Actor and humorist Volodymyr Zelensky, a newcomer in politics, today achieved a resounding victory over outgoing President Petro Poroshenko in the presidential election in Ukraine. The result reflects the extent of the voters’ mistrust of the current rulers. Petro Poroshenko, the outgoing president of Ukraine, has since acknowledged his defeat and congratulated his opponent Volodymyr Zelensky.
Ukraine went to the polls today for the second round of the presidential election. The struggle was between current president Petro Poroshenko and political newcomer and actor Volodymyr Zelensky. Zelensky was the clear winner in the first round. He also led the dance in the polls for the second round.
According to the poll by Exit Poll National, a consortium of three institutes, 41-year-old Zelensky won 73.2 percent of the vote in the second round of the elections. His rival Poroshenko 25.3 percent.
Its popularity stems from the dissatisfaction of the Ukrainians with the elite, which they regard as corrupt and inefficient. The supporters of Zelensky see in him a fresh wind in politics. However, his opponents denounce that he has an unclear program and is politically inexperienced. In addition, the actor is accused of being a hand puppet of the oligarch Igor Kolomojski, an enemy of former President Poroshenko.
The political newcomer surrounded himself with counselors and assured him to continue the pro-Western course of his country. At the same time, he wants to conduct negotiations with Russia. He avoided electoral meetings and limited contacts with voters to stand-up performances. He mainly spoke in videos on social media instead of in the press.
“Everything is possible”
Zelensky promised the Ukrainians he “will never drop them”, in his first statement to his supporters at his campaign headquarters after the polls.
Zelensky presented his victory to the other countries of the former Soviet Union as proof that “anything is possible”. “As long as I am not officially a president, I can say to all countries of the post-Soviet space, as a Ukrainian citizen: Look at us! Everything is possible”.
Poroshenko: “I am not leaving politics”
The outgoing President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, has recognized his defeat in the presidential elections and congratulated his opponent Volodymyr Zelensky. At the same time, he promised that he would not leave politics.
The exit polls, which give him only 25 percent of the votes, “are clear and give me every reason to call and congratulate my opponent,” Poroshenko told his supporters. “I accept this decision. I am leaving my positions, but I want to emphasize: I am not leaving politics,” he added. In Ukraine, parliamentary elections are scheduled for the end of October.
Van Den Driessche: “Striking victory of the candidate without a party”
It is striking that a presidential candidate without a party and without very clear positions has received support from such a large part of the population. That is what senator Pol Van Den Driessche says, who is following the elections in Ukraine as an observer for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The election went very peacefully and without tensions, the N-VA said.
Van Den Driessche followed the elections in 14 polling stations on Sunday. “In contrast to ours, the ballot papers are not folded, so you can just see how people vote. That is very bizarre,” says Van Den Driessche. “So I started counting and it was soon clear that Zelensky would win. Even during the first round, it seemed that it would go in that direction.”
According to Van Den Driessche, it was striking that the support for Zelensky spread throughout the country, and also among young and old people. “I only occasionally saw older people vote for Poroshenko, but most of them chose Zelensky,” he said.
“That such a large majority has indicated that things have to change is a clear message of hope”, says Van Den Driessche
The election went very peacefully and without tensions. “Representatives from both sides were present in the polling stations, but it was more like a meeting in a residential care center, with a coffee and a chat,” says Van Den Driessche. “That is striking for a young democracy, only five years after Maidan.”
Before the elections, questions had been raised about what Poroshenko, who has so much support from the army, would do if he lost. “However, his entourage has indicated that the transfer would be peaceful,” says Van Den Driessche. “Although Poroshenko will try to win in the parliamentary elections in October.”
The resounding victory of Zelensky indicates that the Ukrainians have hope that he will fight corruption and the oligarchy, according to the senator. “The question now is how he is going to get support in parliament since he has no party.” Moreover, he only participated in one debate, did no other interview and mainly conducted the social media campaign. “It is striking that a person with so little experience, no party and few clear positions, was elected anyway,” says Van Den Driessche.
“That such a large majority has indicated that things have to change is a clear message of hope,” the senator concludes, adding that it looks like a big party will erupt at Maidanplein.