% of respondents, Oleh Synyutka – 13.8%. At the same time, Sadovyi's rating increased by 3% compared to the beginning of July, Koshulynsky - by 2.2%, and Synyutka’s - by 1.6%.

The fourth place among candidates belongs to the deputy of Lviv City Council Ihor Zinkevich (10.7%). Next come chairman of the council of the Civil Position party Volodymyr Hirnyak - 5.4%, MP Yaroslav Rushchyshyn - 3.4%, and ex-MP Ihor Vasyunyk - 3.4%. The result of other likely applicants does not exceed 2%. As for the presidential political force, the Servant of the People party has not yet named its candidate for Lviv, however, whoever he is, Lviv residents are ready to give no more than 1.8% of the vote for him.

Despite Sadovyi's high personal rating, his Samopomich party is barely flickering. European Solidarity is the leader in Lviv and the region. And after the EU, by a considerable margin, electoral sympathies are distributed in the appropriate sequence between Servant of the People, Holos, Batkivshchyna, Samopomich, Svoboda, and Civil Position. The rest of the political forces have not yet overcome the 5% passing threshold.

Related: Who has chance to win mayoral elections in Kyiv?

Sadovyi: trams and medicine

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How does Sadovy, who announced in March last year that he would no longer run for mayor, take voters? The quarantine boycott has already been mentioned above. In addition, the current mayor is actively involved in infrastructure: he is laying a tram line to Sykhiv, reconstructing Palace Square and Chernivtska Street adjacent to the railway station, and repairing central streets.

In addition, the mayor began to take an active interest in healthcare problems. For example, on July 4, after a heart transplant operation was performed for the first time in the Lviv emergency hospital, as well as a two kidney transplant, the mayor came with letters of honor. He also promised each medical worker who took part in these operations, 360 USD.

Earlier, this hospital purchased a system for PCR studies for coronavirus worth 43,000 USD. And also, a new unique multislice 64-slice computed tomography scanner for 0,8 million USD. Add plus 700 USD of help from the city for doctors who are sick with Covid-19.

Sadovyi is working hard. And not in vain! After all, not only mayorship is at stake for Sadovyi. He is subjected to a criminal proceeding: back in November last year, the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAP) handed Sadovyi a suspicion of power abuse. It was then about fraud with land plots located on the territory of one of the village councils of the Lviv region. The deals caused damage to the state in the amount of over 3,4 million USD, prosecutors said.

However, already in the winter of 2020, his lawyer Ruslan Sydorovych assured that all obligations under the criminal proceedings open against Sadovyi had expired, and the prosecutor's office did not apply to the court to extend them. Thus, Sadovyi allegedly is not in danger. However, the reinsurance in the form of a high office plays at his hand.

Related: Local elections will be held with restrictions due to coronavirus, - Zelensky

Koshulynsky and Synyutka: a duel for reaching the final

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Meanwhile, the above-mentioned Koshulynsky and Synyutka will compete for the right to enter the second round. This is not the first time for a far-right Svoboda representative: in last year's elections, he successfully took this bar and won silver for himself. He also managed to significantly improve his result between the first and second rounds. Because if in the first round only 12% of voters voted for him (Sadovyi had 39%), then in the second round Koshulynsky received 37% (Sadovyi - 61%).

The advantage of Koshulynsky is better media promotion. In addition, in addition, he has been working as a deputy speaker of parliament, and, consequently, has the status of a national politician, which also makes him recognizable. However, the reputation of any far-right Svoboda member is questioned by the fact that according to rumors, one of the party's sponsors is crime boss Ihor Kryvetsky, nicknamed “Pups” ("Bobblehead" in English). Probably, the success of Koshulynsky will depend on how far he distances himself from any compromising ties. But we must give him his due: he builds his image very competently, bypassing things that can play against him.

His rival Synyutka is far from Koshulynsky in this respect. In 2014-2019, Oleh Synyutka has been heading the Lviv regional administration, in 2006 to 2014 he has been working in the Lviv city council, and since 2007 he has been serving the first deputy of Sadovyi and was directly involved in the "economy" of the city. Despite the achievements in his previous activities (both in the city council and as chairman of the Lviv region administration), Lviv residents do not know him enough. And this is a disadvantage, because the campaign is rather short, and there is little time for promotion. But Synyutka has a trump card in the form of a war elephant, which Koshulynsky is deprived of.

