The presidential campaign of 2015 is approaching, and talks on a single opposition candidate intensify. Having named themselves the united opposition, leaders of the opposition forces pledged to nominate the single candidate for presidency. At the same time, no alternative to Yulia Tymoshenko's name has been announced. Moreover, on May 18 leaders of three opposition parties declared that the single candidate would be defined only after the first round of election
However, recent news reports reveal disagreements within the opposition. Thus, "UDAR" party stands for nomination of the single candidate already in the first round of elections, while "Motherland" and "Freedom" insist on the second round.

ForUm has asked experts and politicians about possible solutions and whether an agreement is possible at all.

Mykhailo Pogrebynski, director of the Kyiv center for political research and conflict management:

- It's hard to make any forecasts for Ukrainian campaigns in general and Ukrainian opposition in particular. But the most probable variant includes three opposition leaders (Arseniy Yatseniuk, Oleh Tyagnybok and Vitaly Klichko) to run for presidency in the first round.

The fact is that there is no candidate suitable for the role of a single candidate from the very beginning of the campaign. All candidates have their flaws, and it is hard to imagine they can agree among them. If they had to choose today, only Klichko would have chances to become the single candidate. Arseniy Yatseniuk cannot compete, as Klichko has twice higher rating, but at the same time the nationalist camp does not trust him much. Even if western electorate might vote for Klichko's candidature, "Freedom" followers would never support it.  In turn, Yatseniuk is waiting for his ratings to rise or for Yulia Tymoshenko to be released. Moreover, if they decide on the single candidate now, other candidates will lose their positions immediately. 

Denis Bogush, political strategist, president of PR agency Bohush Communications:

- Opposition forces must act together, and the results of the previous elections prove they do not have another choice. If the opposition acts separately, the Party of Regions wins.

Proceeding from the great number of candidates in general, it may happen that none of the opposition candidates can make it to the second round. Thus, in my opinion, the opposition must define the single candidate before the first round. The opposition parties also have to form an opposition government to show voters what team will come with this candidate in case of his victory. Moreover, they have to write down a strategy of country's development and reforms to make under this candidate and describe how they can be better than the current government. If they do not do this, the ruling President will remain in power.

As for possible agreements with probable candidates for presidency like Petro Poroshenko or Mykola Katerynchuk, I can tell you that they will try but will fail. The reason is simple - both will run for presidency not to win but to bargain for high posts.

Kost Bondarenko, expert, political scientist, chairman of the board of the Institute of Ukrainian politics:

- I think it is not correct to say that "UDAR" is against the nomination of a single candidate in the second tour. "UDAR" leader Vitaly Klichko put his signature under the joint memorandum, which says the single candidate will be determined after the first round of elections, and is possible in the first round only if the presidential elections are held in one round only. As far as I know Klichko has not withdrawn his signature yet. It's another matter that Iryna Herashchenko, member of "UDAR" party declared recently that the party might revise its position on the single candidate and might insist on its nomination in the first round. In fact, it is an advantage for Klichko, as he has the highest rating among opposition candidates. At the same time, his rating falls 9% behind the rating of Viktor Yanukovych.

As for Arseniy Yatseniuk, he obviously does not want Klichko as the single candidate, as he himself has presidential ambitions. As of today, "Motherland" follows the formula "Yulia Tymoshenko". Ex-premier tries to prove with all means possible that the single candidate is bad for the opposition and that in the first round the opposition must stake on several candidates, but unite for the second round. Yuri Lutsenko, though, opposes and believes the single candidate is necessary already for the first round. As we can see, the opposition does not have agreement of opinions on the issue.

I think that considering ambitions and disagreements within the opposition, as well as different interests of teams around opposition leaders, it will be difficult for the opposition to nominate the single name. Moreover, if three leading opposition forces nominated the single candidate tomorrow, would it be considered the single candidate from the whole opposition? What if Oleh Lyashko or a candidate from "The Third Republic" nominated themselves tomorrow? Would they be considered the single candidates from the whole opposition? For this I believe that the whole issue of the single candidate from the united opposition is a bluff. Ukraine is still too far from the bipartite system.

Moreover, the opposition would like Petro Poroshenko not to run for presidency as a candidate, but to finance Arseniy Ytseniuk from behind the curtains, which is hardly probable, as Poroshenko does not look like a philanthropist, ready to finance someone while having a high rating himself.

Pavlo Rozenko, MP, "UDAR" party:

- There is one and a half year left till the presidential elections, and discussions on the format of opposition's participation continue. There are two opinions. The first one - to nominate a single candidate in the first round of elections - is supported  by "UDAR" party. We believe it is more efficient to focus all resources on one candidate, and not to compete against each other. Another opinion, supported by "Freedom" and partially by "Motherland", provides for nomination of the single candidate after the first round. In fact, in the first round we will compete against each other, and in the second - against Yanukovych.

