- Poll of Polls: Ukraine finally improved its’ election laws to allow polls to be published up to 2 days before an election (previously it was 2 weeks) and the numbers are in. The polls continue to confirm a decisive Poroshenko victory in the first round. The average of four publicly released polls over the last 30 days show Poroshenko winning 48-13% over Tymoshenko. However when one suspicious poll from an obscure polling firm known as Sociopolis is removed from the mix, Poroshenko wins 52-11%. The Sociopolis numbers were released this week showing Tymoshenko still within striking distance of forcing a runoff and trailing just 28-18%. Besides the fact that the poll does not include any data for Donetsk and Luhansk which automatically skews the results, the poll is clear outlier. As previously predicted, Tyhypko is starting to rise as he (and not Dobkin) is picking up votes in the east and south. He has risen to 8% in the polls and trails Tymoshenko by just 2.8%. There is a small chance that Tyhypko could edge Tymoshenko to finish second in the polls based on historical voting trends in Ukraine and its’ substantive pro-Russian electorate. Given the fact that Dobkin simply hasn’t connected with the traditional Party of Regions voters and perennial loser Petro Symonenko (Communist) has dropped out of the race, Tyhypko is the one candidate besides Poroshenko who has some momentum. Also keep an eye on Anatolyi Hritsenko and Oleg Lyashko who have risen to 6.1% and 5.5% respectively in the polls. Both will be well positioned for the parliamentary election tentatively planned this autumn. Olha Bogomolets however, has seen his support fall from 4.1% at the start of the campaign to 2.6% now. Her political future does not look optimistic –unlike that of Hritsenko and Lyashko.
- Election Day: Russia will criticize the election but ultimately accept the results. Russian separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk will disrupt voting and prevent the process in many polling stations in those regions (anywhere from 10-50%). Nonetheless, the train has left the station and barring nuclear war in the next 100 hours, this election is going forward and will be recognized. Putin used the separatists for his public relations purposes and now has pulled the rug out from under them by not moving to annex Donetsk and Luhansk after the illegitimate “referendums” on May 11. Expect the separatists to either be killed off in anti-terrorism operations or slip away into Russia overnight after May 25.
- Kyiv Mayoral Election: as predicted on May 10th, expect Klitchko to win with a majority of the votes and his party (in coalition with Poroshenko) to form the new majority on the Kyiv city council following the election.
- Cherkasy Mayoral Election: expect businessman Sergiy Odarych to win the election by at least 10% over his nearest rival. Odarych was forced out of office a year by oligarch Dmitro Firtash after Odarych dared to attempt to get Firtash to pay a portion of the taxes on his businesses in the region to improve the roads and infrastructure which the businesses benefit from. Immediately after this, a lobbying campaign (read: purchasing of votes for $20,000 each) of city council members in Cherkasy was started and the council voted by exactly a 2:1 margin to impeach Odarych. However, Ukrainian law allows the Mayor to vote in cases where his vote would make a difference and Odarych voted no to kill the motion (making it one vote short of 2/3rds). A kangaroo court in Cherkasy disregarded the law and ousted Odarych anyway. To add insult to injury, trumped up criminal cases were opened against Odarych over the firing of city employees half a decade earlier. Now that Yanukovych is gone though, there is a place for independent mayors in Ukraine and while the frivolous criminal case has not yet been dismissed, expect Odarych to triumphantly return to his job as Mayor of Cherkasy on May 25.
- Odesa Mayoral Election: On May 10th, I rated this race as a toss-up and too close to call. Former Mayor Hurvits has a solid base of support and would win in a fair election –but elections in Odesa are historically amongst the dirtiest in the country and rarely are fair. MP Gennadiy Trukhanov (Economic Development faction in Parliament and former Regions) has run an aggressive retail campaign and has some momentum. The May 2nd deaths of almost 50 persons is also a factor in the race and yesterday Interior Minister Arsen Avakov accused Hurvits’ supporters of being part of the clash. This has more to do with settling old political scores than reality though as Avakov is a Tymoshenko ally and Tymoshenko has long sought to oust the independent minded Hurvits from Odesa. Hurvits has spoken out against Byut in the past and now Tymoshenko is making one final attempt to defeat Hurvits both by having Avakov make the charges as well as by running a technical candidate from Byut to siphon votes away from Hurvits (as the pro-European votes in Odesa are quite limited). These charges come after allegations a day earlier that Trukhanov holds a Russian passport. Ukrainian law prohibits dual citizenship and if proven to be true, this would likely invalidate any potential Trukhanov victory. Suffice to say, this race will NOT be decided on May 25 but more likely in the courts over the days and weeks to follow. The fact is court cases after the Odesa election are the norm and this election is likely to be no different.
Table: Eduard Hurvits & Odesa Mayoral Elections & Court Decision Results: