Ukrainian presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy reacts during presidential elections at a polling station in Kyiv, Ukraine, 21 April 2019. Photo: EPA-EFE/ZOYA SHU
Exit surveys in the final round of the Ukrainian presidential election suggest candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy wins against incumbent President Petro Poroshenko.
As of 8 p.m., Zelenskiy has received 73% of the votes–ahead of 25.5% for Poroshenko. 1.5% of respondents claimed to have spoiled their ballot papers. 14,561 people responded to the polling carried out by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation together with other sociological groups with the margin of error standing at no more than 2.5%.
Zelenskiy has responded to the results saying "we have done it together," thanked his family members and team, and joked that his Kvartal 95 television studio should now be renamed as "Kvartal 73."
"There will be no smugness now. I just want to say thank you: to my parents for their support and for getting through this, to my wife for her strength and stamina. If she had heard all that was said about me earlier, she wouldn't have married me," Zelenskiy said at his headquarters right after the announced exit poll results. "Thank you to the parents of my wife, my children, and my entire family. Thank you to our entire team, the entire headquarters, everyone. [Thank you] to the experts, the lawyers, the volunteers, the [election] observers, the call center. Thank you everyone!"
Zelenskiy proceeded to dedicate a "special thank you" to the cleaning personnel at the headquarters, "Ms. Oksana and Ms. Lyuba," who "cleaned up after all of the aforementioned people."
While incumbent Petro Poroshenko said he will call Zelenskiy to congratulate him. He also assured that despite conceding in the election, he is staying in politics.
Public surveys ahead of the election showed Poroshenko far behind insurgent challenger Zelenskiy, reflecting public dismay with dim economic prospects, entrenched corruption, and an ongoing battle against Moscow-backed forces in the country's east.
Zelenskiy, just 41, received twice as many votes as the incumbent in the first round vote in March. Politically inexperienced, he focused his campaign on uniting the traditionally divided country and focusing on a new future, tapping into longstanding public distrust of Ukraine's political elites.
Poroshenko, called “Candy King” by some for his extensive holdings in the country’s confectionary industry, has prioritized traditional forms of political campaigning. He mostly ran on the same themes he made in 2014 – to decisively bring Ukraine into the EU and NATO.
Zelenskiy avoided classic campaign rallies and avoided interviews. He campaigned mainly on Facebook and Instagram, where he has millions of active followers.