Ukrainian President's Party Wins Snap Elections In Bid To Consolidate Power
Exit polls in Ukraine indicate that the party of the country's comedian-turned-president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has won a snap election aimed at strengthening its coalition only months after coming to power.
Zelensky's Servant of the People party is expected to garner about 41 percent of the vote and gain a majority in parliament, but it will not have enough seats to govern without allies, according to the polls released Sunday.
The pro-Russian Opposition Platform appeared to have placed second, with about 12 percent. The party of former President Petro Poroshenko, who Zelensky unseated in April, finished third, according to polls quoted by Reuters.
Prior to his election, Zelensky, 41, was known for his comic television portrayal of a schoolteacher who becomes president. However, his transition from fictional president to actual president hasn't been exactly made-for-television.
Zelensky has pledged to go after corruption but he has been frustrated by his inability to get the cooperation of the outgoing parliament.
Most recently, he has been at odds with Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, who he has failed to get parliament to dismiss. He has also traveled around the country criticizing local officials for corruption and inefficiency even as his own government has yet to take shape.
Zelensky's next move is to form a coalition with which he can govern. He has vowed to shun the next-largest vote-getter, Opposition Platform, over its support of Russia. Since 2014, Ukraine has been battling Kremlin-backed separatists in the country's east and its relations with Moscow have been strained at best since Poroshenko unseated pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych the same year.
Instead, Zelensky has offered a chance to the pro-Western Voice party, led by popular rock star lead singer Sviatoslav Vakarchuk, to enter the government. The exit polls put Voice in fifth place.