Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky was the landslide winner in Ukraine’s presidential election Sunday.
Zelensky, a 41-year-old TV star with no political track record, won 73 percent of the vote in the runoff election, according to national exit poll results broadcast by Ukrainian television. President Petro Poroshenko, who was running for his second five-year term, received just 25 percent, according to the poll.
“To all Ukrainians, no matter where you are, I promise that I will never let you down,” Zelensky said after the results came in. “Though I’m still not president, I can say as a Ukrainian citizen to all the countries of the former Soviet Union: Look at us. Everything is possible.”
The comedian had been heavily favored going into the election. Zelensky’s experience in politics amounts to playing the Ukrainian president on a popular sitcom. On his sitcom, Zelensky plays a simple, morally upright schoolteacher who is elected president after his rant of outrage over corruption is caught on camera and goes viral. He then takes on Ukraine’s entrenched business and political elites, refusing to be bought. The third season of Zelensky’s show, “Servant of the People,” aired this spring and includes scenes of a prosperous, corruption-free Ukraine in the aftermath of the Zelensky character’s presidency.
“I’m not a politician,” Zelensky said in Friday’s debate, channeling his character in his show. “I’m just a simple person who came to break the system.”
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