Ukraine Elections - March + April + October 2019
Ukraine held its first round presidential election on 31 March 2019, followed by parliamentary elections in autumn. The two-candidate presidential runoff would be on April 21. While Poroshenko was polling at a measly 7 to 8 percent, November 2018 opinion polls placed rival Yulia Tymoshenko and her Batkivshchyna party at a slightly higher 18 percent.
So far six political candidates, including former prime minister and leader of Fatherland political party Yulia Tymoshenko, and the Radical Party leader Oleh Lyashko, have expressed interest in standing. At least double this number, including the incumbent president, Petro Poroshenko, also are likely to participate. A May 2018 poll by the Kiev International Sociology Institute (KIIS), showed no clear favorites based on current voting intentions. Tymoshenko led with 16.1% followed by independent MP and former defence minister (2005–2007) Anatoliy Hrytsenko with 12.7%, with Lyashko and Poroshenko each having 12.2% support. All other potential candidates scored single-digit backing.
As the next parliamentary election is scheduled for 27 October 2019, the new president, who runs defense and foreign policy, would serve in tandem for nearly six months with the current coalition government led by Volodymyr Groisman, which includes the Poroshenko Bloc and the People's Front party of former prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
On 26 October 2014, Ukraine held elections for the Supreme Council (Verkhovna Rada). As the current parliament was elected in 2012 the next elections were scheduled for 2017. However, in August 2014 several parties withdrew from the governing coalition leading President Poroshenko to dissolve parliament and schedule early elections.
The Verkhovna Rada uses a parallel system where 225 members are elected through a closed-list proportional representation system to serve 5-year terms, and 225 members are elected by majority vote in single-member constituencies to serve 5-year terms.
The IMF postponed a $1.7 billion tranche to Ukraine until Ukraine is put "back on a promising path of reform." On 10 February 2016 IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde warned: "Without a substantial new effort to invigorate governance reforms and fight corruption, it is hard to see how the IMF-supported program can continue and be successful."
The dominant view in Washington is that Ukraine must avoid early parliamentary elections. Many Ukrainians see them as inevitable. The 30-day term for creating a new parliamentary majority coalition expired on 19 March 2016. The president then had the right to call a snap election to the Verkhovna Rada. Another option was for the president to begin holding consultations with parliamentary faction leaders to create a new majority coalition, which will form a new government.
"Populists, oligarchs and Kremlin are those forces are the most interested in early parliamentary elections," Yatseniuk said during the "10 Minutes with Prime Minister" program, aired by the ICTV television network on 13 March 2016. "The Kremlin, in turn, wants a weak Ukraine fractured by internecine quarreling and conflicts. Putin will use Ukraine's political fiasco to divide the EU, lift sanctions and justify crimes he has committed against the Ukrainian state," the prime minister said. "Those who are laying the groundwork for early parliamentary polls are giving Putin an opportunity," he added.
The Minsk agreements approved on 12 February 2015 by leaders of the Normandy Four (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine) envisaged ceasefire and also laid out a roadmap for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and constitutional reform to give more autonomy to the war-torn eastern regions.
Elections in certain areas of Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine cannot be held in the coming two years, the deputy head of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission, Andrei Magera, said on 17 March 2016. "I don’t believe that it is possible to hold elections not only in June 2016, I doubt that in June 2017 they can be held," Magera told Channel 5 TV. Director general of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine Alexei Koshel also said holding the elections in eastern Ukraine in the near future was impossible. In the best case scenario, the polls in Donbass could take place no earlier than in five years, Koshel said. In the worst case scenario, this could happen in ten or more years, he added.
