Nine reasons of Poroshenko’s defeat in this presidential election and what should he do now
TV channels owned by oligarchs, low quality journalist investigations and non-stop Russian propaganda sank Poroshenko. However, for the whole five years of his presidency his own style reminded the one of soviet-style president Kuchma, just slightly modernized and more efficient. Ukrainian version here
Author: Roman Kulchynsky, editor-in-chief Texty.org.ua
Journalists were crying at Poroshenko’s final press conference when the exit polls discovered the fact of his defeat. These are the lyrics. The fact is that over 70% of people consume the information on current events from TV. At the same time, most of TV channels belong to oligarchs and there was a tacit ban on positive coverage of reforms and other changes going on in the country in recent years.
The official reasons could have varied from “there is no human story in this piece of news” to “this story does not fit the TV, we need to care about our ratings” to “it is not a newsbreak”. In other case, they were sending a journalist with bias against certain Minister and her or his reforms to the press conference of this Minister.
There were cases when journalists had to get approval of their materials dedicated to some ordinary reform’s stage or aspect, (such as judicial reforms that, though rather slowly, but goes on). In such case, the journalists edited their materials together with news chief editor, and he or she, in its turn, with a great deal of probability coordinated this process with the channel owner.
At one “plus another one” channel the journalists openly reported about the direct ban on any positive context when covering the activities of any branch of Ukrainian authority. So what do channels demonstrate then? “Pauperization” (a word that became half-comic meme in Ukrainian context) and “people are whining”: dozens of newly built houses stay empty in Kyiv because everybody has gone to work abroad, while retired lady had died after receiving her gas bills – those were the news about country and people.
In addition, the authorities were engaged in total, everlasting corruption and scandals context. The political talk shows were also full of toxic and often fake speech, but here they aimed precisely to Poroshenko. Sometimes Poroshenko would have appeared in the news, but most of them were made in a semiofficial style and were dedicated to his official position. Such news is like Internet banners – no one usually notices and clicks on them.
Starting approximately from 2016 some part of independent journalists defined Poroshenko as an enemy and viewed their mission as to get rid of him at any cost. Who will become the next president in case they succeed – this progressive part of journalist community held no answer or they simply did not care about such issues.
The authorities are being accused now of their poor communication and lack of explanations about the meaning of the reforms and why are they carried out. It is partially so, the explanation was insufficient.
However, none of the previous governments and authorities was as open as the current one these days. The press could easily reach the key speakers and officials, as well as ordinary performers, engaged in implementation of changes. It is their part of work as journalists – to see into the reform, to explain the main points of it, to criticize if necessary.
Most of Ukranians have never even heard about any positive changes in our country. And if, by any chance, some ordinary voter would had read or seen a piece of news reporting on some reform, they would have found it rather confusing because it did not show the whole picture, only a separate aspect of what was going on.
After Maidan Ukraine was changing not only due to reforms initialized by President or by his government. Lot of changes occurred in the society itself inspiring such new trends as popularity of inner clothing brands “made in Ukraine” or the appearance of hundreds of stylish coffee shops on the streets of Kyiv. If one walks through Khreshchatyk nowadays, they would notice that most of the shops along the main street of Kyiv are original Ukrainian brands.
Ukrainian farmers cultivate new cultures and some of them already earn their “first million from a hectare”. Have you ever heard anything of these in Ukrainian news? Of course, you have not, because our media actively work on to help Ukrainians to see their glass as half empty.
More did we hear from the TV and read in the newspapers about the scandals of practically no importance. For example, presidential flight to Maldives – this vacation, by no doubts, was not necessary at all, but none of the reforms ongoing at that time grabbed so much of journalists’ attention as this trip.
Therefore, the journalists were crying. Not all of them but some did. Of course, we cannot judge all the professional community by few examples.
What Is the Result?
In its majority the journalists did understand how crucial were changes going on in the country. Still they did not tell about it to their audiences because “nothing personal, just work, and our media has an owner”. Ukrainian journalism has never been recognized for the depth of its analytics or its ability to present the complex issues in clear simple way. However, in that time, so crucial for the whole country, the journalists could have tried their best to grow up professionally in accordance with the demand of social changes. What a pity it is but the journalists have not completed their mission at that crucial time.
