December 19, 2018

Elections 2019

The country has entered the electoral campaign with obvious peculiarities and trends. Most likely, these elections will have the largest number of candidates, there will be the greatest technological challenges and the most volatile external factors in their conduct.

Since there are so many candidates, it is worth dividing them into major groups and tracking their main consistent patterns and trends. That is, to classify certain “roles” on the successful playing which depends the victory. Among such groups (roles) it is expedient to allocate:

A government-favoured candidate and the “party of power”

Now represented by Petro Poroshenko and the political bloc of the same name. The “party of power” should be considered more broadly than the formal BPP, taking into account the forces and individual players that are controlled by Poroshenko, those who are situational political partners, regional “heavyweights”, or business partners. This, in turn, forms a political force far more powerful than sociology demonstrates at first glance.

Strengths — a powerful financial and administrative resource, the greatest technological impact on the districts and the Central Election Commission.

Limitations — significant anti-rating, unfulfilled election promises, toxic partners and corruption.

Trend — strengthening of administrative resources, manipulation in the electoral districts and great attention to the creation of a favorable external situation and using it in the domestic political struggle.

  • Conditional opposition (conditional, because, in fact, there is no political opposition in Ukraine, but there are organized groups that compete for control over the flows currently controlled by the government)

Now represented by Yulia Tymoshenko and the “Batkivshchyna” (“Mothereland”) Party. Hypothetically, the “Front for Change” can claim this niche, but now it is more of a potential “donor” of people and resources for the BPP and “Batkivshchyna”.

Strengths — a good position for objective criticism of the government, some stable electoral support. Strong motivation to win and regain access to redistribution of flows. Personnel, sufficiently competent in the “schemes”, to fill in the main government positions with her own people. Available resources, but smaller than those of the authorities.

Limitations — a high anti-ratings, unfulfilled election promises, toxic partners and corruption.

Trend — more populism, unscrupulousness and more promises of everything to all, more cooperation with toxic partners in order to involve additional resources.

  • Candidate of Popular Trust — (Poroshenko was such a candidate at the latest election, but now this role is not available to him)

Now presented by Anatoliy Hrytsenko, but many other candidates claim this role. Potentially, a single candidate from nationalistic forces could claim this role, but due to internal intrigues, there is no such candidate. Oleksandr Shevchenko has some potential and resources, but so far he simply criticizes the government, and does not show the basis for cooperation.

Strengths — sincere confidence implies more emotional than rational support and a certain leniency of voters for the candidate.

Limitations — the need to negotiate for the sake of resources, and the need to compensate for personnel hunger with cooperation with dubious partners.

Trend — a strong internal struggle in “the group”. The more supporters Hrytsenko attracts, the stronger his position will be. This is confirmed by Hrytsenko's uniting with Chumak, which has significantly strengthened both forces in parliamentary elections, and the example of Viktor Chumak's sacrifying his own presidential ambitions may inspire other candidates who have the potential to create a promising political platform.

  • Main Collaborator

Now represented by Yuriy Boyko. Oleksandr Vilkul and Yevhen Murayev are actively claiming this role. Who will be the real leader of the collaborators — depends on Russia, which most likely has not yet decided definitively on the main pro-Russian candidate.

Strengths — comfortable sparring-partner for the authorities, and for the mutual mobilization of their own electorate from each side, a large resource base with Russia's support, has its own stable electorate.

Limitations — significant anti-rating and frank collaboration during the war.

Trend — the internal competition for the electorate and Russian money will encourage the increasingly open pro-Russian and anti-Ukrainian “quasi-peaceful” positions, in which the true leader of the collaboration with the enemy discloses himself.

  • “Swamp” (conditional alliance of the majority of candidates)

Most of them have no Strengths and Limitations and actually do not matter due to the lack of resources, teams, political positions, ideas and electoral support. Among the candidates we see a gray mass of mediocre people who have nothing to do with their ambitions and have the expectations of simple and quick victories without any effort. In the “Swamp” is noticeable a group of political “freaks” such as Lyashko and Kiva, whose activities are an example of the profanation of political processes in Ukraine. Zelenskyi and Vakarchuk will be in the same position if they participate in the election campaign.

Trend — to an increase in the number of the participants of the “Swamp”.

It should be noted that all candidates and political forces will, without exception, face the objective realities of the forthcoming election campaign, namely:

Technological Challenges

  • The need to maintain the headquarters for both presidential and parliamentary elections, which means maintaining the headquarters for 10 months, with the fact that, as a rule, political forces in Ukraine are oriented towards the shortest possible campaign and are not ready for a long game. 10 months for most is too much, which will inevitably lead to technological mistakes, internal conflicts between the central headquarters and local teams and ineffective management, especially during the presidential campaign.
  • Unequal representation of political forces in the electoral districts. Only BPP and “Batkivshchyna” have a chance to overcome this challenge, others will most likely not have a 100 % coverage of the districts, or will have partial coverage with very weak representatives, or very strong positions only in certain regions. This situation will be used effectively by local authorities, influencing the “power landscape” regardless of umbrella brands. This often leads to a paradoxical situation in which representations of political forces, conflicting at the central level, are held by the same people for the fullest control of the districts and the deployed networks for buying votes.
  • Personnel hunger — a critical shortage of professionals for staffing the headquarters, both at the central level and even more relevant at the district level.
  • Central headquarters' dependence on majoritarian or “controllers of regions”, both in resources and in the implementation of headquarters' decisions and strategies.
  • Mass-scale stakes of all major players on the network for buying votes, that is, we have all chances to repeat the disgraceful history of Chernihiv (District 205), only across the whole country.
  • Monopolization of the media, that is, a clearly seen limited access of candidates to the media at all levels, from the central to the local.
  • The low role of the Internet — the influence of the Internet and social networks on the election results is still very weak in Ukraine (the Internet audience traditionally does not come to polling stations), so modern technological approaches, such as the work of the Trump’s team in social networks, are unlikely to have a significant effect on election results.
  • A potentially low turnout (maybe even less than 50 %), which makes buying voices technologically viable.
  • “Blur” of votes, that is, a large number of candidates, which prevents all candidates from gaining a large number of votes. This means that into the second round can pass the candidate with a result of 15–20 %, or even less.
  • Technological participants who do not expect victory, but will lead anti-companies against potential leaders.

Situational Challenges

  • Changes in the situation after the first round and the second round of presidential elections. That is, any political force whose candidate wins, will undergo three stages of internal reformatting.
  • The war will be a constant newsmaker, background and supplier of unpredictable situations.
  • Domestic socio-economic, ethnic and religious factors.
  • Strong external influences.
  • Difficult situation in some regions of the country.
  • The agreement of all with all against all, that cannot be realized in reality, distorts the planning of the activities of political forces and leads to misunderstanding of the current situation.

Resource Challenges

  • The time of personnel maintenance (10 months) increases the cost of the team almost three times, and to play long and to the end, one needs to have a stock of resources which most candidates do not have. Moreover, opponents can easily increase the “amount involved” in the course of the campaign.

To be continued…