Ukraine expected to elect populist Zelenskiy to presidency in rebuke to Poroshenko

Ukraine expected to elect populist Zelenskiy to presidency in rebuke to Poroshenko

Ukraine elects its next president today. Following an inconclusive first round result, incumbent President Petro Poroshenko is competing against populist

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Photo: Reuters

Ukraine elects its next president today. Following an inconclusive first round result, incumbent President Petro Poroshenko is competing against populist Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Mr Zelenskiy is favoured to win in a landslide today after winning over 30% of the first-round vote; Mr Poroshenko won around 15%. Poroshenko is running on closer ties with Europe and NATO, as well as a promise to regain control of the country’s eastern regions that are currently held by separatists. However, it appears that Ukrainians have grown tired of more than four years of conflict and little improvement in economic conditions. Zelenskiy’s popularity has grown despite having ambiguous and undefined policy goals and an unwillingness to work with the country’s pro-Russian opposition.

However, Zelenskiy’s lack of political experience has raised concerns in Europe, whom fear that his harsh rhetoric against Russia and unwillingness to compromise will escalate tensions. Strong rhetoric is unlikely to bring peace due to Moscow’s strong influence over separatist forces and a political savvy that is unlikely to be matched by Zelenskiy.

Zelenskiy’s election is therefore expected to bring new challenges from Moscow. If he wishes to pursue peace, Ukraine could be expected to ease its aspirations to strengthen ties with the European Union and NATO and cede to Russia’s demands over gas pricing and transit fees.

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