Ukrainian opposition leader Tymoshenko massively outspending her rivals in the 2019 presidential race

Ukrainian opposition leader Tymoshenko massively outspending her rivals in the 2019 presidential race
Polls front-runner Yulia Tymoshenko has already spent nearly $1mn on advertising
By Ben Aris in Berlin December 4, 2018

Opposition leader, former prime minister and head of Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party Yulia Tymoshenko is spending over seven times as much as her main rival in the 2019 presidential race, incumbent President Petro Poroshenko.

With campaigning in full swing for the 2019 presidential elections in March, the leading parties are ramping up their spending, but the popularist firebrand has already pulled out all the stops and is massively outspending the rest of the field on promotional advertising.

The frontrunner in the polls with about a 10 point lead over most of her rivals, Tymoshenko ramped up her ad-spend over 200-fold in the second quarter of this year from the first quarter and has officially already spent nearly a million dollars. Most of the other parties have spent around $200,000 each so far.

Kyiv has been under a forest of posters portraying Tymoshenko for months already, but the other candidates are starting to get into the game now, although the official campaign season does not open until the end of December.

Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party had already spent more than UAH25mn ($885,000) on advertising and media activities in the second quarter of 2018, which is 206 times more than in the previous reporting period, according to Natalia Korchak, a member of the National Agency on Corruption Prevention, who has been tracking ad spending, Ukrinform reports.

The party’s involvement in the campaign is important, as Ukraine will also hold parliamentary elections in October, which are at least as important as the presidential elections in March.

"The Batkivshchyna Party has become very active in financing such activities. Maybe, this was due to the programme represented by Tymoshenko," Korchak said. Batkivshchyna spent a total of UAH25,184,323 in the second quarter of 2018, while in the first quarter, it spent UAH122,168, Korchak says.

Tymoshenko’s rival has been slow to challenge her with advertising, and the Petro Poroshenko Bloc “Solidarity” is spending significantly less, as are most of the other parties in the race. However, the president has the advantage of constant access to state TV and following the naval clash on the Sea of Azov on November 25 the president probably has little need of advertising to promote his message. Solidarity spent UAH2,901,463 ($102,663) in the first quarter and UAH3,452,068 ($122,156) in the second quarter,

As bne IntelliNews described in its who’s who in Ukraine’s elections there are at least six parties in the running for both elections although several of the likely candidates for the presidential race have not declared their intension to run yet.

Expenditures of the pro-Russian Opposition Bloc led by Yuriy Boyko (aka Boiko) have also grown. In the first quarter of 2018, expenditures on propaganda activities (advertising, publishing, printing) amounted to UAH636,214, and UAH6,859,810 in the second quarter of 2018.

The Samopomich Association spent UAH3,355,655 on these activities in the first quarter of 2018, and UAH6,624,656 in the second quarter of 2018; the Radical Party of Oleh Liashko spent UAH548,347 in the first quarter and UAH6,518,993 in the second quarter, and the People’s Front Party has not submitted its financial report over the first quarter, while in the second quarter, the party said it spent UAH999,599 on propaganda activities.