A comedian with no political experience won a landslide victory in Ukraine’s presidential election, drawing congratulations from global leaders while dealing a stunning rebuke to his country’s political establishment.
Volodymyr Zelensky, whose only previous political role was playing the president in a TV show, trounced incumbent Petro Poroshenko by taking 73.2 percent of the vote, according to nearly complete official results released early yesterday.
Poroshenko garnered just 24.4 percent, losing to the 41-year-old comedian and actor across the country, with 85 percent of ballots counted after Sunday’s election.
It was an extraordinary outcome to a campaign that started as a joke but struck a chord with voters frustrated by social injustice, corruption and a war with Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine that has claimed some 13,000 lives.
The star of the TV series “Servant of the People” will now take the helm of a country of 45 million people beset by challenges and having run on the vaguest of political platforms.
“I will never let you down,” Zelensky told jubilant supporters at his campaign headquarters where he was showered with glittering confetti.
“I can tell all post-Soviet countries: ‘Look at us! Everything is possible!’,” he declared.
Moscow has a chance of improving ties with Ukraine under the leadership of Volodymyr Zelensky, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said yesterday, adding however that he has “no illusions”.
In the first reaction by a senior Russian official, Medvedev said “there is a chance for improving cooperation with our country”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday congratulated comedian Zelensky on his landslide victory in Ukraine’s presidential election, saying she hopes the vote will help stabilise the troubled country.