The votes are still being counted for the 2015 Ukrainian Local Elections, however the early returns and exit polls indicate some surprises and likely runoffs. In addition, voting was canceled in Mariupol and Krasnoarmysk in Donetsk oblast due poor organization of the election. Under Ukraine’s new election law, runoff elections will be scheduled in cities over 90,000 populations when no mayoral candidate receives a majority during round one. Runoffs will take place on November 15th.
Here’s the latest updates on elections in Ukraine’s five largest cities holding elections:
1. Kyiv – As expected, Solidarity’s Vitaly Klitchko is leading decisively in the capital but is short of a majority. In addition, there is a tight race for second place among Samopomich candidate Serhiy Gusovskiy, independent MP Boryslav Bereza, Motherland’s Volodymyr Bondarenko and former Mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko. All four candidates are within two percent of each as the votes are counted. “The Shuster Live” exit poll showed Klitchko at 38% and Gusovskiy at nine percent, with Bereza and Bondarenko less than one percent behind. Regardless of which candidate squares off against Klitchko in the runoff, the former boxer turned politician is a clear favorite for re-election.
2. Odesa – While the voting process around the country was mostly comparable on par with last year’s Parliamentary election in terms of fairness, the Odesa election was particularly problematic with observers reporting carousel voting, multiple voting lists, exit poll workers agitating for candidates and another suspiciously slow vote count. As expected incumbent Mayor Gennadiy Trukhanov is leading the vote and exit polls with around 47%. However many local observers believe that when the votes are finally counted, Trukhanov may end up as a first round winner. Governor Saakashvili’s candidate, Sasha Borovik is in second place with around 30% according to the exit polls with former Mayor Eduard Hurvits trailing in third place. Interestingly MP Serhiy Kivalov is pulling around four percent which is preventing Trukhanov from a first round victory – at least at the moment. Borovik’s late surge into second place is clearly due to Saakashvili’s popularity in Odesa, but it may not be enough to force a runoff.
3. Kharkiv – In Ukraine’s first capital of Kharkiv, incumbent Mayor Gennadiy Kernes obliterated all opponents by scoring close to 60% of the vote according to exit polls and early returns. In addition, Kernes association with oligarch Igor Kolomoyskyi’s Renaissance Party appears to have given the party an outright majority on the city council as well. Kernes’s nearest opponent is Taras Sytenko with Samopomich. Sytenko performed better than expected and surpassed former Deputy Govenor Yuri Sapronov as well as Solidarity’s Oleksandr Davytyan –both of whom were expected to perform better than the six and five percent respectively that early returns show.
4. Lviv – As anticipated, Samopomich’s Andriy Sadoviy is the clear leader according to exit polls and early returns in Lviv. The “Shuster Live” exit poll put Sadoviy within 1.5% of a majority. Since that result is within the margin of error, a first round victory for Sadoviy is still a possibility. If a runoff takes place, Sadovity will square off against former Speaker Ruslan Koshulynskiy with Svoboda Party. Sadoviy and Svoboda have been long rivals in Lviv so a runoff will add some intrigue to this longstanding clash. Koshulynskiy is averaging about 14% of the vote with Civic Position’s (Anatoliy Hritsenko’s party) Volodymyr Hirnyak trailing in third place with 12%. Poroshenko’s two candidates, Yuri Dobrodomov and Oksana Yurinets split their votes and now neither appears to be in the runoff. With or without a runoff though, Sadoviy is likely to win a third term as Lviv Mayor.
5. Dnipropetrovsk – Ukrop Party candidate Borys Filatov performed better than expected and is leading the Opposition Bloc’s Oleksandr Vilkul according to early returns and exit polls. Polls prior to Election Day showed both candidates running neck and neck. However Filatov is leading Vilkul by 42-32% in early results. With control of the administrative resources by Kolomoyskyi’s allies as well as Filatov’s surprisingly strong results in round one, the race is now a tossup in the runoff. A victory by Filatov in Dnipropetrovsk combined with Kernes victory in Kharkiv and Trukhanov’s likely victory in Odesa, will give the oligarch control of the mayor’s office of the three largest cities outside Kyiv, as well as bragging rights in his ongoing war with President Poroshenko.