As Volodymyr Paniotto, Ukrainian sociologist and head of Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, fairly noted, the voters succumbed to the TV influenced message that life had worsened albeit the facts were proving the opposite.
2. Corruption: Mythical and Real
When Yanukovych was a president Ukrainian journalist Tetyana Chornovol made an investigation on his own corruption background and on his associates. She published her investigative material in her blog at Ukrainska Pravda. What is remarkable about this story is that, for some reason, the editors of the site did not publish this journalist investigation story in “Articles” section on the front page of the site – only in “Blogs”.
Being a freelance journalist then Tetyana studied through tons of materials in search of evidence and facts. She traveled to Donetsk region, where Yanukovych and his team originated from, visited courts there and worked in archives, talked to witnesses and relatives of the persons murdered years ago during the “struggle for power” in Donbas in 1990’s.
At our site Texty.org.ua, we shared some of the most impressive of her findings – such as this one (ukr). To be honest we were afraid to do this. Once I had googled the heading of this material hoping to find many other reprints so Texty.org.ua would get lost, with its single share, among others. The search engine found only two results – the original one at Ukrainska Pravda “Blogs” and ours.
After Revolution of Dignity thanking of western donors hundreds of investigative journalists appeared: from top and famous to small and unknown ones. Even the web sites at small cities and villages publish materials on the corruption of local authorities. Moreover, even within this context of local investigations of small frauds and activities of local officials is Poroshenko often mentioned. Why?
It does not seem to be a conscious targeted attack. It looks rather as a mass scourge, a popular trend to follow. As if people want to declare “Look at me! I am not afraid. I investigate corruption and have no mercy criticizing even the president!” It reminds me of an old soviet joke: “Here we can also walk out the Red Square and yell “Reygan is a fool!”
Some of such journalists shot idles: they did not found the facts of true corruption but cause an informational effect of a nuclear bomb explosion. The most known case is Slidstvo.info film about Poroshenko’s offshores. What had the journalists found out is that Poroshenko had an offshore firm with USD 1000 (one thousand, it is not a misspelling) at its account. In other words, they did not find any evidence of money withdrawal into this offshore.
However, what was shown in the film, with the special effects of anxious voice and spooky music accompanying the whole story, presented it to society as an outstanding case of grand corruption of the head of the state. (The detailed analysis of bias and fact checking of this journalist investigation can be found here).
The final chord of this "Poroshenko drama style" was made by Bihus.Info in their pre-election (because it was released only three weeks before the election date) investigative journalist material dedicated to corruption at UkrOboronProm (Ukrainian defense industry state corporation). The authors did not provide a single fact on Poroshenko’s involvement in schemes of corruption, but his name was mentioned multiple times and his photo was on a top of a pyramid drawn in info graphics to illustrate the whole story.
In addition, the investigators have not yet demonstrated the original documents of correspondence revealed to public, what makes us think that these dialogues could had been falsified at least partially.
As our aggregated ranking of candidates shows, Poroshenko’s rating growth, demonstrated previously, had stopped and then dropped after this material’s release.
Meanwhile the theme of corruption in UkrOboronProm became the central one in Zelenskiy’s campaign. Another interesting detail is that “National Squads” actively used this theme in their public actions (more reminding of performances) which began as rapidly as they ended
And what about other promising topics for journalistic investigations? There were plenty of them at that time – from the suspicion of milliards of dollars from bank deposits withdrawn from “Privat” by Kolomoysky to Yankovych’s schemes of Russian financing of pro-Russian media in Ukraine. However, these topics as well as many others, no less promising, somehow did not attract much attention from Ukrainian anticorruption community.
What Is the Result?
