Ukrainian TV comic crushes Poroshenko

Ukrainian television comedian Volodymr Zelensky has crushed the incumbent, President Petro Poroshenko (pictured), by three votes to one. 

The political novice said his victory offered a democratic example for the rest of the former Soviet states.

Ukraine’s president holds significant powers over security, defence and foreign policy.

Zelensky has promised “reboot” peace talks with Russian-backed separatists in the east of Ukraine.

“We will… continue with the Minsk talks – we will reboot them,” he said.

“I think that we will have personnel changes. In any case, we will continue in the direction of the Minsk talks and head towards concluding a ceasefire.”

After the results were announced, Zelensky told his supporters: “I will never let you down. 

“I’m not yet officially the president,” the comedian added. “But as a citizen of Ukraine, I can say to all countries in the post-Soviet Union: look at us. Anything is possible,” the 41-year-old added.

The president-elect told supporters he would not “mess up” on the job after exit polls predicted he had gained around 75 per cent of the vote.

After avoiding any detailed policy discussion during the campaign, Zelensky again offered no clues about the direction of his presidency.

Zelensky is best known for starring in the satirical television series, Servant of the People, in which his character accidentally becomes Ukraine’s president. He plays a downtrodden teacher who is elected after his expletive-laden tirade about corruption goes viral.

Zelensky’s newly formed political party uses the same name as the fictional party in the television show.

Since the first round of voting on March 31, the comic’s victory was in little doubt.

Thirty-seven candidates were removed from the ballot after the first round and but Poroshenko’s vote only increased about 9 per cent while Zelensky gained almost 45 per cent more support. 

The result is a huge blow for Poroshenko and a rejection of Ukraine’s political establishment.

A former confectionary magnate, Poroshenko’s political future appears in jeopardy and he now seems ill-placed to build significant momentum ahead of October’s general election.

“The outcome of the election leaves us with uncertainty [and] unpredictability,” Poroshenko said. ”I will leave office but I want to firmly stress, I will not quit politics.”

He earlier tweeted: “A new inexperienced Ukrainian president… could be quickly returned to Russia’s orbit of influence.”

 

 

President Petro Poroshenko’s political career is now in tatters. Picture credit: Wikimedia 

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