The actor Volodymyr Selenskyj has won the runoff election for presidential office in Ukraine according to forecasts. The pro-Western 41-year-old can count on about 73 percent of the vote, as Ukrainian TV stations reported on Sunday, citing several opinion research institutes in Kiev. Incumbent Petro Poroshenko can therefore count on about 25 percent of the vote. Final results are expected on the night of Monday.
The election is historic in several ways: with Selenskyj, a head of state comes into office in the ex-Soviet republic for the first time without any government experience. 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.
They had delivered a heated election campaign three weeks ago since the first ballot. "It is very important that in the election of the mind reserves," Poroshenko said in his vote in Kiev, "I rely on the wisdom of the Ukrainian people." Selenskyj countered in the polling station: "Today I voted for a worthy man in office."
Poroshenko repeatedly blamed Selenskyj for inexperience and populism. In turn, Selenskyj criticized Poroshenko for not having ended the war in the east of the country during his five years in office. In addition, corruption under Poroshenko has increased.
"Selenskyj is a cat in a poke"
Tens of thousands of police officers 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." No one knows in which direction the Ukraine is heading under him.
The bloody conflict in eastern Ukraine was one of the main topics of the election campaign. Poroshenko was elected five years ago with the promise to end the conflict quickly. According to UN figures, around 13,000 people have been killed in battles between government soldiers and pro-Russian separatists. The battles continue. The implementation of the Minsk peace plan agreed in 2015, inter alia by German and French mediation, is on hold.
Both in the European Union and in neighboring Russia, the vote is followed with great interest. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hoped that after the election of the Minsk peace plan will be pushed forward again. But he did not want to comment on the election, he told Russian agencies.