The corruption has de-facto decreased due to a range of actions taken: the recovery of the banking sector, the enforcement of clear procedures in state procurement, systemic changes in state financing of medical care, automatic refund of value added tax, corporate management introduction at some of the biggest state enterprises. The refusal to buy natural gas from Russia has been a great deal in corruption reduction since prior to 2014 this area was very, very corrupted one. Some other, less scale, but not less important, changes also took place (How the reforms have been covered in media – please see the previous section).
However, due do constant anticorruption “investigations”, with its attempts to connect Poroshenko to all the facts detected and undetected, public opinion made was formed in the society that the corruption had become even worse than under Yanukovych presidency and that Poroshenko heads it.
James Sherr, one of the most insightful experts on Ukraine, describes the diagnosis of our reality in the following statement: “Sistema (the system) in Ukraine is not founded upon ‘corruption’, but patron-client relationships, the competition and collusion, but by all means dominance, of a small oligarchy and the subordination of law to money and power. This system, adaptive and tenacious, reinvented itself after the Orange Revolution and the Revolution of Dignity…”
The businessperson, who has just started a successful start-up on open data, privately told me how he used to work at a wholesale beer trade company. “All of the employees were pilfering here and there – from loaders to top managers. The head accountant was stealing the most.
The owner knew about it; he hired my interlocutor to counteract the petty thefts, but turned a blind eye on the dishonest accountant. He held on approximately to the following strategy “I know how much he steals, but he is my person. When any problems emerge, he knows how to deal with them. It is much safer than to hire a specialist from outside”. Still, when the problems really appeared, the “insider accountant” did nothing.
Such is the logic of Ukrainian business environment and governing elites, from which has Poroshenko originated. He acts just as this beer trade wholesaler, preferring to make deals with rich and influential, but predatory and unscrupulous, regional elites.
There was a lot of discussion on Poroshenko’s alliance with Gennadiy Kernes, an odious mayor of Kharkiv, or with Gennadiy Trukhanov, Odessa’s mayor, not less an odious one. After all those deals, suddenly but naturally, occurred the story with the murdering of Kateryna Handziuk, former activist and official of Kherson city council.
Just like in a story with beer trade company, at crucial moment all those “vassals” did nothing: during the presidential election they managed to gain little votes though they swore to raise or, at least, to falsify the support of local voters. Because of the odiousness, they weakened the support of incumbent president. In some cases they just stepped aside, in other, worse scenarios, they played in favor of Poroshenko’s opponents.
“Negotiated deals and blackmailing by force” is the salt power relations in Ukraine. Sistema did not emerge while Poroshenko was a president. Nor did it appear when Kuchma served his term. It was a way of ruling in Soviet Union, and even in earlier times – in Russian empire, before the soviets. Most of us have our roots from those times, and we keep on passing the acquired practices from generation to generation.
Actually, if we use the strict approach of nowadays anticorruptioners, the whole life in Ukraine is permeated with corruption. Here there is no house built without corruption, and most of the mobile phones have been smuggled. Still, taking a broader look, we can notice that is a way of existence, a certain culture with traditions. Surely, these traditions and culture are vicious ones and definitely need to be changed. Poroshenko did not take a risk of changing them.
The question remains open here: is it possible, while fighting an exhaustive war with Russia, to wage another war against inner feudal system? The answer is rather not. What possible is to build up strong and uncorrupted institutes. For example, state prosecutors have mostly got rid of their previous elite racketeer status during last five years. However, state prosecutor office has not yet reached its complete efficiency, and President Poroshenko did not hasten the building up of strong institutions.
Although the investigators and accusers mentioned here have not dag the concrete evidence against Poroshenko, they did feel the rotten core of the system and made it public. Unfortunately not always did they act professionally, because it is easier to feel emotionally than to find and describe concrete facts that help to understand how things work.
What Is the Result?
The efforts to preserve the controllability of the country using traditional Ukrainian methods of governing were perceived by society, by its active part, by journalists and western partners as the attempts to return back to past. Ukrainian citizens, though reproduce these archetypal corruption traditions themselves in their everyday life, but have a huge demand for demolition of this culture. Poroshenko did not want to take the risks of losing the controllability of the country in a war period in order to become a real, not declared, leader of this process. He could demonstrate zero tolerance toward corruption cultural traditions at least in his closest circle, and that could be partial solution in this difficult situation. However, in such case, who would have been willing to stay at presidential team? This statement is relevant not only for Poroshenko and his presidential team, but for any team of any political leader in Ukrainian reality. What should we do then? We will describe here later.
