Comic rumored to be Jewish heads to runoff for Ukraine presidency

Exit polls give political novice Volodymyr Zelensky 30.4% of vote, a wide margin over incumbent Petro Poroshenko with just 17.8%

31 March 2019

Comedian and political novice Volodymyr Zelensky topped the first round of Ukraine’s presidential election on Sunday, exit polls showed, leading incumbent Petro Poroshenko into a run-off.

Zelensky’s political experience had been limited to playing the president in a TV show, but his long-shot bid won over voters frustrated with endemic corruption and a stalling economy.

“This is just a first step towards a great victory,” the high-spirited 41-year-old told supporters at his campaign headquarters minutes after the exit polls were released. “We’re not relaxing.”

At a voting station earlier in the day he had promised a Ukraine “without corruption, without bribes.”

The entertainer was projected to garner 30.4 percent of the vote, handily beating Poroshenko on 17.8%, according to combined figures from three pollsters.