The main players facing off in the parliamentary election campaign this autumn have begun to deploy their party structures.
Fatherland has officially announced it is teaming up with Front of Changes and its leader Yuliya Tymoshenko is reported to have personally signed the “declaration of union”. Arseniy Yatseniuk tops the combined list of MP candidates, while Oleksandr Turchynov, who is second, will manage the election campaign headquarters.
Despite earlier denials, National Security and Defence Council Secretary Andriy Kluiev will manage the Party of Regions' headquarters. This appointment essentially confirms the assumption made by The Ukrainian Week some time ago that the recent expansion of the Council’s powers may be linked to the elections. (This body may turn into a shadow campaign headquarters and a centre for coordinating administrative resources and power structures.)
Remarkably, Kluiev will have four official deputies: Serhiy Tihipko has been appointed coordinator of the public elections campaign or, simply put, its public face for interaction with voters. Borys Kolesnikov of Rinat Akhmetov’s group will be in charge of ideology. Volodymyr Rybak (evidently representing a group of “red directors” from Donetsk) will coordinate cooperation with NGOs and other political parties.
Party of Regions faction leader Oleksandr Yefremov will be responsible for VIP campaign promoters and interaction with parliament. This configuration of the Party of Regions’ campaign headquarters may hint at the Presidential Administration's misgivings about putting the entire strategy into Kluiev’s hands. Hence the need to counterbalance him with other figures. Kluiev is still playing a major role in the current government structure as can be surmised from his presence in parliament on the day the new ombudsperson was elected. Sources privy to the situation say that his personal conversations with Party of Regions MPs secured the election of Valeria Lutkovska to this office.
So far the first steps taken by the main political forces as part of their election campaigns have not produced any tangible results. According to a survey carried out by the Razumkov Centre on 14-19 April, 26.8 per cent of potential voters are ready to vote for the common list of MP candidates formed by the Fatherland party and the Front of Changes. A comparison with previous polls shows that there is no synergic effect.
The popularity rating of the Party of Regions remains virtually unchanged after it absorbed Tihipko’s Strong Ukraine and handed out another round of social populism – 23.3 per cent of Ukrainians are ready to support the white-and-blues. In other words, the Party of Regions' popularity has seen almost no change in popularity in the past several months.