3. From Russia with Hate
I presented my mom a smartphone. Once upon a time I took it and there were dozens of tabs popped up with very wild news headings like “Drunken Poroshenko Ran Away from His Voters” or “An Expert Predicts a Massive Failure to Pay Utilities”.
- Mom, what are you reading?
- I don’t know, it just pops up by itself, I can't close it.
I spent about 20 minutes to close all the tabs, but still could not figure out how they managed to pop up on the main screen. How many people might be covered by this massive attack of fake news?
As it was previously found out in our research, "junk web-sites" that publish fake news and can publish any wild phantasy for a certain pay have up to 50 million of traffic visits per month. Here we have included not all them in our final list.
But not only them spread the disinformation. According to IMI’s monitoring (The Institute of Mass Information, Ukranian NGO working in media sector) only 10 to 15, out of TOP-50, online media try stick up to journalist standards and do not print direct manipulations or fakes. Even so, a part of these 10-15 media demonstrated anti-Poroshenko rhetoric in their publications within last few years.
Although Russian media and social networks are banned in Ukraine, Kremlin propaganda is so widespread and influential that it managed to impose its narratives on Ukrainian society.
All those memes about “utility tariffs genocide”, “Alcoholic Poroshenko”, “authorities make big bucks out of war”, previously used mainly in Facebook hatred groups (please see our study of 2016 on this issue) and in trash media, are now in the lexicon of leading politicians at national talk-shows, parliamentary tribune and pre-election speeches. Old "thought viruses" are effectively supplemented by new ones, such as “Doctor Death” (about acting minister of health Ulyana Suprun).
We wrote many times about goals and methods of Russian propaganda. Let us remind about its main goal – to make Ukrainians believe that they do not need their own state, because this state always happens to be ruled by corrupted scums and bastards.
Another goal of Russian propaganda is to contra pose the authority and people at all levels. During the hot phase of war in 2014-2015, the attempts to stir up the resentment of soldiers toward their commanders were frequently made. One of the soldiers used to tell me – “They have taken us out of the sanatorium near Mariupol where we were based. It will be renovated and become a resort place for generals’ wives”.
The Bolsheviks in 1917 used the same tactics of setting people against “bourgeoisie” or soldiers against officers. Later, when soviet secret police NKVD tried to recruit traitors among UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army, acting in 1942-1956), it used the same strategy describing how hard everyday life of ordinary fighters was while their chief commander Roman Shukhevych was getting treatment at sanatorium - the story described in the memoires of former UPA member Mariya Savchyn “A thousand of roads”.
The method is very old but efficient one, recommended even by ancient Chinese war strategists in their advice on how to oppose the people of your future enemy country against its authorities.
Yet such propaganda has very favorable conditions in Ukraine. The experts explain it by the fact that our lands used to be occupied for long periods of history and our people do not trust the authority because previously the authorities were mainly strangers.
Nevertheless, it is just one of the factors. At the same time the whole years of our Independence (since 1991), Russian propaganda emphasized the differences between “us” and “them”, it is another one deeply rooted belief. “I will become one of them. I will lose the trust of people” – Andriy Bohdan, the lawyer of Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s campaign, repeats his boss’s words in the interview to Ukrainian Pravda.
In fact, the current authority is the closest one to people within Ukrainian history. Many civil activists took the challenge and became politicians or servant, taking part in laws development and adoption. Lots of grassroots initiatives have been implemented. Of course, the authority itself still reminds the soviet one in many ways, but this particular issue of people and authority cooperation has not been in the scope of public attention at all (Please see our first chapter on media). Instead, public opinion gazed at any possible contradictions dividing “us” and “them” through a magnifying glass.
