Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Presidential election in Ukraine: Five reasons Zelenskiy is likely to win the second ballot

April 17, 2019 ( There is less than a week left until the next and decisive second round of elections which will determine the future president of Ukraine. However, the already available results of the first round of voting, as well as some additional sociological data, give a good reason to assume that the winner of the first ballot – Volodymyr Zelenskiy – will be able to confirm the winning result also in the second round.
Mobile ballot box in the 2019 Ukrainian presidential elections 

There are at least 5 key reasons which could provide for the respective result of the presidential election in Ukraine.
Firstly, the margin of victory of the first-round winner Volodymyr Zelenskiy (30.24 per cent) over his rival Petro Poroshenko (15.95 per cent) is quite noticeable – more than 14 per cent – and can hardly be bridged in the remaining few days before the final voting on April 21st. A comparable gap between the two main contenders of the first round happened only during the presidential elections in Ukraine of 1999, when then-incumbent President Leonid Kuchma confidently defeated the leader of the Communist Party Petro Symonenko, both in the first and in the second round. The only case in the contemporary history of Ukraine, when the second-placed candidate of the first round was able to win the presidency during the final vote, was the election of 1994. But the margin of victory in the first round during that election was only half of what it is now between Zelenskiy and Poroshenko.
Secondly, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, according to the pre-election opinion polls, was consistently in the lead in the rating of the “second choice” candidates for Ukrainian voters. Some 8.1 per cent of respondents claimed that they would support his candidacy, if their preferred candidate (“first choice”) does not partake in the election. At the same time, the candidacy of Petro Poroshenko would be preferred as a “second choice” by no more than 3 per cent.
Thirdly, the very logic of Ukrainians’ voting in the second round rather “against” a certain candidate than “for” somebody might play in favor of the candidate Zelenskiy. This logic, also known as the principle of voting for the “lesser evil”, can by itself mobilise quite many voters against a candidate with high disapproval-ratings to prevent him from winning the presidential election. In this paradigm of electoral behavior, the incumbent President Poroshenko has a clearly losing position. The latter, as the most recent opinion polls show, is among the politicians with the highest level of public distrust (69 per cent do not trust him). Besides, virtually half of voters in Ukraine (49.6 per cent) will under no circumstances vote for him, which also significantly limits the potential for him to expand his support base. On the contrary, at least some 43 per cent of Ukrainians claim to trustcandidate Zelenskiy and only 13.3 per cent of voters are definitely not ready to vote for him.
Fourthly, the candidate Zelenskiy has a significantly more uniform geography of electoral support. If Poroshenko managed to come first only in two regions (oblasts) of Western Ukraine (Lviv and Ternopil oblasts), Zelensky gained majority of votes in almost all major macro-regions of Ukraine, with the exception of the regions of Donbas (where he came second) and Halychyna. With such a comprehensive geography of electoral support, Zelensky’s position seems to be much closer to Ukraine’s “middle voter” than that of his rival Poroshenko. It is precisely the proximity of the politician to the “middle voter” position that can predetermine the possibility of obtaining a majority vote during the elections.
Last but not least, the  above mentioned arguments are well reinforced by the results of the latest post-election public opinion poll which clearly shows the continuing and even somewhat increasing lead of the candidate Zelenskiy over his main contender Petro Poroshenko. 71,4 per cent of the respondents (who are planning to attend election on April 21 and decided upon their choice), according to the poll, will support Zelenskiy while Poroshenko is supported by only 28.6 per cent of voters respectively.