Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he will only hold elections next year if Western countries pay for them. In a statement on his website, the President said that elections can only be held if all Ukrainians, including serving soldiers in battle and people forced to flee the country, can participate. He added that international observers were essential, as well as international funding.
Zelensky added that elections cost around $135 million during peacetime but did not speculate on the cost of a wartime ballot. He did say however that he had discussed the matter with US Senator Lindsay Graham. He told Graham that if the United States and Europe give financial support, elections can go ahead. “I’m sorry, I will not hold elections on credit, I will not take money from weapons and give it to elections either,” Zelensky said.
A ballot is due in March next year, but cannot take place if the country is under martial law – which is renewed every 90 days. A further complication is found in the President’s ban on opposition parties, which he initiated in March 2022. The political organizations Opposition Platform For Life, Left Opposition, Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, Socialist Party of Ukraine, Socialists, Union of Left Forces, Party of Shariy, Opposition Bloc, Ours, State, and Volodymyr Saldo Bloc were all banned by Presidential decree and the ban will continue for as long as the country remains under martial law and at Zelensky’s discretion.
The Opposition Platform For Life party is the second largest in Ukraine after Zelensky’s own party, Servant of the People. He named his organization after a fictional political group portrayed in a television program about an ordinary man who becomes President. The actor who played that man was Volodymyr Zelensky.
Before ascending to the Presidency, Zelensky was an actor and comedian who starred in a comedy about a down-on-his-luck high school teacher who, through a series of viral social media posts, ends up becoming President of Ukraine.