Ukrainian presidential candidates must file their official candidacy paperwork by today ahead of March’s election.
Incumbent President Petro Poroshenko is facing growing unpopularity due to surging unrest throughout the country and allegations of corruption amongst his cabinet and intelligence service. Former PM Yulia Tymoshenko is seen as the front runner in the polls at 18% in the first round, appealing to a rising populist streak in the country’s electorate over retaking Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, as well as raising salaries and pensions.
Polling done on those who already intend to vote show Tymoshenko as the clear winner in first round polling. However, populist candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy is leading in mainstream opinion polling with closer to 20%, which is more accurate at indicating the position of undecided voters. Poroshenko polls in third place behind the two frontrunners in both polls, even though he is seen as being stronger criticizing Russia, particularly following the most recent Kirch Strait incident.
Zelenskiy is expected to continue a short-term rise in support in opinion polling and among those who remain undecided. However, public favourability towards incumbent politicians should see Tymoskenko and Poroshenko remain the front runners, with incumbency valued over populism.
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Kai looks at security and political turbulence in the emerging market economies and also serves as a publisher with The Daily Brief.