In December, 2018, observers of the Civil Network OPORA have recorded the increased intensity and scale of the early campaigning coming from prospective candidates for the President of Ukraine who were included into opinion polls or independently declared their intention to run for the coming election.

Whereas in September and October, 13 candidates unfolded large scale early campaigning, as of late December, according to OPORA’s estimates, 20 prospective candidates have been doing electoral campaigning in various regions in Ukraine.

From December, 1 to December, 25, 2018, observers of the Civil Network OPORA recorded 79 regional visits of prospective Presidential candidates.

Disregarding the city of Kyiv, the place of permanent residence or work of a bigger share of prospective Presidential candidates, also Dnipropetrovsk oblast was in the focus of political leaders the most. During the reporting period, the region was visited by 7 prospective rivals for the next election of the President of Ukraine. Kyiv oblast had 5 visits, Ternopil and Kharkiv oblasts –  4, Volyn, Zhytomyr, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Poltava oblasts – 3 visits. Other regions were visited by less than 3 prospective candidates. According to provisional data from OPORA observers, the prospective candidates fully ignored Vinnytsia and Luhansk oblasts during the reporting period. 

In December, the biggest number of regions was either once or twice visited by the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, and by Oleh Liashko, head of the Olh Liashko Radical Party and member of Ukrainian Parliament. These prospective candidates visited 8 oblasts of Ukraine. Ruslan Koshulynskyi, the Head of Secretariat of the “Svoboda” VO, and Oleksandr Vilkul, the people’s deputy of Ukraine, member of “Opposition Block” faction, personally covered 7 regions each. Slightly fewer regions were covered by head of the “Hromadyanska Pozytsiya”// “Civic Position” party Anatoliy Hrytsenko (5) and the leader of “Opposition Platform – For Life” Yuriy Boyko (4). During the reporting period, head of “Batkivshchyna” VO Yuliya Tymoshenko had not had any visits to the regions, and only confined herself to running the Forum of Youth Organizations in the city of Kyiv.  It must be reminded that in September through November Yuliya Tymoshenko was one of the prospective candidates who were most active visitors in the regions for early campaigning.

In terms of scale and variety of campaigning activities, the leaders are still Petro Poroshenko, Yuliya Tymoshenko, and Oleh Liashko. Intensity of activities of Andriy Sadovyi, as compared to other prospective candidates and his key competitors, has slightly decreased in December. Particularly, in terms of using radio, television, and newspapers. Instead, Arseniy Yatseniuk who launched a full-fledged campaign in the previous month, in December consolidated his dominating presence in various segments of the early campaigning. Over this month, outdoor advertising has largely increased with the slogan “President Serves the People” associated with the art director of the Quarter 95 Studio Volodymyr Zelenskyi. As regards activities of other candidates, they are in line with the trends and dynamics of the previous period.

As to types of early campaigning, outdoor advertising still prevails (billboards, city lights). Newspapers and printed materials have been less frequently used by prospective candidates. Audiovisual media (television and radio) and the Internet have been used in full scope for early campaigning only by several prospective candidates.

The largest scale of placing political advertising on the outdoor carriers has been recorded for the following prospective candidates: Yuliya Tymoshenko (theme-based bill boards for the program of the “New Course,” “Prices for Ukrainian Produced Natural Gas Will Be Reduced Half the Size”); Petro Poroshenko (theme based bill boards “Army, Faith, Language. We Are Taking Our Road,” “Away From Moscow”); Anatoliy Hrytsenko (bill boards “Honest People Prevail”); Volodymyr Zelenskyi (theme based bill boards “Servant of the People”; they do not directly advertise the prospective candidate, but the slogan is the title of a TV series produced by Quarter 95 Studio, starring Volodymyr Zelenskyi); Andriy Sadovyi (bill boards “Advance”); Oleh Liashko (bill boards “People’s President”, “High Tariffs or High Pensions”); Arseniy Yatseniuk (theme based bill boards “We Stopped the Default in 2014”, “Energy Independence”, “Road to NATO”); Yevheniy Murayev (theme based bill boards of the “Nashi” political party). Geographically, political early campaigning on the outdoor advertising carriers is equally distributed both in oblast centers, and in smaller towns.

During the 79 regional visits of all Presidential candidates, it was recorded 20 cases of presenting products to citizens or to work teams either on their behalf or on behalf of the party, as well as cases of participation of political leaders in official presentation of goods procured for state budget funds. Most frequently, the cases were related to Oleh Liashko and Petro Poroshenko (7 and 5 cases, respectively).

According to OPORA, 67% of all activities personally conducted by the leader of party “National Front” Arseniy Yatseniuk involved public officials from authorities of different levels. In case of official work visits of the President of Ukraine, participation of the heads of oblast administrations and oblast councils, of city, village, and township heads was a general rule. At the same time, it is critical for the current President of Ukraine to clearly distinguish his official duties and electoral activities after the official start of election campaign. It would allow avoiding misuse of administrative resource during the election, and provide for compliance with the standards of competitive electoral campaigning.

Moreover, OPORA observers recorded cases of public officials attending events of Oleh Liashko and of Ruslan Koshulynskyi. Most often, those were persons holding public positions in local self-government authorities.

The segment of early campaigning in printed media is largely dominated by the publications about Petro Poroshenko (identified in big numbers in 20 regions) and Yuliya Tymoshenko (identified in big numbers in 18 regions).

In addition to Petro Poroshenko and Yuliya Tymoshenko, public events and street events with signs of early campaigning have been also actively used by Oleh Liashko, Ruslan Koshulynskyi, and Andriy Sadovyi; as well as Oleksandr Vilkul and Serhiy Taruta but in a smaller geographical scale. Also in the regions with the martial law introduced, observers recorded increasing intensity of public street events, as compared to November. The largest mass events in terms of the number of participants were conducted by Petro Poroshenko, according to observers’ estimates.

To provide for due organization of the election process, Central Election Commission adopted in December, 2018, a Calendar Schedule for Organization and Conduct of the Regular Presidential Election in Ukraine. Pursuant to the document, the electoral process shall launch on December, 31, 2018. The stage of nominating candidates for the position of the President of Ukraine shall start from day one of the electoral process and shall end 55 days before the election day (by February, 3, 2019, inclusive).  The CEC is obliged to complete the registration process for Presidential candidates before February, 8, inclusive (50 days before the election day). According to the Law of Ukraine “On Presidential Election” and the Calendar Schedule for Election, the electoral campaigning for the candidate shall start on the next day after his/her official registration, and shall finish before midnight on the last Friday before the election day. 

OPORA also requests the CEC to consider our recommendation to provide for maximum possible coverage of voters of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts to vote at the Presidential election of Ukraine, trying to avoid the unjustified decisions not to conduct election in certain territories of these regions controlled by the state. Such activities shall be based on the priority of the general suffrage in the context of legal uncertainty about taking into account the opinions of military civil administrations in the field of election.

For comments, please, contact:

Olga Aivazovska, coordinator for electoral and political programs at the Civil Network OPORA

(044) 591 44 44