May 24, 2019
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Ukrainians vote for president in run-off between incumbent, comedian

Kiev, Apr 21 (EFE).- Ukrainians on Sunday headed to the polls in a run-off election to vote for their new president.

The country’s nearly 31 million eligible voters had the chance to choose between incumbent president Petro Poroshenko and comedian Volodymyr Zelensky, at 30,000 polling stations.

Zelensky, who plays a fictional head of state in a popular television show, won 30 percent of the votes in the first round on Mar. 31, while Poroshenko gained 16 percent.

Recent opinion polls forecast the comedian-turned-politician widely winning the second round of the presidential elections with 60-70 percent of the votes, compared to the 25-30 percent Poroshenko would get.

Meanwhile, 20 percent were undecided voters.

Volodymyr Fesenko, a political analyst, told Efe that even with a large number of undecided voters, a miracle would be needed to change the outcome in favor of the current leader.

Most of Zelensky's voters do not support the 41-year-old actor, who has no political experience, as much as they would like to oust Poroshenko, who has been in office since 2014.

Ukraine’s election commission is planning to release the preliminary results first thing on Monday morning.

Polling stations opened in Ukraine just two days after the president and his main rival wrapped up their campaigns with a heated debate at a soccer stadium in Kiev.

More than 20,000 people attended the debate, during which Poroshenko's supporters kept booing Zelensky every time he spoke.

Zelensky opened the debate by saying he had voted for Poroshenko, led by his promise of a better life, but that actually people were now struggling to survive.

The debate ultimately descended into a dogfight, with both leaders exchanging low blows, leaving the impression that Poroshenko came out the winner, due to his larger experience as an orator and the fact that the majority of the spectators were his followers.

Around 2,300 international observers from 17 countries were deployed to monitor the elections in Ukraine.

Some five million residents in the breakaway regions of the former Soviet republic's east, Donetsk and Luhansk, will not be able to exercise their right to vote. EFE

nvc-cae/sm/rb

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