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After the elections on Sunday, the actor and comedian Vladimir Zelenski is the new president of Ukraine
Vladimir Zelenski may not have the same political experience as his opponents. However, the Ukrainians showed at the polls that this was not important. In the first round, he faced Petro Poroshenko, who is close to finishing his term and who obtained 17.8% of the votes; also with "the Ukrainian iron lady", Yulia Tymoshenko who achieved 14.2% of the votes, while Zelenski secured the second round with 30.4%, as stated by the BBC.
Leer en español: Ucrania: la comedia llega a la presidencia
He won last 21 April when the Ukrainians returned to the polls to finally choose the new president, who will be in power for five years. At six o'clock in the afternoon, the overwhelming number with which Zelenski obtained the power was known. With 73.2%, the actor and comedian swept the elections; while his opponent, Petro Poroshenko obtained 25.3%.
Zelenski gana. Los sondeos a pie de urna dan la victoria al cómico sin experiencia política para liderar Ucrania. Y según este sondeo no sólo gana; arrasa pic.twitter.com/67G0X0D5M1— (@mrsahuquillo) 21 de abril de 2019
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From television to reality
Coincidence or not, for three seasons he represented the president of Ukraine in the popular series "Servant of the People", in which he plays a history professor who comes to power after a video where he expressed the discontent of the situation of the country, goes viral on the internet.
Both the series and his character managed to become popular throughout the country. According to El Periódico, the series "has reproduced the frustrations of so many Ukrainians who have seen how corruption and war have sunk expectations of modernizing the country". In this way, the popularity of Zelenski managed to position him very early as the favorite candidate. Unlike many countries, his inexperience in politics was not a problem for the Ukrainians, who, tired of a political system that does not work, decided to bet on the candidate who still doesn't have a clear program.
However, for many political analysts, the Ukrainians did not actually vote for Zelenski, but for Vasili Goloborodko, the character they see on television. For the political scientist Vladímir Fesenk, in dialogue with EFE, "the Ukrainians do not support the character as much as the plot of the series. They see it every week for several years. They voted for a person outside the system to be president and try to change Ukrainian politics from within".
With the above, it is expected that its popularity bubble will explode when it has to face important issues that overwhelm the country: the annexation of Crimea by Russia, inflation, the war of Donbas, among others, as these will be the key points where the astuteness of the new president will be proved, who has affirmed not to be a politician but, "a simple person, result of the errors and the unfulfilled promises of Poroshenko. I come to break the system", he said, according to El País.
The victory and the referendum
In addition to the influence of his character, the bad decisions of the current government led by Petro Poroshenko were a key factor for the radical change in one of the poorest countries in Europe. Despite the fact that "he carried out structural reforms, he achieved external financing and also economic stability. He raised pensions slightly, he set up a system of free choice for doctors and satisfied the banks and the lenders the citizens are not so happy", according to the same media.
That's why this year's elections were so important. In them, the Ukrainians could express their discontent at the polls and as if it were a referendum, oppose the possible second term of Poroshenko. It can also be added to the success of Zelenski, the simple fact that because Russian is his first language, the Russian speakers will support him, having the support of those who "never forgave Poroshenko's nationalist turn", according to La Vanguardia, which tries to turn towards Europe and distance itself from Russian influence.
The main challenges
As mentioned before, both the economy and the Donbas war will be the main challenges for this new president. Since 2014, in the east of the country, more than 13,000 people have died, according to official figures of the UN, product of the conflict initiated by "a military unit commanded by the Russian officer Igor Strelkov", where the city was taken Ukrainian, Slaviansk, and what caused the "pro-Russian uprising", according to El Diario.
As a result, thousands of Ukrainians living in the city have chosen to go to Russia, through the humanitarian corridor because "they have fought against the Ukrainian army or prefer to look for work in that country," the same means. Faced with this fact, Zelenski has stated that he does not intend to recover the territory by force since for him human life prevails more.
In this way, Zelenski comes to the presidency in a country where the Ukrainian and Russian division prevails throughout the country. Cultural issues such as supporting the spread of the Ukrainian tradition, but opposing the prohibition of Russian will be fine ice for a country, in which still, Russia's geostrategic presence is present.
LatinAmerican Post | Laura Viviana Guevara Muñoz
Translated from "Ucrania: la comedia llega a la presidencia"