On Monday 28 March 2016 Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's party said it had agreed to form a new alliance with Fatherland and Ukraine's biggest faction, belonging to President Petro Poroshenko. But the head of Ukraine 'Bat'kivschyna' (Fatherland) Party, Yulia Tymoshenko, said on 29 March 2016 that her party had up to 15 conditions that needed to be met before a coalition could be formed. "If someone thinks that parliament needs to be saved, then we have to outline together 10-15 categorical conditions that must be met before the formation of any coalition and which are related to the lives of people," Tymoshenko said in parliament. Leader of Petro Poroshenko Bloc, Yuriy Lutsenko, said he welcomed a decision by Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk's party to renew the coalition.
On March 29, 2016 Ukraine's parliament accepted the resignation of the general prosecutor, who had been criticized for not doing enough to tackle corruption. The move came a day after several hundred protesters rallied outside the parliament building calling for Viktor Shokin to step down. President Petro Poroshenko had asked Shokin, who was considered one of his closer allies, to quit. Shokin had failed to prosecute any allies of disgraced ex-President Viktor Yanukovych and was, instead, cleansing his office of reform-minded prosecutors.
Poroshenko also asked Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to resign because of failures to deal with government corruption. Ukraine's three major parliamentary parties agreed to form a new coalition on March 29 and nominate parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Hroysman to be Ukraine's new prime minister. The three new coalition partners include Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's party, President Petro Poroshenko's faction, and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's Fatherland party. All three were previously coalition partners.
Last-minute demands raised by former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's Fatherland party dashed hopes for a new governing coalition in Ukraine on March 29. Tymoshenko, at a meeting of prospective coalition members, raised new demands, including scrapping a tax on pension payments and rolling back energy price hikes. The price hikes were a key reform demanded by the International Monetary Fund as part of Ukraine's bailout program.
The President Petro Poroshenko's 'BPP' political bloc and the People's Front of Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk together had 219 lawmakers, only seven fewer than the number needed to form a coalition and appoint a new government. On March 30, 2016 several non-aligned Ukrainian lawmakers agreed to join Ukraine's biggest faction to help end the political crisis.
The New York Times editorial board published a piece called "Ukraine’s Unyielding Corruption" on 31 March 2016. " ... the president, the prime minister and the parliament must be made to understand that the International Monetary Fund and donor nations, including the United States, cannot continue to shovel money into a corrupt swamp unless the government starts shaping the democratic rule that Ukrainians demanded in their protests."
According to a massive leak of documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca on 02 April 2016, President Petro Poroshenko was tied to secret offshore companies on the British Virgin Islands. The Ukrainian Prosecutor-General's office said it had seen no evidence that Poroshenko committed a crime based on the leaked documents. The head of Ukraine's populist Radical Party called for an impeachment investigation into Poroshenko over allegations he used an offshore account to avoid tax.
Timothy Ash, the London-based head of Central Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa credit strategy for Nomura International, wrote 05 April 2016 " Panama-gate likely has moved Poroshenko's focus elsewhere, and now he likely needs all the friends he can get, so not willing to take Yatsenyuk out just yet... For Poroshenko it is now about his personal survival first ... the most likely scenario is that Arseniy Yatsenyuk stays as prime minister, with Natalie Jaresko staying as minister of finance, so Verkhovna Rada Speaker Volodymyr Groysman hopes to become prime minister fall by the wayside for the time being."
Yatsenyuk lost much of his base when he championed painful austerity measures to get financing from Western institutions and prop up the ailing economy. An opinion poll by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) revealed 20 July 2015 Arseniy Yatsenyuk would get only 2.4 percent in presidential elections if they were held in July 2015.
By early 2016 Arseniy Yatsenyuk's approval ratings were near zero. Ukraine's embattled prime minister Yatsenyuk said 10 April 2016 he is resigning, opening the way for a new government to be formed in an effort to end Kyiv's political crisis. Yatsenyuk said that he hoped his resignation, to be formally submitted to parliament on Tuesday 12 April 2016, would give Ukraine a chance to adopt new electoral, constitutional and judicial reforms and to join the European Union and NATO, the western military alliance.
