Comedian Vladimir Zelensky is extending lead in Ukraine's presidential election held on March 31 as more than 50 percent of the ballots with 30.23% of votes have been counted, according to the data published on the website of the country’s Central Election Commission. Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has garnered the support of 16.57 percent of voters. ‘Batkivshchina’ Party leader Yulia Timoshenko comes in second with 13.10 percent, followed by ‘Opposition Platform For Life’ Party leader Yuri Boyko with 11.49 percent. Ukraine’s Central Election Commission has already announced that none of the candidates has won an absolute majority of votes, with the second round of the elections due on April 21.
Commenting on the results of the first round, Director of International Cooperation Institute Alexey Bychkov said that “even the advantages of President’s incumbency in a situation Ukraine is currently facing, did not help Poroshenko win in the first round, and take the lead in the first round in fact.” “In the second round, the votes will mostly likely split as follows: obviously radical forces will vote for Poroshenko, from all appearances, though their percentage is not that high – up to 10%. Most of those who casted votes for Boyko will vote for Zelensky. Logic suggests that Zelensky is to win garnering around 55-60% of ballots. Timoshenko’s constituency is highly questionable, and here much depends on personal agreements between Zelensky and Timoshenko or Timoshenko and Poroshenko. It is clear that the Poroshenko-Timoshenko union is out of the question, considering the rhetoric, considering the aggression Timoshenko has demonstrated towards the sitting head of state, and in this respect apparently Timoshenko’s electoral base can be expected to be the electoral base of Zelensky for the most part as well, which is why clear-eyed odds favor Zelensky’s win,” the expert believes.
Meanwhile, associate professor of the Russian State University for the Humanities Alexander Gushchin suggests that “the result of Zelensky is related to a high level of the protest voting, to those who are not only out of conceit with the authorities in power, but also are seeking to restart the political system in Ukraine.” “That votership is leery of acting politicians. Zelensky managed to accumulate both the Ukrainian-speaking constituency of the west and the center and pretty much attract Russian-speaking voters in the first round, meaning that he managed to create the type of consensus that was hardly in evidence earlier in Ukraine. Zelensky’s result is prominent, suggesting a high possibility that he can strive for winning in the second round.
Several factors are in his favor: first, the majority of protest-spirited voters will nonetheless vote for Zelensky. Second, partially the robber-baron consensus and the absolute reluctance of an array of persons, first of all Kolomoisky, to see Poroshenko as President, are in his favor as well. Third, Poroshenko has taken advantage of the best part of his votership, while Zelensky has additional opportunities due to other candidates’ voters. However, on the negative side, Zelensky has not shown his full worth, he preferred to keep mum on various issues due to inexperience, whereas when he did make statements they left heads spinning. Up to the present day, many do not have a clue that this west-east game is very complicated, and Poroshenko will be putting the shoulder to the wheel to draw Zelensky to the debate to reveal his incompetence. The current task of Zelensky is to keep the image of a person who speaks little, though concurrently uses non-traditional tools such as social networks and the like, and then he has chances. If however some dirty laundry is aired against him, or he makes failed statements, while part of southeastern voters stay away from polling stations, Poroshenko’s chances will go up in the south-east in case of poor voter turnout,” he suggests.
Speaking about Moscow’s reaction to the result of the election, the observer noted that “as of now there are no grounds for declaring the election invalid.” “Judging by yesterday’s violations, they do not appear to have had a serious impact,” he said.
Alexey Bychkov shares the view. “At the state level, Russia is most likely to acknowledge the legitimacy of the election’s result from the viewpoint of future dialogue, despite the refusal to register Russian observers,” the expert believes.