Television comic and political newcomer Volodymyr Zelenskiy appears headed for a landslide victory over incumbent President Petro Poroshenko in a strong rebuke of establishment politics amid a struggling economy and war in the country’s east.
With 73.2 percent of the ballots counted in the April 21 second-round vote, Zelenskiy had 73.1 percent, compared with just 24.6 percent for the 53-year-old billionaire businessman, mirroring exit polls, RFE/RL reports.
Zelenskiy has described his candidacy as “a simple man who has come to destroy this system,” in a reference to public perceptions that Ukraine’s politics and society are mired in corruption and nepotism against the backdrop of a draining five-year war against Russia-backed separatists.
Poroshenko, who conceded soon after an early National Exit Poll was released, had cast himself as the candidate capable of blunting Russian aggression.
“I want to say that I am very grateful to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who just congratulated me on my victory,” Zelensky said at a press conference shortly after polls closed in the April 21 runoff. “I thank him. He said that I can count on his help at any time. He acknowledged my victory and my team’s.”
European Council President Donald Tusk congratulated Zelenskiy on his expected victory, as did French President Emmanuel Macron and British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt.
Ukrainska Pravda reported that U.S. President Donald Trump has already spoken with Zelenskiy by phone to congratulate him.
Turnout for the two-man second round was said to have been a little over 62 percent.