A local election was held in Ukraine on October 25th. There is no official data from the Central Election Commission yet [at the time of writing, October 25th @ 22:00 local time – ed], but the results of exit polls show the main trends of this vote.
We present the first conclusions from today’s elections.
1. Defeat for “Servants of the People”
The exact scale of their problems will be clear after the final vote count, but it is already clear that everything is very grim for the President’s party.
In major cities, Zelensky’s mayoral candidates didn’t even make it to the second round of voting.
In Kiev the representative of the “Opposition Platform” Aleksandr Popov got to the finish line with Klitschko, and in Odessa – his fellow party member Nikolay Skorik. In Dnepr, the first and second places are shared by the nominees of local parties – Boris Filatov and Zagid Krasnov.
In Kharkov, the current mayor Gennady Kernes won in the first round. And here “Servants” is in third place, and second place was taken by the candidate from “Opposition Platform” Aleksandr Feldman.
And according to party lists, “Servants” are in third place and lower. A typical picture for the city council in a large city is as follows: the local party of the mayor is in the first place, the second – “Opposition Platform” (Kharkov, Odessa) or “European Solidarity“ (Kiev), depending on the region (and in some places they are in first place – for example, in Lvov and Nikolaev). And only then come “Servants”.
There are exceptions – mainly in central Ukraine, where in a number of regional centers “Servants” got a good result. “Servants of the People” in Uzhgorod also have a good result. But even in these cities, they lost votes to a lot of parties like “Za Maybutne” and local projects.
The situation is similar in Krivoy Rog, the president’s native city, where the “Servants” who won first place scored almost as much as the rival bloc of the local mayor Yury Vilkul.
I.e., if we extrapolate to a possible parliamentary election, “Servants” become only the third party in the country, behind both the “Opposition Platform” and “European Solidarity“. Perhaps the results of the elections in the whole country will be somewhat better for “Servants” than the exit polls in large cities, but in general it will definitely not be a clear lead.
Indirectly, the defeat of the party in power is also indicated by a record low turnout – according to the calculations of “Opora”, it fell short of 36%. This indicates the disillusionment of voters – especially with the party that a little more than a year ago was trusted by more than 70% of the population (back then the turnout was 49%). Basically, it was its voters who did not come to vote.
2. “Opposition Platform” strengthened in the southeast
For this party, the main competitors in its base regions were, firstly, the parties of mayors, and, secondly, “Servants of the People”
Based on the results of the campaign, we can conclude that in the southeast “Opposition Platform” ate “Servants”. It was more difficult with the mayoral parties and in many cities they took the lead, but their result is worse than in the last local election. Almost nowhere did they get more than 50%. I.e., they will not be able to control the city council independently.
And “Opposition Platform” picked up a very decent percentage, and therefore can apply for membership in the ruling coalition in the councils of many cities.
Well, a major success for the party was the entry of their candidates in Odessa and, especially, in Kiev into the second round. This once again shows the importance of the person a stake is placed on. The party brand is of course good, but Popov is Popov.
At one time, for Maidan, he was one of the main enemies, and after 2014, he became a person involved in a criminal case about its dispersal.
But today people remember something else more – how during his leadership of the Kiev City State Adminstration metro stations were opened and new junctions were built. I.e., everything was done that is practically not done under Klitschko.
However, Aleksandr Popov’s appearance in the second round has yet to be confirmed by the CEC. Since between him and the “Servant of the People” Irina Vereshchuk, as well as the candidate from “Golos” Pritula, there is a little more than a percent – this is the level of error of the exit poll that gave such data.
But in any case, “Opposition Platform”, which sharply opposes nationalist policies, including in Kiev, is already guaranteed to get into the capital’s city council. This means that for the first time since Maidan, a political alternative to the current course will appear in the capital. And, by the way, the “Svoboda“ party, which was previously the flagship of the nationalist movement in the capital, will no longer be in the Kiev city council.
3. Poroshenko on the right flank
“European Solidarity”, according to the latest data, shows a serious result in the west of the country and, in some places in the center, consolidating the position of the number one party on the pro-Maidan flank.
A year ago, Poroshenko seemed to be down and out. But Zelensky’s indecisive policy and constant hesitation allowed the former president to regain his strength.
By the way, a side effect of the growth of the “European Solidarity” approval rating was the disposal of smaller nationalist parties.
For example, the aforementioned “Svoboda”. If in the last election Tyagnibok‘s party was represented in local councils not only in western but also in central Ukraine, now its electorate has flowed to Poroshenko and “Svoboda” has returned to its original status as a regional party in western Ukraine.
For example, in the Lvov city council, it seems to occupy a place even lower than “Golos”. In other words, Poroshenko is really accumulating the entire ultra-right electorate – although in the previous elections he positioned himself as a centrist.
This means that the position of “European Solidarity” will “rule” further – to enter the presidential and parliamentary elections with more monolithic support from western Ukraine.
4. The triumph of local parties
Local parties – they are also called “mayors’ parties” – showed good results. The only major cities where a political force came out on top were Lvov (where “European Solidarity” won), Nikolaev (where “Opposition Platform” won) and Krivoy Rog (where “Servants of the People” is in first place).
But there are two nuances.
First, regional parties will generally not be able to form a majority in the city council and regional council on their own. They will need to work with national parties. Although there are exceptions – for example, in the Vinnytsia city council, “Groisman‘s European strategy” takes 50%.
Secondly, if we talk about the prospect of a parliamentary election, the situation is difficult for them. Because the next parliament will be elected according to the proportional system. And local elites will not be able, as before, to move their people along the majority line.
As a result, they will need to join national parties. And this will already create a base for coalition mergers – so far at the local council levels.
5. A new confrontation between the parties of peace and war
In general, the main political trend of the season is clear – the country is returning to the confrontation of two polar forces – the war party and the peace party, now represented by “European Solidarity” and “Opposition Platform”.
At the same time, we cannot say that the prospects for a “third force”, which is now represented by “Servants of the People”, are zero. Of course not. But in order to restore trust in the “Servants”, there is a need to do a lot of things and change, which is hard to believe.
“Servants” failed all the initiatives with which they tried to “sew the country together” – the end of the war, the abolition of confrontational rhetoric and the reduction of the intensity of Ukrainisation. There are no jailings. This is the reason for the election defeat.
And so far there is no reason to believe that the “Servants” made conclusions from the situation – after all, they saw falling approval ratings long before the election and did nothing to change their policy. Therefore, it is possible that the “middle” niche will be occupied by another political force with other leaders.
As for the prospects of an early parliamentary election, the local election showed that “Servants of the People” stands absolutely no chance of being “ahead of schedule”. This means that Zelensky will not agree to hold such an election under his own free will.
At the same time, the political weakness of Zelensky’s team, which manifested itself in these elections, creates a temptation for other players to organise pressure on the president to agree to the dissolution of the Rada against their own free will.
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