The single candidate will be elected following unquestioning advantage of one candidate over the others. To define the winner we will use standard mechanisms and methods, like social surveys covering 15-20 thousand respondents. We will hold such surveys for the whole year of 2014 to see the dynamics of ratings, and this data will become the base to define the single candidate.

There is a probability that the events of 2004 will repeat themselves. In 2002 there were much talks about the format of opposition's participation in the elections, but the year of 2004 proved there is no alternative to the single candidate. Thus, in 2015 we will see again that one candidate is enough to defeat Viktor Yanukovych. 

Andriy Mohnyk, MP, "Freedom" faction:

- A single candidate from the opposition will be nominated in the second round of presidential elections, that is what the document signed by the leaders of opposition forces on May 18 says. If the government passes amendments to the law "On elections" and presidential elections are held in one round only, we will sit down for the talks and decide on the single candidate.

As for possible participation of Petro Poroshenko, he is not an opposition candidate, he is not even a member of the opposition forces. He is a non-faction MP and he used to work in the government of Mykola Azarov. 

Valery Karpuntsov, MP, "UDAR" faction:

- I am not going to comment on this. The official position of the party is published on its website. The party stands for nomination of a single candidate from the opposition already in the first round of elections. Leaders of the opposition forces hold steady dialog on the issue. I am a legal consultant of the party and mind my own business, and others should do the same. We are three different forces, and it is not the business of every single member to comment on the talks. In this situation, only the leaders should comment on the issue.

Yuri Syrotiuk, MP, "Freedom" faction:

- There is a document signed by three opposition leaders and supported by Yulia Tymoshenko, thus whatever certain deputies declare the situation has not changed and will not change until a new document appears.

The question you ask is not our problem, but the problem of Bankova (the street, where the Administration of the President is located - ed.). The worse the economic situation gets, the more worried the authorities appear. It is a classic example of information war against the opposition.

As for candidates for presidency from the opposition, those candidatures you name (Petro Poroshenko, Oleh Lyashko) have not come forward yet. There are three opposition forces - "UDAR", "Freedom" and "Motherland". I have not heard any statements from other politicians who claim their ambitions as opposition members. People know who is a member of the opposition and who is not. Thus, we are discussing nonexistent problem.

Serhiy Sas, MP ("Motherland"), deputy faction head in the parliament:

- A resolution defining the course of the opposition has been signed by all three members of the united opposition. The resolution states that a single candidate will be nominated by the results of the first round of the presidential elections. That opposition candidate who wins the majority of votes will be nominated as the single candidate from the opposition for the second round. The resolution is still in force and none of the members has withdrawn his signature.

Andriy Pavlovski, MP, "Motherland" faction:

- There is a document, signed by the opposition parties' leaders - "The agreement on coordination and cooperation among opposition parties". It was signed and made public on May 18 on Sofiyvska square. It clearly stipulates for the conditions and criteria to determine a single candidate in the second round of elections. If the authorities change the procedure and elections are held in one round only, then the single candidate will be announced before the official start of the election campaign.

If we define and announce the name of the single candidate now, he may be neutralized politically, or God forbid, physically. The authorities already try to discredit Klichko, spreading information that he has not lived in Ukraine for 10 years and must not be registered as a candidate by the Central Election Commission. Even if CEC registers Klichko and we announce him as the single candidate from the opposition, the court may cancel the registration afterwards and the opposition may remain without any candidate at all. So who will Yanukovych compete against? Symonenko? Ridiculous! The opposition must nominate the single candidate, no doubts, but at the same time we must have a backup. Thus, if something happens to the principle candidate, the backup candidate will be able to pick up the flag and continue the march towards the victory of the opposition.

Serhiy Pashynski, MP, "Motherland" faction:

- There is no intrigue here. The opposition settled the issue when signed the political agreement on May 18. Moreover I don't know anything about disagreements. There are about 160 deputies in the opposition and every member has his own opinion on the situation, and it is his right. However, there is an official document, signed by Vitaly Klichko, Oleh Tyagnybok and Arseniy Yatseniuk, and we all follow this document.

If Mr Klichko has a different initiative, let him come forward and we will discuss it together. But for the moment, there is the political agreement, not a protocol on intentions, but the agreement, and until it is denounced by its participants, it is considered valid. Any other information is pure provocations, spread by the authorities. But we have no intentions to bargain either with Viktor Yanukovych or his puppets.  


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