Our political leaders are very convenient target for criticism and there will always be tons of lie, accusations and hatred headed at them. Poroshenko received the biggest portion of it because he led a war with Russia. Gradually, this hatred from Russian propaganda infected more and more Ukrainians; it became a part of Ukrainian political discourse.
“Hide your hands” – states one of Russian disinformation campaigns rules.
All those “thought viruses” spread in three clusters: social networks, junk web sites and respectable pro-Russian media operating in Ukraine. Recently Facebook has made a statement about new disinformation technics in social media used by Russia. Instead of using bots, they hire real people who spread the necessary messages.
Still the old soviet secret service practices are not left behind. “KGB in France” is a book that describes how this special service used its agents among journalists, ultra-right activists, intellectual, and others to influence the public opinion. It is at least foolish to hope that there are no such agents operating in Ukraine now.
What Is the Result?
Russian disinformation machine managed to impose its intellectual frames on our inner political discourse, and many of our political actors – politicians, journalists, experts began to exist in the narratives written by Russian repeating, sharing and enhancing it. As a result, the actors performed a fake play, and the voters could not understand the reality.
4.“It is not me who is good, it is Poroshenko who is bad”
Most of presidential candidates used it as their election motto, building their election campaigns on criticizing Poroshenko. Any ides “in support” were rare; I can recall now only the idea to cut the gas price twice. Still this promise was a kind of critical judgment of current authorities.
In the rules of Russian disinformation campaigns mentioned above, there is a statement about using the so-called useful idiots. During the last few years, almost all our politicians played the roles of such idiots because they kept on repeating Russian memes. Although those memes are well done and stick easily to the opponents, still we must do our best trying not to repeat them in favor of our enemy. Politicians, you should add some creativity and find your own narratives in criticizing current authority – the ones that would not fit the Russian propaganda.
5. Deprived from the Trough
A few years ago marshrutka drivers, city carriers who drive privately owned buses to serve as public transportation, rebelled in Ternopil. They were against city council’s initiative to get rid of direct cash payments to drivers and to introduce monthly travel cards at city roads served by marshrutka. Though forced to do this they were very unsatisfied with such turn and blamed the authorities of all levels (including current president) for the decision that deprived them from their “legal” unofficial income.
In Kyiv, all the parking men who took money as they wished and did not give any accountability were fired. They are also very resentful since they considered their semi-legal activity a real job. “Criminal power” (another meme of Russian propaganda) deprived them from their profits.
If we mention the smugglers here – we would notice that the whole regions used to profit from shuttle smuggling. Now this activity is harder to perform.
We can also mention here the “Euro plate numbers” (illegal scheme of importing the old cars from Europe without customs clearance), the owners of which now have to pay in order to drive their cars legally.
Other prominent cases are the stories of judges who, faced the new requirements of the legislation on passing the re-certification, have decided not even trying. Their previously accumulated wealth, mostly illegal, provided them with enough income for more than a decent life after retirement. Yet they are resentful as well. Just as Ihor Kolomoyskyi, Ukrainian oligarch, who was forced to obey the law and thus felt deprived from his “business as usual” methods.
Then there are old police workers who failed the re-attestation. Though many of them later got the reinstatement through court, they have not forgiven the “humiliation”.
In addition, how many people have been deprived from profiting on state tenders after Prozorro, new state procurement system, was introduced? It is impossible to count all the “firms and companies” previously engaged in the schemes of cashing out the money from VAT refund and so on. Many doctors are unsatisfied with medical reform because it deprived them from the possibilities of illicit earnings.
Maidan and, on their opinion, Poroshenko deprived all those people from their "staff of life" and they feel resentful.
What Is the Result?
Ukrainian society has been very sick for a long time. Fraud has become almost a norm and tax evasion is considered rather a virtue nowadays. Even moderate reforms of the times of Poroshenko’s presidency have changed the lives of many depriving them from their not quite honest income.
6. Poroshenko’s “Kuchma-style”
Poroshenko behaved very haughty for a long time. There was an internet video, dated approximately 2017, where he yelled at some workers who asked him uncomfortable questions. The same was during the first round of election campaign. One eyewitness told me about meeting the president then “He met with people at our company and made an arrogant, unfriendly impression”.
