Kyiv, June 3, 2014. When it comes to selecting their political leaders, Ukrainians no longer seem to believe in empty promises. The latest poll data by the group Rating shows that following the Euromaidan protests, in recent Presidential, Kyiv mayoral and city council elections, Ukrainian voters have clearly expressed their will to keep authorities accountable. According to the election results, citizens of Ukraine no longer support politicians who have demonstrated poor leadership skills, and instead prefer pro-European candidates who can point to tangible accomplishments in business, politics or sports.
For the first time since Ukraine’s Independence, Ukrainians didn’t vote for the Communist Party of Ukraine in Presidential elections. The majority of the country’s population appears to be cynical and no longer blindly believe promises of any particular candidate. Since the Euromaidan protests, Ukrainians have became more active in the political sphere, and recently turned up in high numbers to vote for their new president. “The nation is being formed right now. Ukrainians have become more mature. We are being formed as citizens. People are taking responsibility for the future of their country. They do not want to relegate this job to anyone else,” said historian and member of the public sector of Euromaidan Volodymyr Viatrovych.
According to the Rating polls, the most important factors in the decision to vote for a candidate were an unblemished corruption record and the personal qualities of the politician. About 40 percent of the respondents clearly supported the arrival of new leaders in politics. Another third was more in favor than against. However, the west and north of Ukraine supported new leaders in the presidential elections more than the east and central parts of Ukraine did.
In every presidential election in Ukraine since 1994 there have been significant regional differences in voting patterns, pointing to a country split between pro-European Ukrainian-speaking citizens and pro-Russian Russian-speakers.
Petro Poroshenko is the first Ukrainian President who won a large proportion of votes in all regions of the country, – says Swiss newspaperTribune de Genève in an article titled “Poroshenko: president of national unity?”. “His victory is pure and faultless,” noted the newspaper. Presidential elections showed that Ukrainians wanted Poroshenko to be their President; more than 54 percent of votes cast for him allowed Petro Poroshenko to easily beat the second-place candidate Yulia Tymoshenko, who gathered four times fewer votes than Poroshenko – around 12 percent.
Petro Poroshenko was a minister and member of parliament in the past. He is also a successful businessman who created the popular Ukrainian chocolate brand «Roshen» and auto corporation «Bohdan». His TV «5 Channel» played a major role in providing objective, updated information during Ukraine’s Orange Revolution of 2004 as well as during the recent Euromaidan protests.
Poroshenko did not express a desire to run for president until a few months ago. However, he played a leading role in expressing the will of Ukrainians to sign the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement during negotiations with the EU in the winter and spring of 2014. And in May 2014 Ukrainians voted for him as a new force for Ukrainian unity. Once elected, President Poroshenko reiterated his wish to sign the Association Agreement, and said that he planned to do it sooner than was initially anticipated.
Notably, the Kyiv mayoral and the city council elections saw a huge number of votes cast for Vitaliy Klitschko and his party UDAR. The former heavyweight boxer Champion has brought a lot of sport victories to Ukraine, and now has won the mayoral election by receiving the support of around 56 percent of voters, putting him far ahead of all other contenders. More than 39 percent of Kyivers voted for the UDAR party, which was founded and is led by Klitschko. The second-most popular party, the Radical Party of Oleh Lyashko, gained little more than nine percent of the votes.
Interestingly, one of the most unexpected developments during the Kyiv city elections was that the successful mayor of Lviv (the number one destination in the Top 10 European Cities to See Now list in 2013), Andriy Sadoviy and his party Samopomich, became popular among the residents of Kyiv. Sadoviy, who has strong pro-European views, declined an offer to become Vice Prime Minister in the Government of Acting Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, explaining that he would rather remain the mayor of Lviv. During the crisis in Crimea, and after Russia’s annexation of the region, Sadoviy invited Crimeans who were leaving the peninsula to come to Lviv. This initiative, as well as other popular programs initiated by the Lviv mayor attracted the attention of Kyiv residents when they supported his party during the Kyiv elections with seven percent of the votes.
Ukraine’s recent presidential and local elections show that Ukrainians have clearly chosen a pro-European direction and a cadre of accomplished and prominent leaders who have a track record of success in sports, philanthropy, and statesmanship. Ukrainian citizens have cast away the Soviet legacy of relying on help from the state or from neighboring Russia. The turnout and results of the May 25th elections demonstrate that Ukrainians no longer hope for some miracle, but consider themselves responsible for their own future.