Ukraine before the presidential election: early campaigning and administrative resources
Potential candidates choose to visit the following oblasts the most often: Cherkasy, Kirovohrad, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Odesa oblasts. At the same time, the least popular are Sumy, Mykolaiv, Luhansk, and Zakarpattia oblasts. Among over 70 VIP campaigners, we recorded 28 MPs, a writer, a singer, and an ex-President of Ukraine. This information was presented by the experts of Civil Network OPORA on 31 October conference.
Similarly to previous years, OPORA gives an assessment to preparations before the official campaign and monitors the means and peculiarities of early election campaigns conducted by potential candidates for the President of Ukraine. Thus, long-term observers were deployed to each region of Ukraine already on 1 October, and have reported wide-scale public activities organised by potential candidates, which has features of campaigning.
According to Civil Network OPORA’s Analyst Oleksandr Kliuzhev, political actors organise wide-scale public activities, which has features of campaigning. “According to the law framework, campaigning exists only during the election process and begins with registration of a candidate by the CEC. It includes any activities, aimed to urge the electorate to vote or not to vote for a certain candidate. In reality, potential electoral subjects organise campaigning events, place and disseminate campaigning materials long time before the official start of the campaign. By doing so, they escape any oversight of whether they act in line with legislative requirements on election campaigning and its financing. As of the end of October, OPORA’s observers detect public activities of potential electoral subjects in all regions of Ukraine,” – he emphasised.
In September – October, the following four potential candidates for the President of Ukraine conducted the most systematic and wide-scale campaigning: Yuliia Tymoshenko, Petro Poroshenko, Andrii Sadovyi and Oleh Liashko. They simultaneously used various forms of public activities (public events and speeches, outdoor and media advertising), covering most of Ukrainian oblasts.
“Oleh Liashko visited oblasts the most often. Thus, his events covered 13 oblasts of Ukraine, he made 16 separate visits, visited 27 settlements and held 44 thematic events. Some of the regions, where potential candidates expect to be especially popular among the electorate, they visited more than once. For example, Yuliia Tymoshenko visited Dnipropetrovsk oblast twice, Oleh Tiahnybok visited twice Ivano-Frankivsk oblast. Oleh Liashko and Petro Poroshenko also visited twice different regions of Chernihiv oblast and Lviv oblast respectively,” – told the expert.
Cherkasy oblast was visited by the biggest number of potential candidates (8 persons: Oleh Liashko, Oleh Tiahnybok, Roman Bezsmertnyi, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, Anatolii Hrytsenko, Andrii Sadovyi, Serhii Taruta and Yurii Derevianko). Kirovohrad, Ivano-Frankivsk and Odesa oblasts are also popular locations. At the same time, the least popular are Sumy, Mykolaiv, Luhansk, and Zakarpattia oblasts.
According to Oleksandr Kliuzhev, mass media representatives, party members and activists of political and civic structures were the target audience of potential candidates. At the same time, the politicians usually organised events for students, the youth, servicemen, and employees of educational and healthcare institutions. The most popular types of events were the following: press-conferences, meetings with labour groups (educational, health care, industrial, agrarian sectors) and outdoor events (meetings with the voters). Some candidates stuck to specially developed formats of events, like primaries or discussion forums.
Besides potential candidates for the President, there are so-called VIP campaigners, who are also involved in early campaigning through public activities for the benefit or in the interest of a certain candidate. Observers of the Civil Network OPORA are analysing activities of such individuals, there status and forms of support they offer to potential candidates.
In September – October, OPORA detected over 70 individuals, who have been involved once or a few times in campaigns of potential candidates. The majority of them belong to Members of Parliament – 28 persons. As for celebrities, writer Vasyl Shkliar participated in an event in support of Oleksand Shevchenko, and singer Oleksandr Ponomarov – in support of Yulia Tymoshenko. The first President of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk participated in a public event in Lviv, where he spoke in support of Yuliia Tymoshenko.
Besides that, there is a disturbing trend, which brings a hazard of misuse of administrative resources, in activities of some heads of oblast state administrations, who start to act as campaigners of potential candidates. For example, heads of Dnipropetrovsk OSA Valentyn Reznichenko, Zhytomyr OSA Ihor Hundych, Mykolaiv OSA Oleksii Savchenko, act against the principle of political impartiality by making public statements in support of potential candidate Petro Poroshenko, and joining events dedicated to the opening of infrastructure objects.
“Taking into consideration the experience of previous campaigns, state officials should demarcate their activities in the office and campaigning efforts once the election process officially starts. This is a law requirement, which facilitates the competitiveness of an election process, and prevents misuse of administrative resources,” – Oleksandr Kliuzhev emphasised.