Imprisoned opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko knows this. Between bouts of debilitating pain she is calling for the opposition to unite, even proposing her party surrenders seats in some majoritarian wards for the sake of coalition unity. But are the democratic forces listening? Have they learned the lessons of the past? Are they equipped to win over the hearts and minds of an increasingly cynical and Internet savvy public? To do so they must throw out the old rule book and change their campaign thinking and methods.
Voters are deeply disillusioned with the current generation of political leaders – all of them. With the ruling Party of Regions flagging in the polls, most commentators expect the election will be rigged and without jailed opposition leaders being released, it’s doubtful that the international community will give the election a clean bill of health. But that’s no reason not to take part.
The challenge facing parties is to win back the trust of the large mass of uncommitted “swing voters.” With so few fresh-faced challengers, the electorate will vote for which party they dislike least rather than which they like most. For many of the old elite, it will be their last chance for glory before a new generation of political leaders emerges.