Little enthusiasm on display for either candidate in final round of presidential contest
Voting is under way in the final round of Ukraines presidential election, where pre-vote polling suggests the most likely winner will be Volodymyr Zelenskiy, an actor and comedian with no political experience except for playing the president in a TV series.
Zelenskiy, 41, voted in Kyiv on Sunday morning, stopping to tell reporters his wife had played him an Eminem song before he came to cast his ballot, to put him in a good mood. He predicted the vote would result in victory for the Ukrainian people, adding: We have united the country.
After winning the first round three weeks ago, Zelenskiy entered a run-off with the incumbent, Petro Poroshenko, who finished in second place. Polling stations across the country, from the Carpathian mountains in the west to the war-torn Donbass region in the east of the country, opened on Sunday morning.
Zelenskiy has offered little information about his policies or plans for the presidency, relying on viral videos, standup comedy gigs and jokes in place of campaigning. However, dissatisfaction with Poroshenko, who came to office five years ago after the Maidan revolution, is running high and most polls have given Zelenskiy a commanding lead.
A survey by the pollster Rating this week showed Zelensky on 73% and Poroshenko languishing on 27%.
The two candidates faced off in a chaotic televised debate at Kyivs Olympic stadium on Friday evening, but the spectacle does not appear to have changed many minds.
My nephew has been on the frontline in Donbass; what kind of country would put a clown in charge of its armed forces during a war? asked Tetiana Hrytsenko, 61, who said she cast her ballot for Poroshenko on Sunday morning at a central Kyiv polling station. A group of young people emerging from the same polling station said they had all voted for Zelenskiy.
There was little enthusiasm on display for either candidate, with most voters opting for the candidate they considered least problematic. Poroshenko voters tended to be worried about Zelenskiys lack of experience and potentially more amenable attitude towards Russia, while Zelenskiy voters insisted Poroshenkos first term had been a failure and he did not deserve another chance.
Its like when you go to a cheap supermarket and all of the fruit is rotten, and you rummage around to find the least rotten piece, said Anna, 32, an office manager who said she had waited hours in line to register for voting papers, but on Sunday morning had still not decided which candidate she would vote for.
Zelenskiy is best known for playing an ordinary teacher who is unexpectedly elected to the presidency after an angry rant about corruption was posted online by his students, in a long-running Ukrainian television series.
His campaign has blurred the lines between the real-life Zelenskiy and his on-screen character, but some are concerned that for all his anti-system rhetoric, Zelenskiy has close links to the oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskiy.
Zelenskiy has denied he is a Kolomoyskiy puppet and said combating corruption would be among his top priorities as president.
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