A Counter-factual

On tonight's Savik Shuster program, candidate Sergiy Tigipko was asked if he would have won the 2004 presidential election if he had been the establishment candidate instead of Viktor Yanukovych. His answer echoes conventional wisdom, even at the time: yes. Of course, as a counter-factual perhaps a less definitive answer is needed (maybe, but leaning positively).

Tigipko has a strong profile: he was Vice-Premier for Economics in Pavlo Lazarenko's government, Minister of Economics in Viktor Yushchenko's government, elected an MP on the "For United Ukraine" list in 2002, and director of the Central Bank. He led Viktor Yanukovych's failed campaign in 2004, and left politics after that defeat. When he joined the election campaign in 2009, some suggested that he would be a technical candidate for Yuliya Tymoshenko. But, he has run a credible campaign.

To sum it up, Tigipko has been associated with all major contenders - and sides - but has been out of politics over the last five years. He has credible outsider credentials, and also is capable of projecting a strong public image. But, with poll numbers well below Tymoshenko (half or less), he is unlikely to catch up even though his trajectory was ticking upward. His name should pop up in the second round as he is courted - by both camps - perhaps with a cabinet position or as a potential prime minister down the line.

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