Ukraine election commission releases list of confirmed presidential candidates

Today is the deadline for Ukraine’s Electoral Commission to release the list of confirmed candidates for March 31’s presidential election.

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Photo: Reuters

Today is the deadline for Ukraine’s Electoral Commission to release the list of confirmed candidates for March 31’s presidential election.

With 83 candidates having filed, this will be the largest field in the country’s history even though many applications will be rejected. There are three clear leading candidates: incumbent Petro Poroshenko, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Corruption has emerged as a central issue leading up to the campaign; Ukraine ranks 120 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, the lowest rating in Europe. The issue has driven Zelenskiy—famous for playing a populist president on TV—to the front of the polls with promises to stamp out corruption and circumvent politicians by increasing the number of referendums.

With seven weeks to go, the election remains fluid. None of the leading candidates have managed much above 20% in polling. The almost certain April 21 runoff will likely feature two of the three. If Zelenskiy continues to rise—and he may get a boost from his show’s new season, which is expected to be on air soon—his manifesto-less campaign and promise of direct democracy could upend the status quo. This would thrust issues like corruption and the conflict in the country’s east into the hands of voters with referendums on a range of issues, including Russian relations.

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