When Poroshenko spoke from the parliamentary tribune or at official events, he looked fine, but, again, too official and formal – not as a real man, but rather as some function of the president. For some reason the president, who took office immediately after Maidan, put on the mask of soviet secretary general of communist party. That concerns his public speeches. Moreover, in five years, he has never normally spoken to his supporters, never tried to have an ordinary, sincere conversation with them.
He was walking at the head of the columns shaking hands, but he was not that leader who lights the hearts. In his style of politics, he relied mainly on previously mentioned deals and negotiations, not on the transparent policymaking. In his communication with people one could feel the insincerity and duplicity, inappropriate in this case, combined with the desire to get the necessary decision and to avoid the responsibility for it – as in the case of mandatory declaration of income for NGO employees, adopted in parliament in 2017.
His communication of this issue then was expressed in the message – “It is not me, it is the members of Parlament, to blame!” Formally, he was right, but only formally. The formality instead of honesty is another legacy of the soviet past and Poroshenko has not got rid of it. Actually, he was hardly aware of it. By the way, almost all Ukrainian politicians and journalists as well, show the problem of formality.
Another un-respectful issue: During the election campaign, the closer fan-zone, near the scene, was filled with true supporters of the president, still, according to Ukrainian, former soviet, tradition the organizers brought the state employees “for better visual picture”.
After devastating results of the first round, Poroshenko had changed, at least in his public appearance. His speeches became more sincere, frank and wholehearted. He put off his official mask and we could see the real man, a human, whom we could trust and who had been through a lot, but had also done a lot for the country in its hard times.
It looks as only after his defeat in the first round Poroshenko had suddenly felt the joy of true public speeches re-echoing in the hearts of people. If he had spoken like this during previous five year of his presidency, his opponents would have had no chances. Yet to begin to speak differently one should become a different person first. Well, the bitterness of the defeat is a good incentive for this.
If our assumption is right, he has all chances to make another very important accomplishment, comparable to Tomos (Granting Autocephaly to Orthodox Church of Ukraine - Texty). Poroshenko has the opportunity to launch a new, conservative, party – a party that would survive him as well as all of us. We will discuss it later on after analyzing his electoral campaign and the work of his team.
What Is the Result?
Poroshenko was afraid to become the leader of changes supported by active citizens. He chose an old, well-known model. It undermined the trust in him and made him vulnerable to informational manipulations.
7. Hatespeech by “Poroshenko’s Bots”
“What can these writers do? To bark for money and to write non-sense, helping Russian propaganda – that is what they can. They cannot be the conscience for authorities or the enlightenment for masses because no one would pay them for it” – messages like this one appear in Facebook comments. They follow Poroshenko’s critics and are written from weird accounts.
“Journalizds”, “journalsluts”, “TVwarms”, “mediawhores” – those are the words used in FB accounts of Poroshenko’s supporters. They might not be the supporters explicitly, but implicitly they are, using their FB accounts to build hatred to journalists.
Though we began this material criticizing Ukranian journalists, but we do not support the hatred speech. Hatred language would not solve the problem. On the contrary, personal assaults only exacerbate already existing problems. Just as the investigative journalists are ought to look for evidences and facts to prove their assumptions, the critics of the journalists have to point out the imperfections in journalists work in a quiet, tactful and argumentative manner.
Social networks are not the boarding house of noble maidens, of course, and hatred here is often off scale. However, if people from Poroshenko’s team hire PR-company for saving the electoral rating, they should clearly mark the frames to work in.
Ukraine is waging a war and sometimes criticism may remind the misinformation of enemy, but such assumptions cannot be the excuse for unethical behavior. We all must act with integrity and responsibility. Heightening the hatred in the society leads to nowhere but stagnation. Nevertheless, it hurt Poroshenko himself as the latest presidential election showed. “The sky treats all equally, but it strengths the justice” – Lao Tzu taught.
