Six “Firsts” You May Have Missed From Ukraine’s Presidential Election
30 April, 2019
Ukrainian Presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky (R) and his wife, Olena Zelenska, (L) reacting at the briefing after the announcement of exit-poll during the Ukrainian presidential elections in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 21, 2019. EPA-EFE/TATYANA ZENKOVICH
It’s difficult to predict whether or not Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s victory in the presidential elections will lead to a significant renewal of the country. But Ukraine’s political record and election campaign methods have already undergone a substantial change. After a dynamic two-rounds of campaigning and voting, Hromadske breaks down six “firsts” you may have missed from Ukraine’s 2019 election.

1. For the first time, Ukraine has chosen a president who has no experience in politics or public office.

Prior to the 2019 elections, former high-ranking officials and professional politicians became president of Ukraine. The country’s first president after independence, Leonid Kravchuk, previously headed the Verkhovna Rada. In 1994, he was replaced by Leonid Kuchma, who had already served as prime minister. After that, Viktor Yushchenko – who was also head of Government and the former leader of the National Bank – led the country until 2005. Viktor Yanukovych also passed through the premiership before being elected president, having headed the Donetsk Regional State Administration. And Petro Poroshenko formerly headed the Ministry of Economic Development and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

2. Volodymyr Zelenskiy becomes Ukraine’s first 41-year-old president.

Before president-elect Zelenskiy, Ukraine’s youngest president was his predecessor, Petro Poroshenko. He took office at 49 years old. Viktor Yushchenko became president at 51, Leonid Kuchma when he turned 56, and Leonid Kravchuk at 57. The oldest president so far has been Viktor Yanukovych, who was 60-years-old at the time of his inauguration.

READ MORE: Zelenskiy Gains Comfortable Victory in Ukraine Presidential Election

3. The first time a Ukrainian presidential candidate won by the stunning margin of almost 49%.

Petro Poroshenko set the previous margin record, beating Yuliya Tymoshenko in 2014 by 42%


4. For the first time in Ukraine’s political history, presidential candidates held election debates in a stadium.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy initiated the unusual debate format, who challenged Petro Poroshenko by sending him a video message. After lengthy negotiations, the debate finally took place at Kyiv’s Olympiskiy stadium on April 19, as 22 thousand people watched from the stands.

5. Ukraine’s presidential candidates underwent medical analysis for the first time. And what’s more, it was practically live streamed.

Petro Poroshenko passed medical tests at the Olympiskiy Stadium medical center and then again with specialists at the international anti-doping association VADA. Volodymyr Zelenskiy had testing done at the Eurolab clinic, which belongs to his Studio Kvartal-95 business partner, Andriy Palchevskiy.

READ MORE: Investigation Reveals Zelenskiy's Alleged Movers and Shakers​

6. For the first time, the future president of Ukraine gave journalists an interview after losing at table tennis.

During the first round of voting, a ping-pong tournament was organized at Zelenskiy’s campaign headquarters. Before a game against Zelenskiy, a correspondent for RBC-Ukraine challenged the then presidential candidate to give him an interview if he lost. Zelenskiy lost and kept his word.

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