Ukraine presidential election expected to result in run-off between frontrunners

Ukraine presidential election expected to result in run-off between frontrunners

The first round of the Ukrainian presidential election will be held today, where incumbent President Petro Poroshenko’s strongest of 39

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Photo: Reuters

The first round of the Ukrainian presidential election will be held today, where incumbent President Petro Poroshenko’s strongest of 39 challengers are TV personality Volodymyr Zelensky and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Zelensky has led polling since December 2018 generally hovering on 25%, well ahead of Poroshenko and Tymoshenko on 17% and 18% respectively. Despite this, some analysts expect Zelensky’s vote to wane on election day given his main support base—younger and Russian-speaking voters—traditionally have low turnout rates.

Expect the election to go to a second-round of voting, scheduled for April 21, as no candidate is likely to get 50% of the vote to win outright.

If Poroshenko gets through to the run-off, his best chance of re-election is if he makes Ukrainian nationalism the key issue. This will suit his experience and his nationalist policies on Orthodox Church independence from Moscow and the promotion of the Ukrainian language.

However, if the election remains centred on corruption, Zelensky or Tymoshenko will be favoured over the incumbent. Should Zelensky defy analyst predictions and turnout his vote, polls suggest he is favourite to defeat either Poroshenko or Tymoshenko, given Zelensky’s name recognition as a celebrity television star, war-fatigue and mistrust of establishment politicians—where Tymoshenko is just as mistrusted as Poroshenko.

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