Ruslan Bortnik: The Main Intrigues of the 2019 Presidential Elections in Ukraine

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


The risks and trends of the new political season are connected to the future presidential elections. The political scientist Ruslan Bortnik commented to “Glavnovosti” about this.

“Poroshenko, Gritsenko, Zelensky, Vakarchuk — they are all looking for support in the American establishment. This is a key intrigue,” said Bortnik.

“The key fight will be around the agenda of elections. It is already obvious that the authorities try to concentrate their agenda on the humanitarian perspective – the church, language, history, accession to NATO and the EU, and questions of European integration. The opposition will try to ground the authorities and speak about real problems, about peace and the war in Donbass, they will speak about corruption and increasing the welfare of Ukrainians in different aspects, starting with a reduction in tariffs and finishing with combatting inflation. The outcome of the election will depend on who will win the agenda,” explained the political scientist.

“To some extent the unions that will be created in this electoral campaign will also be intriguing. The problem will be within the authorities – who will become the sole candidate, or whether there will even be be a sole candidate. Today Petro Poroshenko lays claim to this role, but it seems to me that Groisman’s union and ‘People’s Front‘ makes it possible to nominate the Prime Minister for this role. For many elites Groisman potentially looks more successful,” added Bortnik.

According to him, the problem of nominating a sole candidate from the government will in parallel be accompanied by the preparation of a list for parliamentary elections and  the need to resolve sensitive personnel issues that have accumulated in the coalition.

“If the ‘Bloc of Petro Poroshenko’ and ‘People’s Front’ don’t reach a compromise and find a balance, then the probability is rather high that there will be several candidates from the government. The second question is who Yulia Tymoshenko will create alliances with. She needs to make alliances in order to access social groups that aren’t guided by her, Tymoshenko has a disapproval rating of 57%. These alliances will also give possibilities to defend the results of elections by force. That’s why the alliances between Tymoshenko and Avakov, other groups of ‘People’s Front’, Nalyvaichenko, Gritsenko, Taruta, and other people are possible,” said the expert.

Bortnik also didn’t exclude that there can be an alliance between Tymoshenko and Svobodaor other right-wing parties.

“The third intrigue will be how many candidates will be proposed by the former regionals and who they will be, and will Rabinovich enter the elections or will there be several candidates from his ‘For Life’ party. How many candidates from the ‘Opposition Bloc‘ will there be? 1 or 3, 5 or 7?” added Bortnik.

“If there is only one candidate from the ‘Opposition Bloc’, I estimate the probability of it qualifying for the second round [of elections – ed] at 60%. If there are two or more, then most likely this party will break up prior to parliamentary elections,” stressed the political scientist.

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