Klitschko Not Ruling Out Presidential Run in Next Year’s Race

March 26, 2018

Kyiv mayor Vitaliy Klitschko told a German newspaper that he hasn’t ruled out seeking Ukraine’s presidency in the 2019 election, the LB.com domestic news outlet reported on Sunday (Mar 25). An interviewer from the TagesSpiegel publication asked Klitschko if he might run for president next year, and Klitschko replied, “I do not rule this out. However, before I do this I have to achieve success in Kyiv and take what I have promised the people to completion.” In the same interview, Klitschko also called for sanctions against Russia to be maintained and strengthened in order to combat what he called “the aggressive Russian policy”. Klitschko ran for president in 2014 but withdrew and endorsed Petro Poroshenko after it became clear that the latter had the overwhelming support of the United States and the European Union. Ukraine’s presidential election is due in just over a year’s time at the end of next March.

We think that Klitschko’s consideration of a presidential bid is a direct result of recent polls showing a sharp slide in Poroshenko’s electoral ratings. It has long been thought that Poroshenko and Klitschko had made an alliance that would last for two presidential terms, but it appears that Poroshenko’s rather weak position could be leading Klitschko to reconsider. What is clear is that much of the Western community is alarmed by the prospect of a Yulia Tymoshenko presidency in Ukraine, which would bring a rollback of economic reforms and a return to left-wing paternalism. If the West sees Poroshenko as incapable of beating Tymoshenko, they will likely seek to back a different candidate to draw maximum support from Ukraine’s key center-right electorate. Up to now, it has been speculated that popular music star Sviatoslav Vakarchuk would be that candidate, but Klitschko is more experienced in politics and could be a superior choice. It is also too early to state that Poroshenko will not be able to recover and hold on to his 2014 mantle as the main center-right candidate. However, there was more bad news for him this week, as domestic media reported that his main coalition partner, Interior Minister Arseniy Avakov, has been in talks to throw his support to Tymoshenko in the presidential race. Avakov was previously a top member of Tymoshenko’s political clan during the years of her premiership in 2007-2009.

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