On Sunday, April 21, Ukraine has elected a new president with 72% of voters voting for Mr Volodymyr Zelensky, who has no prior political experience. Denys Kolesnyk has participated in “Le Carrefour de l’info” at French TV channel CNews to discuss such significant result and possible consequences for Ukraine’s future.
Denys highlighted a few factors that influenced the results of the presidential election, especially in terms of such high results that Mr Zelensky obtained. There is a high demand within the Ukrainian society for the renewal of the political system, and the absence of political record played in favour of Zelensky. His team developed and implemented a successful communication strategy, allowing Volodymyr Zelensky to accommodate every Ukrainian’s preferences, no matter the region, language or other particularities. However, different undoable promises will, eventually, create him some problems in the future.
Mr Kolesnyk also noted, that around 40% of votes received by Zelenskiy are the so-called “protest vote,” meaning that the majority of Ukrainians voted not in favour of Zelenskiy but against current president Petro Poroshenko.
It is surprising that such a significant difference in votes between candidate was recorded only once in 1991 when Leonid Kravchuk got around 61% while his opponent Vyacheslav Chornovil obtained only 23%.
Answering to a question regarding how a Jewish and Russian-speaking candidate could win in a country where are issues related to antisemitism and a refusal to the Russian language, Denys noted that the language issue is an artificial and externally imposed issue. There is less antisemitism in Ukraine compared to other European states, and Zelensky’s victory is a clear proof of it.
Speaking of Russia’s preferences in Ukraine’s elections, it noticeable that for Kremlin, every candidate is as a better option than the current president. In particular, Moscow sees that there is no way to convince Mr Poroshenko to make concessions, which means a stalemate and no progress under the scenario favourable for Russia.
Mr Kolesnyk stressed that it is in Zelensky’s interests to have the legislative elections as soon as possible since he can capitalize on his support to obtain a majority in the parliament. But the scenario of early elections is highly unlikely. Since Ukraine is a semi-presidential republic, the president is quite limited in his powers. In addition to that, it will mean that until October 2019 there will be a “cohabitation,” in other words, the president will perform his duties without a majority in the parliament and will have to work with the current “inherited” government.
Denys Kolesnyk also noted that importance of the peaceful transfer of power, especially for a country that fights a defensive war and previously belonged to the Soviet Union. And as we know, free and fair elections with a peaceful transfer of power is not common in the former Soviet states.
You might be interested in: Russia-Ukraine Kerch strait tensions