Comedian Volodymyr Zelenskyi leading in Ukrainian presidential polls


Comedian Volodymyr Zelenskyi leading in Ukrainian presidential polls

Jason Melanovski and Clara Weiss

8 March 2019

Some three weeks ahead of the first round of the Ukrainian presidential elections on March 31, the most recent polling of voters in Ukraine reveals that actor-comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy is now leading a crowded field of 44 presidential candidates.

According to the Rating polling agency, 25.1 percent of potential voters support Zelenskiy. The second place is almost evenly split between current President Petro Poroshenko and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko who both received support from just over 16 percent of those polled.

As none of the candidates are expected to garner an outright majority to win the first round, a second runoff round between the top two candidates will almost certainly be held in May.

Reflecting widespread disillusionment with the country’s official politics, 31.9 percent of respondents said they did not plan to participate in the elections at all.

Prior to his entrance into politics, leading candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy had worked his way through a series of Ukrainian popular television shows to become one of the country’s most famous media figures, hosting his own programs and producing shows and movies for viewing in both Ukraine and Russia. Foreshadowing his current political campaign, in 2015 Zelenskiy appeared in a TV series called “Servant of the People” in which he portrayed a high school history teacher who unexpectedly becomes president of Ukraine after a viral video spreads showing him criticizing corruption in the country.

That a popular entertainment figure such as Zelenskiy has become the frontrunner, is indicative of the advanced political and social crisis in the country. The political establishment, which…

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