Ukraine holds snap parliament election

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy could get a stronger mandate in a snap poll.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy could get a stronger mandate in a snap poll.

Ukrainians will vote in a snap parliamentary election that could consolidate the power of new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and hand the novice politician a stronger mandate for driving change in the war-scarred nation.

A comedian with no prior policymaking experience, Zelenskiy caused a political earthquake by winning a landslide presidential election victory in April. He cast himself as an everyman outsider who would tackle corruption and raise living standards in one of Europe's poorest countries.

Zelenskiy's Servant of the People party, named after the TV comedy where he played a fictional president, has consistently led the opinion polls for the parliamentary vote but might fall short of a majority.

At present, the 41-year-old leader shares power with a cabinet and lawmakers who are mostly loyal to his predecessor.

Whoever wins Sunday's election will inherit a country at the centre of the West's standoff with Moscow following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014 and its role in a separatist conflict in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine that has killed 13,000 people in the past five years.

The new government will also need to implement reforms agreed with international donors in order to secure billions of dollars of new loans to keep the economy stable. Zelenskiy announced a snap election on the day he was inaugurated in May.

"By calling an early election, the new president hoped to keep the momentum of his presidential victory going. He is backed in this attempt by a majority of Ukrainians who view parliament as inherently corrupt and have given Mr Zelenskiy a mandate to 'clean up' the political class," said Agnese Ortolani of the Economist Intelligence Unit.

"We expect Mr Zelenskiy to be given a broad mandate from the Ukrainian people to move forwards with the set of ambitious reforms that he laid out in the first weeks of his presidency."

Australian Associated Press