Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Preparations for the election campaign

Some good analysis on how the election campaign will be waged by the main political players in Ukraine is provided by an article in 'Kommentarii'. entitled "Tymoshenko cannot find grounds for war" - the main theme of the elections will be the fight for the orange electorate.

Here are the main points:

The "Our Ukraine - People Self-defence" [NUNS] campaign will include two central themes: the cancellation of the parliamentary immunity for VR deputies, and new presidential social initiatives which include proposals to increase pensions, improve grants for higher education students, for mothers of newly-born children, and improve allowances for serving soldiers. President Yushchenko's personal image will figure more prominently than in 2006 in these initiatives. Other benefits, e.g. an increase in the median wage by 2010 and so on will also be promised.

These election pledges were originally devised not by NU spin-doctors but have been part of BYuT's political program for years. Yulia Tymoshenko's bloc attempted to push the abolishment of deputies' immunity through the VR last year. She was the first to suggest an increase in the size of aid to mothers, and it has been BYuT that has harped on about dissolution of the VR for a over a year. Yushchenko pulled the plug on the VR only when orange deputies started to defect to the PoR ruling coalition and began to pose a real threat to his presidential powers. In other words, NUNS are stealing BYuT's 'best lines'.

Both BYuT and NUNS will attack PoR for failing to deliver on their main Spring 2006 VR election campaign - "An improvement in life already today ".

"Regionaly" have the simplest task in the forthcoming elections - they have only protect last year's electoral result to ensure victory. BYuT could make some progress in Kharkiv, where leading PoR politicans Dobkin and Kernes are losing popularity over local issues, and in Dnipropetrovsk, which is beginning to feel the heat from the expansion of Donetsk businesses. A danger to PoR is that their dissillusioned supported may not turn out on election day, but any significant swing to the orange parties is unlikely.

BYuT does not have much ammuntion to attack NUNS with. There is no analogy to the 2006 gas crisis which provided BYuT an easy target in the form of Yuriy Yekhnurov, and even most of Yushchenko's discredited "lyubi druzi" have left the stage. NUNS could possibly be attacked on their flirting with PoR on the formation of a grand coalition after the elections.

Tymoshenko has recently floated the idea of a referendum on the constitution to be held in parallel with the VR elections, [an idea first promulgated by Viktor Yushchenko], and 'agitbrigady' are already swinging into action on this.

Today the initiative in the "orange" sector has been seized Viktor Yushchenko, who has now left behind a period of political depression, increased his personal rating, and is re-inspired by the prospect of re-election as president in 2009.

The September VR [re]elections are now seen by Viktor Andriyevych as an important step to achieve his central objective - a second term in office. The President will attempt to position himself to cover two eventualities and to ensure that whether NUNS forms a coalition with BYuT, or with PoR after the elections, he will still be the central candidate in the next pesidential elections.

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