Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, center, reacts with his team as they look at the election results at his party's headquarters after a parliamentary election in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2019. Zelenskiy's party took the largest share of votes in the country's snap parliamentary election, an exit poll showed Sunday. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Ukrainian leader's party heading for parliamentary majority

July 22, 2019 - 5:56 am

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian president's party on Monday was heading for an absolute majority in parliament after a snap election, which would hand Volodymyr Zelenskiy a much-anticipated mandate for change.

If confirmed, the Servant of the People will become the first party in Ukraine's modern history to form an absolute parliamentary majority.

Zelenskiy, a popular television comedian who was elected president in April, pushed for the snap parliamentary vote, arguing that the current parliament dominated by allies of former President Petro Poroshenko is hampering his efforts for a radical change in Ukraine.

The parliament earlier this year didn't let Zelenskiy appoint key Cabinet ministers or fire tainted officials such as the prosecutor general.

Sunday's landslide win at the polls gives the 41-year-old Zelenskiy a rare mandate to fight Ukraine's endemic corruption, try to bring peace to the separatist controlled east and fix the country's stagnant economy even without spending time or effort on forging a coalition with other political players.

Servant of the People leader Dmytro Razumkov told reporters Monday morning that the party's strong showing both on the party rolls and in single-mandate districts means that it probably would not have to form a coalition with another party.

The next few months are likely to be crucial for Zelenskiy and Servant of the People, the party which was named after the television comedy in which he played a school teacher who unexpectedly becomes the Ukrainian president. The president and the party will likely have a free hand in appointing top officials and adopting legislation. On the other hand, Zelenskiy will have no political rivals strong enough to blame possible failures on.

Four other parties were seen clearing the 5% threshold necessary to get party-list seats, according to early results.

A party led by one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest associates, Ukrainian tycoon Viktor Medvedchuk, was in second place with 13% of the vote. It was followed by the European Solidarity party of Poroshenko, whom Zelenskiy defeated in a landslide in the country's spring presidential election.

With more than a half of the ballots counted Monday, the Servant of the People is projected to win 42.4% of the vote. In addition, results from single-mandate constituencies, in which voters cast ballots for individuals, not parties, also show Zelenskiy's allies winning in at least 125 of the 199 districts, meaning that Servant of the People is projected to win an outright majority of seats at the Supreme Rada.

Of the 424 seats in the Ukrainian parliament, 225 lawmakers are elected on party rolls and 199 in single-mandate districts.

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Nataliya Vasilyeva reported from Moscow.

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