Populism thrives in the run-up to Ukraine’s presidential election

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KIEV, February 18. /TASS/. The presidential election campaign that kicked off in Ukraine on December 31, 2018, has reached its halfway point. As the Election Day is nearing, the presidential hopefuls are getting increasingly sophisticated in attempts to secure the victory.

The billboards that used to advertise exotic trips and luxury cars, are now highlighting across the country the campaign pledges of social benefits, an economic breakthrough and other promises of better life. Some are promising jobs, others ‘the last chance’ or a slump in gas prices.

Most promises are pouring in from the frontrunners, Ukrainian showman Vladimir Zelensky, leader of the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) Party Yulia Timoshenko, incumbent President Pyotr Poroshenko and Yuri Boiko, leader of the Opposition Platform – for Life.

Meanwhile, most of the 44 registered candidates will be deprived of their ‘weighty say’ on radio, television and billboards as they are cash-strapped. However, they can avail in full of the opportunities offered by the social networking systems and Internet channels, that the other candidates don’t disregard eigher.

The cost of an outdoor political placement amounts to the equivalent of some $600. For a 30-second advert video on television, presidential hopefuls have to fork out an equivalent of up to $6,300.

The current election campaign has broken all records in populism. Ukrainians openly say that they don’t believe the candidates. They bring back to mind, for instance, Poroshenko’s pledges given five years ago. Among other promises, he pledged to end the war in Donbass in a matter of days, as well as to sell his business. Promises remained unfulfilled, however. Poroshenko has even had to publicly apologize for this now, as he is seeking reelection.

Maybe, this is why he is not making any pledges in the run-up to the presidential election. Instead, he reiterates that higher gas prices were a demand of foreign partners and the country cannot do otherwise it if seeks the European Union membership.

That is why the main slogan of his campaign is Ukraine’s entry into the EU and NATO. As for the social sector, he prefers speaking in broad terms about the need to do away with poverty in the country.

Meanwhile, these unrealistic pledges trigger mistrust among the population and a low voter activity.

“People don’t believe any politicians – neither the authorities, nor the opposition. They don’t believe that any of the politicians can achieve the expected changes in full,” political analyst Ruslan Bortnik says. This explains the fact that the approval rating of any Ukrainian politician does not exceed 25%, while anti-ratings exceed 50%.

According to the latest opinion polls, showman Vladimir Zelensky has the best chances of winning the presidential election. The second and third places are shared by Yulia Timoshenko and incumbent President Pyotr Poroshenko followed by Yuri Boiko, leader of the Opposition Platform – for Life, and Anatoly Gritsenko, leader of the Civil Initiative party.

Read the original article in full at TASS

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