Elections in Kyiv: analysis of ratings and positions of key political players in the capital


On July 14, the most authoritative sociological centre in Ukraine – Razumkov Centre presented a survey on the electoral orientations of Kyiv residents in elections of mayor of Kyiv and to the Kyiv City Council. The survey was conducted from June 20 to July 2, 2020, and its results showed the electoral picture and the real disposition of political forces in the capital.

Kyiv mayoral election. More than 43.7% of respondents are ready to vote for the current mayor Vitalii Klychko (“UDAR” party); 11% – for Andrii Palchevskyi (“VICTORY” party); and only 6.3% – for the chief sanitary doctor Viktor Liashko (“Servant of the People” party). In fact, the main struggle will unfold between these three candidates (not only for entering the second round, but also for the formation of large factions in the Kyiv City Council).

Elections of deputies of the Kyiv City Council. The electoral picture is more colourful here. 20.4% of voters are ready to vote for the party of Petro Poroshenko “European Solidarity”; 19.3% – for the presidential party “Servant of the People”; 11.5% – for the party of the mayor of Kyiv “UDAR”; 10.6% – for the “For Life” party; 7.5% – for the “Batkivshchyna” party; 6.2% – for the party of Palchevskyi “VICTORY”. The party of Smeshko balances at the level of statistical error – 5.1%. Other parties do not overcome the 5% threshold.

Analytical conclusions that can be drawn from the survey by Razumkov Centre:

