Sitcom star Volodymyr Zelenskiy has 73% of the votes reported so far, while President Petro Poroshenko is far behind at about 25%.
With just over half of Ukraine’s polling stations reporting, a comedian whose only political experience consists of playing a president on TV is cruising toward a landslide victory in Sunday’s presidential election. Sitcom star Volodymyr Zelenskiy has 73% of the votes reported so far, while President Petro Poroshenko is far behind at about 25%.
It is a crushing rebuke to Poroshenko’s five years in office and the results are seen as a reaction against Ukraine’s entrenched corruption and low standard of living. Zelenskiy is promising wide changes in the top echelons of government. Ukraine has been plagued by rampant graft, a sickly economy and a grinding, five-year war with Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country that has killed over 13,000 people. Opinion surveys ahead of Sunday’s vote have shown 53-year-old President Petro Poroshenko trailing far behind comic actor Volodymyr Zelenskiy, reflecting public dismay with endemic corruption, a moribund economy and a five-year fight against Russia-backed insurgents in the country’s east.
Zelenskiy, 41, got twice as many votes as Poroshenko in the first round three weeks ago. Like his sitcom character, a teacher thrust into the presidency after a video of him blasting corruption goes viral, he has focused on fighting graft, riding the wave of public distrust of Ukraine’s political elite. Poroshenko, a billionaire candy magnate before taking office, has relied on traditional political barnstorming, using sympathetic television stations to extensively cover his appearances. Zelenskiy, however, has largely stayed away from the campaign trail and eschewed interviews. He has run his campaign mainly on Instagram, where he has 3.7 million followers.