Kiev (AP) - The actor and political newcomer Volodymyr Selenskyj is forecast to be the new president of crisis-ridden Ukraine. The pro-Western 41-year-old came in the run-off election in the former Soviet republic to about 73 percent of the vote.
Incumbent Petro Poroshenko can expect with about 25 percent of the vote, as several television stations, citing various opinion research institutes in Kiev reported. There were therefore some invalid ballots. The pro-Western course of Ukraine should not change. Significant results are expected in the night of Monday.
The election is historic in many ways: with Selenskyj, a head of state without any government experience comes to office for the first time in the country between the EU and Russia. It would also be the highest score ever achieved by a president of independent Ukraine. Selenskyj, the youngest president of Ukrainian history, is aiming to join the EU like Poroshenko. A controversial NATO membership of Ukraine should decide a referendum.
In contrast, the last received in Berlin by Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) received 53-year-old Poroshenko after five years in office defeat. He had led an anti-Russian election campaign. Poroshenko warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to subjugate the country. Selenskyj rejected allegations of being a Russian puppet.
The oligarch Poroshenko was the great hope of the EU and the US five years ago after the pro-European protests on the Maidan - the Independence Square. He had already said before the looming election defeat, to accept every election result. "I rely on the wisdom of the Ukrainian people," he said on election day.
Celebrated in his homeland show star Selenskyj plays for years a president of the comedy series "Sluha Narodu" - in German: servant of the people. As in the series of TV station 1 + 1, in which a history teacher is surprisingly head of state, he now wants to destroy as a "simple man," as he says, the corrupt system in his home country. He also declared that he would do everything to end the war in eastern Ukraine. He was also ready for dialogue with Russia.
Critics accuse the comedian of being a populist with no real program for the future of the country. Selenskyj's closeness to the oligarch Igor Kolomoiski, who made his mood against Poroshenko with his TV channel 1 + 1, is also a recurrent theme.
The country torn between Ukrainian nationalists and Russia-friendly parts of the population is likely to be one of the most difficult tasks for the new Ukrainian president. Many people are hoping for more prosperity, especially rising wages and pensions, and declining living costs.
Tens of thousands of policemen secured the approximately 30,000 polling stations. Before the vote of Selenskyj exposed an activist of the Ukrainian women's rights group Femen. Shirtless, the heavily pregnant woman protested against the favorite and said: "Selenskyj is a cat in a poke." Nobody knew in which direction the Ukraine was heading under him.
The actor's victory had been expected after surveys in recent weeks. But it is unclear how he can meet the high expectations of the population. He relies on a named after his television program party. But this is not yet represented in the parliament. Selenskyj would be the first president without his own power base. Until taking office, he still has a few weeks time. He considers it possible that, in view of the unclear balance of power in the Supreme Rada, he prefers the general election scheduled for October.
Elections 2019, Ukrainian
Reporters Without Borders to Ukraine
OSCE report on the situation before the election
Fact sheet of the EU on relations with Ukraine
Independent website on EU Association Agreements
EU on relations with Ukraine
EU on trade relations with Ukraine
Merchandise Trade Statistics of Ukraine
Foreign Office of Ukraine
Press portal of the OSCE
Message from the Electoral Commission in Kiev
Twitter by Petro Poroshenko
Twitter by Volodymyr Selenskyj