Gritsenko

Anatoli Gritsenko is a perennial presidential candidate and leader of the Civil Position party.

He is a man trading on a political past of long ago in relation to his last holding office – far enough back in history for his face to remain familiar but his acts and deeds (be they good, bad, or indifferent) somewhat dulled with the passage of time.

He often polls well – right up until polling day when the survey forecasts have consistently abandoned him leaving him un-elected and his party outside the walls of the Verkhovna Rada.

He is currently polling at about 12-13% of the vote – at least among the voters who claim to have already decided who they will vote for, which is therefore nothing like being the same thing as 12-13% of the national vote.

Since the beginning of 2018 Mr Gritsenko has made public overtures toward Misha Saakashvili’s Rukh New Forces, as well as political parties The DemAliance, The People’s Control, the Libertarians, European Party of Ukraine, and has made several flirtations toward Samopomich.

Naturally Samopomich is the biggest fish among minnows – it already has MPs in the Verkhovna Rada and a fairly well run party machinery – and it’s leader is also polling with 3-4% of decided voters for the presidential campaign.  Clearly Mr Gritsenko would like that 3% of the vote being bequeathed to him by the Mayor of Lviv Andrei Sadovy, as well as then borrowing the Samopomich party machinery to enhance presidential and then Verkhovna Rada ambitions.

In short Mr Gritsenko has spent all year trying to attract the minnows to him and sought their support for his presidential candidacy.  He has had varying success thus far, and the larger Samopomich fish has yet to be caught from among the minnows.

Further while it appears that the somewhat infamous Viktor Bolha will (eventually formally) act as campaign manager, a message of “fighting corruption” may be a difficult sell when your campaign manager has long been associated with industrial scale smuggling.  There are also one or two questionable old school names such as Nikolai Katerinchuk currently in close orbit, notwithstanding political technologists who once worked with Sergei Liovochkin in what some will perhaps consider “questionable ways”.

That said the team coalescing around him does include younger faces external of politics too.

12th September witnessed another public appeal from Mr Gritsenko to Samopomich to join his coalition of minnows – maybe they will (after extracting concessions and Verkhovna Rada guarantees), but the odds are probably against it, for there appears little to gain for Samopomich in doing so.

The problem for Mr Gritsenko is that of perception – it all appears a little too desperate (and it will only look worse as the electoral horizon gets ever closer).  Will we witness yet another polling day collapse during his presidential campaign – or if he succeeds, how quickly can he for a parliamentary force that will allow him to control/significantly influence the parliament?

It all still appears that success remains rather unlikely regardless of any opinion surveys.