  1. Kyivans will vote for a strong personality, rather than for a party brand. Therefore, at the start, the leaders of the campaign are Vitalii Klychko and Andrii Palchevskyi who have much higher personal ratings than the ratings of their political parties “UDAR” and “VICTORY”. The most rated parties “European Solidarity” and “Servant of the People” were not able to pick up a bright mayoral candidate who could show good electoral dynamics and compete with the current mayor Klychko due to the party brand. As a result, candidate Viktor Liashko from the “Servant of the People” party showed only 6.3% in the measurements (given the 19.3% party rating of the “SP” in Kyiv); and the other candidate from the party of Poroshenko – Oleksii Honcharenko completely failed having 3.2% (given the party leadership of the “ES” in Kyiv – 20.4%). If the “ES” and “SP” parties fail to nominate strong mayoral candidates, their electorate will continue to smoothly flow towards Klychko and Palchevskyi. A similar situation is observed in the “For Life” party (candidate Yevhen Chervonenko showed only 2.7%, while the party ratings make up 10.6%) and “Batkivshchyna” (candidate Vitalii Nestor has 2.1%, while the party of Yuliia Tymoshenko showed the result of 7.5% in Kyiv). Thus, a party brand will do little to help the mayoral candidate in the elections in Kyiv if he/she does not have his/her own political rating.
  2. Andrii Palchevskyi and the candidate for the “Servant of the People” will compete for entering the second round in elections. If the President’s Office would have nominated Andrii Palchevskyi as a candidate from the “Servant of the People” party, then the electoral hegemony of Vitalii Klychko in the capital could be significantly violated. Compared to other potential nominees from the “Servant of the People” – Oleksandr Tkachenko, Mykola Tyshchenko, Oleksandr Kachura, Oleksandr Dubinskyi and Viktor Liashko – Palchevskyi’s starting positions were the best. Palchevskyi has high political and media recognition, experience with the media, an understanding of how the state apparatus works, and so on. Most importantly, Palchevskyi did not appear and was not involved in scandals and internal party conflicts, or in relations with the oligarchs. For some reason, Palchevskyi and the President’s Office did not agree on cooperation and nomination. As a result, the popular TV presenter launched the “VICTORY” political project. Now, Palchevskyi is the one who will compete with the mayoral nominee from the “Servant of the People” for entering the second round, where the fight against Kliychko will unfold. Against this background, Palchevskyi and his “VICTORY” party will trample on the electoral field not only with the “Servant of the People” and “For Life”, but also with start-up projects of Sharii and Smeshko. The competition for a disappointed voter will be very strong, and Palchevskyi’s future success strategy largely depends on what team he forms, what people are on the lists of the “VICTORY” party, what resources he has, and how political opponents and authorities work against him.
  3. The situation in the presidential party “Servant of the People” in Kyiv is very difficult. The ratings processed by the Razumkov Centre show that the “Servant of the People” has problems even having a recognizable candidate. In addition, various political groups in the President’s Office are competing to nominate their own candidates. It is known that Kyrylo Tymoshenko promotes Viktor Liashko as a mayoral candidate. In turn, Liashko has low ratings due to a failure in the work to counter COVID-19. The head of the PO Andrii Yermak is still trying to promote Oleksandr Kachura who is also supported by Mykola Tyshchenko and a number of majoritarian members of the “Servant of the People”. Despite the ministerial portfolio, Oleksandr Tkachenko is still trying to gain the right to compete with the mayor Klychko. Moreover, Tkachenko’s personal ratings in Kyiv were 10 or even 15% (measurements were taken during quarantine in early March). Tkachenko enjoys the support of Kolomoiskyi and a number of metropolitan developers. Oleksandr Dubinskyi leads his own game. He will run in the mayoral election in Kyiv regardless of whether his “Servant of the People” party supports him. Another candidate is Iryna Vereshchuk who really wants to run in the election because of her personal political ambitions. Moreover, Vereshchuk is supported by pro-Russian forces and Viktor Medvedchuk, with the help of whom she received the passage seat in the list of Zelenskyi’s party. According to available information, Zelenskyi plans to approve the mayoral candidate in Kyiv from the “Servant of the People” in early August. However, it is already clear that Zelenskyi lost the battle for Kyiv, and at this stage, Klychko cannot not be defeated at all.
  4. “Pyrrhic victory” of Vitalii Klychko. Most likely, Vitalii Klychko will win the mayoral campaign in Kyiv, which will take place in two rounds. As for Vitalii Klychko, his main task is to mobilize supporters of the “European Solidarity” and “Holos” under the flag of his “UDAR” project. In other words, the mayor needs his personal ratings to tighten the “UDAR” party ratings. However, it will be very difficult for the mayor to work without the loyal majority in the Kyiv City Council. Therefore, now Klychko needs to look at the possible configurations of the future coalition and potential allies. In our opinion, Klychko has three scenarios for the development of the situation. The first option is to create a coalition together with the “Servant of the People” and give the President’s Office the key position of the Secretary of the City Council. However, such an alliance requires a third player who would have a golden share-faction. According to the ratings published by Razumkov Centre, such a force can be the “VICTORY” party of Palchevskyi, or the party of Smeshko, if it overcomes the 5% threshold and passes to the Kyiv City Council. The second option for Klychko is to leave the “Servant of the People” overboard the coalition, and form an alliance with other factions: “ES”, “Batkivshchyna”, “VICTORY”, possibly the party of Smeshko. This scenario is possible, but unlikely, due to ideological differences between potential partners. The third scenario is a high level of conflict in the Kyiv City Council, the hostility of the opposition to the mayor, which could end in a vote of no confidence and early elections in Kyiv. In addition, there is a possibility of appointing a new head of the Kyiv City Administration, who would be loyal to the President’s Office and would solve all administrative and political issues. In such a case, Klychko would be a “ceremonial bystander”, a mayor without authority and his majority in the city council.
  5. Elections in Kyiv is a political projection for all players at the national level. All major political players will try to show very good results in the elections in Kyiv, because the capital always sets political trends for the regions. Kyiv is an electoral mirror of the whole country; Kyiv has its own electoral price for each player. For Vitalii Klychko, this is a chance to stay in business and in big politics, especially with his ambitious aim to participate in the next presidential election in 2024. For the “green power”, Kyiv is valuable, since the capital is the gateway to political stability; if the authorities do not control the capital politically, then the risks of protests, revolutions and “Maidans” increase significantly. For Petro Poroshenko and his party, Kyiv is a springboard from which it will be possible to take power and get revenge in the next presidential and parliamentary elections. For the party of Yuliia Tymoshenko – Kyiv is important from the point of view of maintaining the party reputation. Faction in the capital is a matter of political prestige for Tymoshenko, especially since the capital has been considered one of the electoral outposts of the “Batkivshchyna” party at all times. For the “For Life” party, the expansion of electoral influence in Kyiv is also a party’s claim to gain power on a central scale of the country. This is a claim that the “For Life” party is not a purely regional force of the Southeast, but a force represented in the capital, which also demonstrates a request for power. For the parties of Palchevskyi, Smeshko and Sharii, the capital of Kyiv is important for a further campaign in public policy with an eye to early parliamentary elections (if they happen in the foreseeable future). It is interesting that Palchevskyi and his “VICTORY” party launched an active campaign not only in Kyiv, but also in other cities and regions. Moreover, the team of Palchevskyi works more actively than his competitors, primarily in comparison with the party of Sharii and the “Propozytsia” party. Those who manage to be successful in the local elections in Kyiv will have a good opportunity to use the podium and new resources to promote their political ideas.