On 14 April 2016 the Ukrainian parliament elected a new prime minister, after accepting Arseniy Yatsenyuk's resignation. Lawmakers voted 250-57 in favor of President Petro Poroshenko’s nominee, Volodymyr Groysman, who had been the speaker of parliament. Andriy Parubiy replaced Groysman as speaker.
Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili announced plans on 11 November 2016 to fight corruption in Ukraine with a new opposition party. Saakashvili resigned from his position as governor of Odessa on 07 November 2016. Saakashvili, who served as Georgia's president from 2004 until 2013, left his country after the war with Russia in 2008. Saakashvili assumed Ukrainian citizenship after the 2014 Ukrainian revolution and became governor of Odessa in May 2015. He resigned from his post, accusing Poroshenko of blocking reforms in the coastal region. He said his new party would fight corruption in Ukrainian politics and try to bring about early elections. "Our goal is to force early parliamentary elections as soon as possible," he said.
Saakashvili joined a number of foreign politicians who resigned or who were dismissed due to the growing disillusionment with the pace of reforms after the revolution removed Russia-backed President Viktor Yanukovych. "[Poroshenko] had a chance to use me for implementing real reforms in this country, but it turned out that the real reforms and his wealth are opposite things," said Saakashvili. Poroshenko is also one of Ukraine's wealthiest businessmen.
Yulia Tymoshenko occupied the top spot in an analysis of "populists and liars in Ukrainian politics" conducted by the Kyiv-based think tank Vox Ukraine in February 2018. Vox Ukraine wrote that "patent untruth can be found in 26% of Tymoshenko's statements" and "manipulations were discovered in nearly half of [the Fatherland party] leader's quotations."
A nationwide poll of Ukraine by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in SurveyResearch released 1 May 2018 revealed widespread political disaffection among Ukrainian youth, significant need for healthcare reform and high level of distrust of Russian media outlets. A combined 20 percent of Ukrainians ages 18-35 believe that that they will have a good future in Ukraine, while less than one third intend to “definitely” vote in the next election.
Some 63% of the respondents said they would definitely or probably vote in the parliamentary elections scheduled for October 2019. Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party was leading the polls with 9% of total possible voters followed by the Opposition bloc (the rump of Yanukovych’s former Party of Regions ruling party) with 5% that ties with Poroshenko’s party for second place.
Ukraine has a mixed system where 50% of seats are distributed under party lists with a 5% election threshold and 50% through first-past-the-post in single-member constituencies. Counting out the “won't votes” from the poll numbers and seven parties should enter parliament but stepping back and it is clear that none of the parties have a clear lead over the others which will make it hard to hammer out any definitive policy in the new Rada.
Poroshenko’s own disapproval rating had doubled over the past four years up from 27% “strongly disapproving” of the president to 50% now. If you include the “somewhat disapprove” then full 81% of the population don't like the actions of their president. The Prime Minister Volodymyr is Groysman is not much more popular. Tymoshenko who is the most likely to win the next parliamentary elections is a polarising figure with 48% of respondents holding a “very unfavourable” view of the former prime minister. Former prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, another leading Maidan figure, is now the most unpopular of all the political leaders with 65% strongly disliking him.
A lot of the disappointment was rooted in the government’s palpable failure to make any significant progress with reforms. People were angry about the endemic corruption which the overwhelming majority believed put money into the politicians pockets, impoverished the population, undermined growth, demoralised society and leads to inequality.
Ukraine's parliament voted 26 November 2018 to approve martial law in 10 of the country's 27 regions. President Petro Poroshenko said martial law will help "strengthen Ukraine's defense capabilities amid increasing aggression and according to international law a cold act of aggression by the Russian Federation." He added that Ukraine intends "to keep adhering to all international obligations." Russia fired on two Ukrainian naval ships and rammed a third vessel Sunday in the Black Sea, seizing the ships and accusing them of illegally entering its territorial waters. Sergii Leshchenko noted in November 2018 that "... after the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych, state power was seized by politicians with exactly the same values as the fugitive – but with a better command of English. ... Poroshenko strongly adheres to the public relations strategy laid down for him by his political technologists to help him win a second term. It contains just three messages: “Language, Faith, Army.” Poroshenko doesn’t talk about other issues at all, while promoting a law on the obligatory use of the Ukrainian language in media and conducting a campaign in favour of autocephaly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.... Today, his rhetoric makes no mention of the fight against corruption, about the rule of law and the need to attract foreign investment...
