Sat, 24 Aug 2019

KYIV -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's party, Servant of the People, is on course to win a majority in the new parliament, after some 44 percent of votes have been counted, according to data from the Central Election Commission.

The comedian-turned-president's party was in the lead in around 120 out of 199 constituencies in Ukraine, the data showed at 9:15 a.m. local time.

Zelenskiy's party also won a majority on the party lists with 42 percent of vote, according to preliminary results, well ahead of its nearest rival of just over 12 percent.

If the result stands, it would be the first time in Ukraine's post-independence history that a party obtains a majority in the parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.

Under Ukraine's mixed election system, half the Rada's seats are determined by votes on party lists and the rest are first-past-the-post races in local constituencies.

The preliminary results echo the findings by a Western-funded exit poll, which predicted Servant of the People was on track to win 44 percent of the July 21 vote for party lists, according to exit polls as of 8 p.m. local time.

Voter turnout was nearly 50 percent, the Opora election watchdog said.

The strong result for Servant of the People, which was formed just a few months ago, underscores Ukrainians' desire for a break with established politicians and parties that have failed to improve living standards enough. It also gives Zelenskiy -- who won the presidency in April in a landslide victory -- more power in choosing outsiders to occupy key government positions.

'This is not only great trust, this is also a great responsibility, especially for me and our team. We will not betray Ukrainians," Zelenskiy told supporters at his headquarters shortly after the polls closed on July 21.

Zelenskiy also told supporters that one of his main priorities will be "to defeat the corruption that continues to persist in Ukraine.'

Graft has for years stifled economic growth in the Eastern European country.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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