Political Comedy in Ukraine: New President Announces Snap Election & Change in Course

Written by | Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

During his inauguration on Monday, new Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy dissolved the parliament and announced a snap parliamentary election. As his party has no representation in parliament, the aim is to win seats in the legislative body while he remains highly popular. The comedian won presidential elections with landslide support of more than 70% of the vote, yet the parliament remains occupied by loyalists of his predecessor Poroshenko.

Zelenskiy has no previous experience with politics and his win is often attributed to his focus on difference and strong anti-corruption stance rather than on a concrete ideological position. Therefore, he called on a team of experts that would advise him during his stay in the office. However, without the ability to pass reforms in parliament, he will be unable to deliver on his promises. Parliamentary elections were originally expected to take place in October 2019 but the new date is set in less than two months. In the meantime, the new president asked parliament to pass a law limiting MPs’ immunity from prosecution as well as their ability to enrich themselves. “You will have two months for this. Do it and you will deserve medals,” said Zelenskiy.

Although not much is known about his policy ideas, the former comedian claimed his priority is to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine. In this respect, the main task is the return of Ukrainian territory and prisoners of war. It is quite telling that Russian president Vladimir Putin is said to refused to congratulate his newly elected counterpart and he is willing to do so only if Zelenskiy makes progress in settling the conflict with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and mending relations with Russia.

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