"Poroshenko’s goal is not to convince the whole country to elect him. Instead, the president wants to position himself before a certain part of society in order to make it into the second round. Given that Tymoshenko’s negative approval rating is significantly higher than her positive one, Poroshenko believes that if he goes head-to-head with her in a second round, he will win. Meanwhile, Tymoshenko also sees Poroshenko, who is surrounded by a series of corruption scandals, as her ideal candidate, whom she can beat with her fiery social rhetoric.
"If Yulia Tymoshenko is elected president, the country could spiral into populism; fulfilling her election promises would mean a reduction in gas prices. Tymoshenko speaks about a “special path for Ukraine,” which entails refusing to comply with the demands of the IMF and a rupture in ties with various financial organisations. This could culminate in a financial default. Furthermore, the election of Tymoshenko would also provoke further speculation about her secret agreements with Russia, rumours of which have circulated ever since she was investigated for business schemes of the 1990s....
"Minister of Defence Anatoly Hrytsenko came third place in opinion polls this summer. The lack of real competitors have made Hrytsenko the only alternative for those in society who want change. However, his position may be rocked by the nomination of another reform candidate, mayor of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, Andriy Sadovyi. Famous Ukrainian rock singer Svyatoslav Vakarchuk has also kept up the intrigue surrounding his possible participation in the elections.
"But the main surprise might be the popularity of Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a comedian who plays the president of Ukraine in the popular TV series, Servant of the People. Many are fond of his rhetoric, so much so that they are prepared to believe in Zelenskiy’s ability to act the same way in real life as he does on screen...."
On 20 December 2018 TASS reported that the leader and head of the parliamentary faction of the Batkivshchyna party, Yulia Tymoshenko, leads the presidential rating in most regions of the country, and the current president, Petro Poroshenko, headed negative anti-rating. This is evidenced by the research data of the sociological group "Rating".
According to the survey, Tymoshenko headed the rating in all regions of central Ukraine, gaining more than 20% of the vote. So, in Vinnytsia, it would have gained 23.8%, in Kiev - 26.4%, in Poltava - 25.3%, in Kirovograd - 24.1%, and in Chernihiv region 26.8% of respondents are ready to vote for it. The leader of Batkivshchyna ranked first in most of the western regions of Ukraine: 21.1% of respondents are ready to vote for it in Chernivtsi, 20.3% in the Transcarpathian region, and 22.5% in Ivano-Frankivsk.
In the south-east of Ukraine, Tymoshenko was also supported in almost all areas, with the exception of the controlled regions of Donetsk and Lugansk regions, in which Yuriy Boyko, leader of the Opposition Platform - For Life party, wins, gaining more than 20%. So, the leader of "Batkivshchyna" would have won in Zaporizhia (22%), Nikolaev (20.3%), Odessa (19.9%), Kherson regions (22.2%).
At the same time, sociologists note that the current president, Petro Poroshenko, headed negative rating in all regions of Ukraine. In no case, more than 40% of respondents would have voted for him. Under any circumstances, 75% of respondents will not vote for the current president in the Odessa region, 66% in the Chernigov region.
The survey was conducted from November 16 to December 9, 2018. In a study conducted by personal interviews, 1600 respondents took part in every region of Ukraine, with the exception of the Crimea and uncontrolled districts of Donetsk and Lugansk regions. The sample was formed taking into account the age and gender structure of the region, taking into account the type of settlement. The error is not more than 2.4%.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a leading Ukrainian actor and comedian is widely speculated to be backed by oligarch Igor Kolomoiskiy / Ihor Kolomoyskiy. Igor Kolomoiskiy is Ukraine's second-richest man with a personal fortune of $1.3 billion, according to Forbes.
