The actor and comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy with no political experience other than playing the role of president in a TV series, has won a massive and landslide victory in Ukraine’s presidential election.
As per the latest count, the near-complete counting showing he has won over 70% of the vote versus his competitor in the country’s highest post.
The incumbent president, Petro Poroshenko conceded defeat on Sunday evening before results started coming in.
According to official results released on Monday morning, with 85% of the vote counted, 41-year-old Zelenskiy had won 73.4% of the vote, compared to Poroshenko’s 24.4%.
“I’m leaving office, but I want to make it clear that I’m not leaving politics,” said Poroshenko, acknowledging his failure to win a second term. “I will accept the will of the Ukrainian people,” he wrote on Twitter.
Zelenskiy appeared in front of a crowd of journalists at his campaign headquarters as the polls closed and flashed an impish grin as he pushed his way on to the stage, accompanied by the theme tune to his television show.
“We did it together,” he said, thanking his wife, parents and campaign team.
“Thanks to all the Ukrainian citizens who voted for me, and to all who didn’t. I promise I won’t mess up.”
The Zelenskiy camp said he had taken phone calls of congratulation from US president Donald Trump and French president Emmanuel Macron, among others.
Zelenskiy will take charge of a country facing numerous challenges, including a struggling economy and an ongoing war against Russia-backed separatist forces in the east that has claimed more than 13,000 lives.
The president-elect is best known for his role in the long-running Ukrainian television series Servant of the People, where he played a teacher unexpectedly elected to the presidency after an angry rant about corruption is posted online by his students.
It can be recalled that during the campaign, he offered little information about his policies or plans for the presidency, relying on viral videos, standup comedy gigs and jokes in place of traditional campaigning.