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Synyutka's advantage is that he is a representative of a popular political force in Lviv. Local media write that Petro Poroshenko will personally come to join the campaign for a candidate from his party. Therefore, it is extremely important for Synyutka that the rating of "European Solidarity" is linked to it and that the EU voters in the first round do not crumble into other, more promoted candidates. Koshulynsky has no such support in the person of the party leader since head of far-right Svoboda Oleh Tyahnybok has significantly reduced his public activity and media presence.

Third echelon: waiting for a candidate from Servant of the People

The rest of the contenders for the Lviv mayor's office are not too popular among the general public. Local deputy Ihor Zinkevych is among the candidates. He also deals with the infrastructure and restoration of historical monuments. And he is going to go to the elections under the brand of the new party, called Varta (Fire).

Related: Central Election Commission ready for challenges regarding local elections in Ukraine

Speaking about Volodymyr Hirnyak, Deputy Chairman of the Lviv Regional Council, the current campaign is not his first one. In the last elections of Lviv mayor, Hirnyak came third after Sadovyi and Koshulynsky. Hirnyak has not yet announced his next mayor's ambitions, but he has already distinguished himself with billboards on the streets of Lviv with the text "The Power to Change Lviv".

MP Yaroslav Rushchyshyn takes the next ranking line after Zinkevych and Hirnyak. When going to the polls, Ruschyshyn promised to stop "shows and fights." Ruschyshyn was elected to parliament from the Holos party, whose leader Svyatoslav Vakarchuk recently resigned as party chairman and MP. This can hit any prospects for Ruschyshyn, especially since the rating of the Holos party in the region has dropped significantly (9.1% now versus 23.01% in 2019).

Ihor Vasyunyk is next on the list; he has been an MP twice, he represented Batkivshchyna and the National Front parties. Vasyunyk has run for mayor more than once, but each time he lost. In 2015, his personal failure was the campaign about "two Lvivs" (tourist and "facade" one, and "for home use", unattractive and nondescript, which was built by the local authorities).

Another MP of the previous convocations, Dmytro Dobrodomov, is taking part in the elections. Former media worker and former presidential candidate, the current leader of the People's Control party. However, his ratings are not even measured - in any case, there is no data on his support now.

The biggest intrigue of the Lviv campaign is who would be nominated for mayor by the pro-presidential party. The local media Vysoky Zamok writes: “There were rumors that the current ambassador of Ukraine to Poland, Andriy Deshchytsia, could run from the ruling party, but he did not agree. Some people say that showman Serhiy Prytula was considered as a candidate from the Zelensky’s party, but it also did not work out. It is rumored that he would participate in the elections of the mayor of his native Ternopil.”

Pros, cons, pitfalls

Bogdan Petrenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Study of Extremism, says "a candidate at the level of a mayor or president always has his own conditional ten percent of voters who would support him. That is, these are the people who support the government on the principle ‘as long as it’s not worse."

Related: Ukraine to hold local elections on October 25

In addition to the core electorate, Sadovyi has obvious economic successes, the expert is convinced. Petrenko praises Lviv, noting that every time he comes to this city, he sees changes for the better.

But, as you know, it is important not only to win the battle but also to consolidate its result. Sadovyi-Mayor's life can be significantly complicated by his uneasy relationship with Petro Poroshenko and his party European Solidarity. If the European Solidarity enters the Lviv City Council, and even brings its powerful faction there – with a claim to form a majority – the mayor will need all his diplomatic skills.

Will all the bonuses go to Synyutka, Poroshenko’s ally, or far-right Koshulynsky? The former spares no money for the campaign (according to Zaxid.net, the cost of Synyutka’s advertising campaign exceeds 80,000 USD per month), and the latter makes every effort so that Svoboda could remind of itself. But the problem with this party is that it "just does not offer answers to universal human questions. It does not change and does not transform, its rhetoric is unchanged - no matter what happens around," says political analyst Yevhen Bulavka.

“Svoboda has lost its positions as a result of the events of 2014. However, voters in the Lviv region show support for individual personalities, present in this far-right force’s ranks. And although this party has lost on a national scale, at the local level it retains the support of its individual representatives,” Bohdan Petrenko adds.

So who - the far-right Svoboda candidate, the European Solidarity candidate or the incumbent Lviv mayor, will win on October 25?

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