Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelensky has won a landslide victory in the nation’s presidential elections, after playing a man who accidentally becomes president in a 2015 television show. Huh!
Zelensky, 41, challenged incumbent president Petro Poroshenko, who has now conceded defeat. In the final round of voting, Zelensky swept over 70% of the vote.
The comedian starred in the wildly popular show Servant of the People, in which a high school history teacher becomes President of Ukraine after his rant against government corruption goes viral.
“I will never let you down,” Zelensky told his supporters after his victory was clear.
I’m not yet officially the president. But as a citizen of Ukraine I can say to all countries in the post-Soviet Union: Look at us. Anything is possible!
The president-elect’s victory is being widely attributed to a massive protest vote. Poroshenko, a strongly anti-Russia billionaire oligarch, has been booted despite Zelensky running on a platform light on concrete policy ideas.
Zelensky’s political party – also named Servant of the People – puts forward a broadly populist, anti-corruption platform which advocates stronger ties to Europe.
Much of the politics of Ukraine is tied up with the nation’s relationship with Russia – which invaded and annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014. Critics of Zelensky contend that his lack of political experience will make it difficult for him to push back against Russia.
But most importantly: a comedian is president now. Gotta respect it!