Although Dnipropetrovsk is not the power center it was in the mid-late 1990s, it is still home to two major "oligarchs"--Viktor Pinchuk and the Pryvat duo of Ihor Kolomoyskiy and Hennadiy Boholubov. Kolomoyskiy is the oligarch who controlled UKRNAFTA, Ukraine's largest oil company. Kolomoisky fell out with Poroshenko in a dispute over state-owned energy companies that culminated in armed and masked men storming state-owned energy company UkrTransNafta in March 2015.
Ukraine's central bank says an investigation into the country's largest lender, PrivatBank, shows that it had been "subjected to a large-scale and coordinated fraud" over at least a decade. The fraud resulted in the bank, which was taken into state control in 2016, suffering a loss of at least $5.5 billion, the central bank said in a statement on 16 January 2018. One of the bank's former main shareholders, Ihor Kolomoyskyy, dismissed the results of the probe as "nonsense."
PrivatBank’s nationalization occurred in December 2016 with the backing of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), after risky lending practices left it with a capital shortfall of more than $5.5 billion. At the time, the central bank estimated that 97 percent of its corporate loans had gone to companies linked to Kolomoyskyy and the other main shareholder, Hennadiy Boholyubov.
Kolomoyskyy, one of Ukraine's richest men, served briefly as head of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast before President Petro Poroshenko dismissed him in 2015, accusing him of setting up a private militia and trying to take over a state-affiliated oil company. Kolomoyskyy had been credited with preventing the spread of separatist sentiment in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast following Russia's seizure of Crimea in March 2014.
Zelenskiy ended months of speculation by announcing he will run in the country’s upcoming presidential election. The 40-year-old, who is the creator and director of Quarter 95 studios, said during an appearance on a television show late on 31 December 2018 that he had decided to run to “try to change something in Ukraine.” “Unlike our great politicians, I did not want to make promises in vain. But now, just a few minutes before the New Year, I can promise you I'll do it in the right way,” he said during a Quarter 95 comedy program that was being broadcast on the 1+1 television channel.
If he were to win the election, Zelenskiy may find it easy to slip into the role of president. He currently stars in the popular television comedy series Servant Of The People, where he portrays a regular schoolteacher who becomes president. One poll by the Seetarget research company, conducted in the first week of December 2018, showed Zelenskiy in second place with 9 percent. Tymoshenko topped the poll with 12.7 percent, while Poroshenko placed third with 8.6 percent.
As she slipped from the top spot in preelection polls, Yulia Tymoshenko began to offer explosive and seemingly unsubstantiated claims in the first week in February 2019 in an obvious effort to climb back atop an expanding field of candidates. The first accusation came on February 4, when the former prime minister accused President Petro Poroshenko's reelection campaign of attempting to buy Ukrainians' votes for 1,000 hryvnyas ($36). Without providing proof, she urged Ukraine's interior minister and prosecutor-general to launch probes into the matter. Members of Poroshenko's party, in turn, accused Tymoshenko's camp of bribing voters and improperly collecting their personal data.
The kickoff of Tymoshenko's nationwide campaign tour on February 5 in her hometown of Dnipro especially resonated with her critics on social media. She told a crowd of supporters waving blue-and-yellow posters adorned with her "I Believe!" slogan that U.S.-born acting Ukrainian Health Minister Ulana Suprun was "sent by foreigners" who want to "experiment on Ukrainians." The video clip that highlighted the "experiment" comment shared by activist group EuroMaydan that quickly spread across Ukrainian social media. Suprun had been hailed by officials and activists in Ukraine and the West for implementing crucial health-care reforms that reportedly have dealt a blow to corrupt practices within the industry.