When Gandhi was trialed, he criticized Britain’s policy, but was polite and friendly with executors. He strongly believed that people could depend on circumstances as well as on their own delusions etc. That was a delicate political strategy: to build human relations avoiding personal assaults and to persuade state servants to take his side. In his campaign, Poroshenko (or his proxy) acted exactly the opposite.
It is, basically, impossible to prevail over Russia and Ihor Kolomoyskyi’s media empire while acting with their methods of work. One should act differently: to speak honestly and to refute the manipulations, directing all means and efforts to deliver your ideas and arguments and to make them heard. Hatred speech creates informational buzz and represses the mind while Poroshenko’s true force was his rationality.
What Is the Result?
Professional and people solidarity did work: part of journalists and activists, who could possibly support Poroshenko’s state-building policy, became his enemies.
8. Poroshenko’s Political Campaign Staff
A friend of mine who works as a political consultant once joked that political consultants do not affect anything: if things are going nice everything will be nice without efforts, if failure is coming, it will be inevitable.
Even so, Poroshenko’s election team was bringing failure closer. There was no political campaign as it should have been. Election slogan “Army Language Faith” is a right one as well as TV commercials and boards with Putin. Yet it is just an element of a bigger company.
Even at the height of presidential campaign neither Poroshenko himself, nor his staff reacted adequately to emerging challenges. They were silent. When Poroshenko commented on something it was usually too late, his words got lost in the whirl of new scandals.
“Campaign staff must know the headlines of tomorrow media” – taught Americans the staff members of The People's Movement of Ukraine (first non-communists party in Ukraine, does not exist today) in old, pre digital. Poroshenko’s staff did not know, what would be said or written tomorrow, they did not even hear what was said yesterday.
As weird as it seems, but no one tried to tell Ukrainians how crucial some reforms were, what were its accomplishments, how hard it all was and how did public activists worked together with authorities.
We published a list of 21 accomplishments achieved in five years after Maidan. If we take each economic sector or public sphere separately, we would be able to compile a list of 100 or 200 achievements. In spite of that, people who voted did not know about these accomplishments. Poroshenko and his campaign staff were hiding behind the formal rules: “We speak only about presidential sphere of responsibility”. Still, Poroshenko’s political block formed a coalition and brought the government to power, or even two governments. Each of them had its success and failures, why should they had been hidden?
Almost all intellectuals and many of cultural figures publicly expressed their support to Poroshenko and who knew it? There was nothing done on cooperation with regional media, field organizers worked in one regions and in another ones people did not even see a single agitation booklet from Poroshenko.
Zelenskiy’s campaign advertising, held mainly in social media, was far more effective. Zelenskiy gained even more votes than previously predicted by sociological surveys. It means that he managed to mobilize his voters on the day of the election. The last day mobilization of voters should have become Poroshenko’s advantage but it turned out the opposite.
What Is the Result?
Poroshenko’s political campaign was going of its own accord. Even Zelenkiy’s staff is surprised why no one showed Ukrainians all the strengths and advantages of Poroshenko. Mykhailo Fedorov, Zelenskiy’s digital campaign coordinator, said in his interview to Liga.net “Many people could had possibly got to know something interesting about him (Poroshenko) during this campaign and to become his sympathizers again”.
9. Gas Price and Western Partners
About half of Ukrainians are expecting the new president to lower the gas price. Here we can assume that gas price had become a key factor for those voters who are not very sophisticated in politics. Gas price is ought to be high, it stimulates the economic to be efficient.
However, for IMF to demand another gas price increase just before the election, while the previous increase was in spring 2018, was like a shot in the back for current government. It was a risky and rather foolish thing to do, because political instability that might follow it, would lead to situation when Ukraine does not pay its debts at all or collects even more of them. Even Sicilian mafia makes concessions when somebody of their care faces problems. Not because of mercy, but to save the hen that bears golden eggs.
In theory, we could have written another article about the factors that were in favor of Zelenskiy, but we will not. Because in the disposition of circumstances described here anyone, who would have made it into the second round of presidential election, would have won automatically. Zelenskiy was just lucky one – or not, because now he will be the one to deal with most of the problems described here.