The jump from a marginal western Ukrainian party into parliament happened because of a metamorphosis that took place over the past few years and that accelerated during the campaign. Many of Svoboda’s most radical ideas were tamed, enabling the party to win over voters across the board.
Ihor Zhdanov, head of Vidkryta politika think tank, said he told Svoboda Party leader Oleh Tiahnybok: “You have brand new types of voters, Russian speakers and even Jews.”
Semyon Gluzman, a former Soviet dissident and a prominent voice in the Jewish community, said he has a few Jewish friends who voted for Svoboda. “I think this is a childish emotional reaction to what the government is doing,” Gluzman said. “If the ballots had an ‘against all’ option, the vote would go there.” He said Tiahnybok is “essentially a cynic” and a very pragmatic personality.