Tymoshenko's allegations came after five of six independent polls showed her falling behind Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a comedian who portrays a president on a popular TV series and is now running to be the actual president of Ukraine. Many of the same polls showed Zelenskyy defeating Tymoshenko should the two advance to a second round. Poroshenko, a businessman and compromise candidate in a special election after pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych fled and war with Russia-backed separatists broke out in 2014, has polled third in four of the same surveys and second in the other two. All of them put his popularity below 18 percent.
In his bid to secure re-election, incumbent president Petro Poroshenko, who was trailing according to opinion polls in third place, had not been shy to label his two main rivals: popular TV comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the upstart frontrunner, and veteran politician Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister now campaigning as a recast Ukrainian nationalist, as “agents of the Kremlin.” The top openly pro-Russian candidate, Yuriy Boyko, a former deputy prime minister and ally of ousted authoritarian president Viktor Yanukovych, who was driven from office by the popular Maidan uprising in 2014, languishrf in fourth place.
Pollster Rating Group on March 28 showed Zelenskyy with 26.6 percent of the vote, followed by President Petro Poroshenko tied with former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko at 17.2 percent. A Democratic Initiatives Foundation poll the same day put the comic in the lead with 27.6 percent, followed by Poroshenko at 18.2 percent and Tymoshenko at 12.8 percent.
Comedian and political novice Volodymyr Zelenskiy defeated incumbent president Petro Poroshenko in Ukraine's first round of presidential elections, according to exit polls, leading the two candidates into a run-off election. Zelenskiy, a comedian who plays the role of the president in a television comedy series, was projected to win 30.4 percent of the vote, easily beating Poroshenko, in power since 2014, who earned 17.8 percent, according to the Central Election Commission's report.
Zelenskiy will receive 71.4 percent of the vote in the second round of the presidential election, according to a poll by Rating sociological group, conducted on April 5-10 and published on 11 April 2019. Poroshenko would take only 28.6 percent of the votes of those who said they would come to the polling stations and who have made up their minds who to vote for, the poll results showed. More than 10 percent of those polled said they would not vote, and 14.8 percent who plan to vote in the run-off said they are yet to decide whom they would vote for.
In the second round of the presidential elections in Ukraine, two candidates met - Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky. The day before the vote, they held a debate at the NSC Olimpiyskiy. Poroshenko called his opponent "a puppet of oligarchs", reproached him with a lack of political experience and called on his supporters to "unite and protect the country together." Zelensky called himself "the man who came to break the system," and added that he was going to the presidency for one term.
The Central Election Commission processed 1.01% of the ballots after the second round of the presidential elections in Ukraine. The information was published on the official website of the CEC. The first place belongs to the showman and businessman Vladimir Zelensky - 69.26%. The current President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko won 28.33% of the vote. According to the exit poll of TSN and the Ilk Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the Kiev International Institute of Sociology, in the second round of elections, Vladimir Zelensky scored 70% of the vote, Petro Poroshenko - more than 25%. Poroshenko, at his own press conference, acknowledged his defeat and noted that he was not leaving politics . After some time, he called Zelensky , congratulated him on his victory and offered his help.
Zelenskiy said he would push for early parliamentary elections if elected president as the unicameral Verkhovna Rada is controlled by Poroshenko's ruling party. The next parliamentary elections were scheduled for October. He said early elections were part of his idea of a "renewal" of Ukraine's ruling class. The head of the faction "Petro Poroshenko Bloc" Arthur Gerasimov said that parliamentary elections should be held, according to the current legislation, this fall. If the date is changed, it can be a violation of democratic norms, the politician is convinced.
Ukraine’s ruling coalition broke up 17 May 2019 after the People’s Front party quit outgoing President Petro Poroshenko’s faction, potentially paving the way for incoming President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to call a snap election. “We declare our withdrawal from the current coalition, the cessation of its activities ... and the initiative to form a new coalition with a new agenda,” Maksym Burbak, the People’s Front faction leader, told parliament. Parliament now had one month to form a new coalition or else the president can dissolve parliament and call snap parliamentary elections.
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