Record number of candidates put names forward for Ukraine presidential vote

Record number of candidates put names forward for Ukraine presidential vote 

People pass by the advertising of presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko on tents in Kiev, Ukraine, Feb. 9, 2019. EPA-EFE/SERGEY DOLZHENKO

Kiev, Feb 9 (efe-epa).- The election campaign in Ukraine was already heating up with no fewer than 44 candidates registering their intention to run for office so far.

The lead-up to the vote, which is slated to take place on Mar. 31, has been marked by promises of economic revival, surprise candidates and a notable lack of hope among the electorate.

Ukraine’s electoral commission on Friday confirmed a record number of names of those who will vie for votes although realistically the choice looks to be between the current president, Petro Poroshenko; former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko; actor, Vladimir Zelensky and pro-Russian candidate, Yuriy Boyko.

According to recent polling, as much as 20 percent of the electorate remains undecided, raising chances that the presidential elections will head to a second round of voting in April.

Zelensky is no doubt the surprise candidate in the campaign and has recently overtaken both Tymoshenko and Poroshenko in the polls with an estimated 19 percent of the overall vote, compared to the latter two’s 18 and 15 percent respectively. Boyko was lodging predictions of 10 percent.

Some 36 million voters are called to the polls five years after the Euromaidan revolution, which in 2014 ousted the former Russophile president Viktor Yanukovich and preceded Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and the pro-Russian uprising in eastern Ukraine, which boiled over into a civil war that has killed more than 10,000.

The pro-European revolution instilled a sense of national unity in the country but nowadays many feel aggrieved at what they see as a lack of palpable changes and ongoing corruption.

«I’m very skeptical about the elections,» said Katerina, a 38-year-old teacher. «I think the older generation of politicians will not make way for the new generations,» she added.

Poroshenko has pledged to improve the country’s economic outlook and sees a future closer to the European Union and NATO, something he shares with his would-be usurpers.

Tymoshenko seeks to raise the minimum wage to that of the eastern European nation’s neighbors, such as Poland, where workers earn 3.5 times more on average.

All three leading candidates have campaign promises with regards to Russia, insisting that the self-declared republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in the east, as well as Crimea, are brought back under Kiev’s control.

Poroshenko has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty.

The ongoing war in the Donbass has been a persistent feature of his time in office.

By Nadjejda Vicente