Ukrainians on Sunday strongly voted the incumbent president, Petro Poroshenko out to make a comedian their next president, thereby ushering in a new era of politics in the struggling country.
Volodymyr Zelensky popularly known as “Ze,” a famous comedian who played the role of Ukraine’s head of state for years on a popular comedy show, defeated the sitting president, Petro Poroshenko, who had been in power since 2014.
According to exit polls, Zelensky won a overwhelming 73 percent of the vote. Poroshenko conceded the race not long after polls closed.
Zelensky has never held any political position and as such, has no prior political experience and hasn’t offered an official plan on how he would govern. But he gave a populist, anti-corruption message during the campaign that clearly resonated with millions of Ukrainians suffering from poverty and government graft. That, adding with his previous celebrity, made him unbeatable during the Eastern European country’s election.
The question now is if he will keep to his promises to stamp out undue oligarch influence in Kyiv and turn Ukraine’s economic fortunes around. After all, the comedian has no prior political experience and didn’t offer a detailed governing blueprint during the campaign.
Ukrainians seems confident that Zelensky embodies the change they hope he can bring to a failing nation.
“Ukraine remains one of the poorest nations in Europe,” says Andreas Umland, an expert at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation in Kyiv, who wrote for the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank on April 16.
The country’s poverty have led millions of Ukrainians to flee in search of greener pastures.
“Ukrainians just want a normal standard of living,” Haring told me, but “Ukraine has gotten poorer as Poroshenko has gotten richer.”
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