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Comedian wins first round of Ukrainian election - exit poll

logo de Sky News Sky News 31-03-19 Sharon Marris, news reporter

a man wearing a suit and tie: Comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy has won the first round of the Ukrainian election, exit polls show © Reuters Comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy has won the first round of the Ukrainian election, exit polls show Comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who plays a fictional TV president, has won the first round of Ukraine's election, according to an exit poll.

The comedian's 30.4% of the vote is short of a majority but it was enough to beat the next best candidate - incumbent President Petro Poroshenko, who got 17.8%.

Former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko received 14.2% support.

With none getting more than half of the votes, the election is likely to go to a second round on 21 April, where Ukrainians will choose between the top two candidates.

Petro Poroshenko standing in front of a building: Incumbent Petro Poroshenko could only manage second place, according to the exit poll © Getty Incumbent Petro Poroshenko could only manage second place, according to the exit poll

The three were among 39 candidates in a country that faces issues including widespread corruption, a faltering economy and a seemingly endless war with Russian-backed separatists in the country's east.

Ukraine is also subject to a bailout programme run by the International Monetary Fund and investors will want to know that any new president will continue reforms required to keep this on track.

a group of people around a table: Police said they received more than 1,600 complaints of violations on voting day © Reuters Police said they received more than 1,600 complaints of violations on voting day

Mr Zelenskiy, 41, is new to politics but found fame on TV playing a teacher who becomes president after a video of him denouncing corruption goes viral.

During his presidential campaign, Mr Zelenskiy said he wanted to develop the economy and attract investment through "a restart of the judicial system".

He also proposed a tax amnesty and a 5% flat tax for big business which could be increased "in dialogue with them and if everyone will agree".

As he cast his own vote on Sunday, Mr Zelenskiy said: "A new life is beginning, a normal life, a life without corruption, without bribes - life in a new country, the country of our dreams."

a man standing in front of a building: Presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko says she might contest the result © Getty Presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko says she might contest the result

Later, he denied he would join forces with any of the other candidates, saying: "We are young people - we don't want to see all of the past in our future."

However, the election's first round was marred by more than 1,600 complaints about unauthorised campaigning at polling stations, attempts to bribe voters and the removal of ballot papers.

Incumbent Mr Poroshenko insisted the elections were fair, adding that this was "a necessary condition for our movement forward, to Ukraine's return to the European family of nations".

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Regarding the exit poll result, he said: "I critically and soberly understand the signal that society gave today to the acting authorities."

Ms Tymoshenko said the exit poll contradicted her own internal polling, which had her in second place, adding that she might contest the final result.

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