Internal polling in Ukraine shows that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky could lose a presidential election if he faces off with Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, the Ukrainian commander-in-chief, The Economist reported on Tuesday.
So far, Zaluzhny has not expressed an interest in entering the political fray, but he’s been rumored to be a potential candidate. It’s also been reported that he’s been at odds with Zelensky, a spat that spilled into the public after Zaluzhny called the war against Russia a stalemate and said there would likely be no “deep and beautiful breakthrough.”
Zelensky, who is still claiming Ukraine can win, later took a swipe at Zaluzhny, saying Ukrainian generals should stay out of politics. “If a military man decided to do politics, it is his right, then he should enter politics, and then he can’t deal with war,” Zelensky said.
But polling shows the Ukrainian public trusts Zaluzhny more than the country’s political leadership, as Kyiv has been rocked by corruption scandals.
The Economist report reads: “The figures, which date from mid-November, show trust in the president has fallen to a net +32%, less than half that of the still revered General Mr Zaluzhny (+70%). Ukraine’s spychief, Kyrylo Budanov, also has better ratings than the president (+45%).”
Ukraine’s next presidential election is scheduled for March 2024, but Zelensky has ruled out holding one due to the war because Ukraine’s constitution prohibits holding a vote under martial law. Zelensky previously suggested he could hold an election if the West foots the bill but later ruled out the idea.
“I believe that elections are not appropriate at this time,” Zelensky said earlier this month. For now, the Ukrainian public agrees that there shouldn’t be an election. The same polling cited by The Economist said eight out of ten Ukrainians are against holding elections, but things could change as the war drags on with no end or victory in sight.