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Union of democratic candidates may change balance of forces during Ukraine’s presidential election

It appears a single candidate from the democratic forces for Ukraine’s presidential election has arrived as Andriy Sadovyi (left) and Dmytro Hnap (right) withdrew in favor of Anatoliy Hrytsenko (center). Photo:
Union of democratic candidates may change balance of forces during Ukraine’s presidential election
A few months before the presidential campaign started in Ukraine, civil society demanded a single candidate from democratic forces. Several candidates have been suggested for the role, including the famous frontman of the Okean Elzy rock-band Sviatoslav Vakarchuk. Nevertheless, the idea did not proceed and Ukraine entered the election campaign period with an all-time record of 44 candidates on the list. Things changed on 1 March when two candidates finally agreed to support Anatoliy Hrytsenko. Now, the candidate indeed has better chances, as well as there is a chance for changing the balance of forces.

On March 1, Andriy Sadovyi, mayor of Lviv and leader of the Samopomich party, withdrew his candidacy for president in favor of Anatoliy Hrytsenko, the leader of the Hromadianska Pozitsiya party.

Right now, we have a chance to choose a Ukrainian president who is against corruption. I am sure that this decision will influence the voting process and will gain victory for one united candidate from the democratic forces,” Sadovyi said at a briefing with his wife by his side.

Anatoliy Hrytsenko thanked him immediately on Facebook:

It’s a victorious decision. Together we will change the country and give Ukrainians a positive perspective.”

The possibility that Sadovyi and Hrytsenko will unite forces to give one candidate from the democratic opposition was on the table before the election campaign started. In January, Sadovyi announced the possibility of unification of the Samopomich and the Hromadianska Pozytsiya parties for the parliament election, which will be held in Ukraine 6 months after the presidential one. But until now two headquarters couldn’t decide who should actually withdraw.

The latest poll published on 25 February by the Kyiv International Sociology Institute ranked Hrytsenko at a better position than Sadovyi, but both of them were not among the three leaders. Anatoliy Hrytsenko is ranked as fourth or fifth, supported by 6.4% of those who have decided on their candidate. Andriy Sadovyi is ranked seventh, with 1.4% in one poll and 2.4% in the other.

Actor Volodymyr Zelenskyy (26.4%), President Petro Poroshenko (18%), leader of Batkivshchyna party Tymoshenko (13.8%), and pro-Russian candidate Yuriy Boyko (10.9%) were ahead of Hrytsenko.

Civil society had long demanded the nomination of a single candidate from the democratic opposition for the presidential election.

In the recent poll published by the Social Monitoring Center on 27 February, 50.9% of respondents believed that there should be a single candidate. 15.6% said they will support Hrytsenko in case Sadovyi and Hrytsenko unite forces.

According to the poll published by Kyiv International Institute of sociology in November 2018, Hrytsenko wins over Petro Poroshenko, Yuliya Tymoshenko, and Yuriy Boiko in the possible second round.

Hours after Sadovyi’s announcement, another candidate, former journalist Dmytro Hnap said he is withdrawing in favor of Hrytsenko as well. This decision was approved at a meeting of his party Syla Liudei on 2 March. Despite Hnap’s popularity ranking below 1%, he collected a pledge of UAH 2.5mn from ordinary people’s donations. It is the first example of a fundraising company at Ukrainian elections and a good attempt to overcome oligarchic “black cash” in Ukrainian politics.

The Leaders of the Interfactional Union “Eurooptimists” Svitlana Zalishchuk and Mustafa Nayyem also declared that they are going to support Anatoliy Hrytsenko at the presidential election and to join his team “voluntarily.” Nayem and Zalishchuk are former media activists who became MPs as members of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc.

Hrytsenko has already run for president twice. In 2010, he got only 1.2% of votes. He did better in 2014, winning 5% and the fourth place, behind Poroshenko, Tymoshenko, and the Radical Party leader Oleh Liashko.

He does is not a new person in Ukrainian politics. He served as Defense Minister in 2005-2007. After his work in the Government, Hrytsenko was twice elected to the Parliament – the first time as a member of the ex-President Viktor Yushchenko’s Nasha Ukraina and the second within Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna political parties. Both times he was in fifth place on the party lists. He was the Head of the National Security and Defense Committee in the Parliament for five years.

At the same briefing speech, Andriy Sadovyi declared that the Samopomich party will take part in the next parliamentary elections in October 2019.

Sofia Kochmar-Tymoshenko is a journalist based in Kyiv. In 2014, Sofia started working as a TV-journalist and fixer for international media. Her professional interest is religious freedom and human rights.


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