Since gaining independence in 1991, not a single president and not a single party in Ukraine has been able to win the elections as convincingly as Volodymyr Zelensky and his Servant of the People party, which literally came out of nowhere.
On Monday morning, when about 30% of the ballots were processed, the presidential party gained almost 42%. Thus, it was still missing 2% to achieve 44%, which it was supposed to get (according to projections sounded on Sunday evening).
Pro-Russian oppositional Opposition Platform - For Life party, which was supported by almost 13% of voters, came the second. According to the party leader, the elections would facilitate the return of Ukraine, exhausted by the crisis, to normal, peaceful development. The third place as a result of the voting was taken by the European Solidarity party of former president Petro Poroshenko, which received 8% of the vote (the article was published before Tymoshenko’s Batkivschyna scored better than European Solidarity, - ed.).
Former comedian and political newcomer Zelensky won in April in the second round of the presidential election, more than 70% of Ukrainians voted for him. At the same time, however, he did not have support in the parliament. Now the situation has changed.
In Ukraine, two trends are clearly visible, taking place also in other European countries. Firstly, the parties, formed on the basis of social movements, aspire to power, and often they are headed by people who have not yet had any relation to politics.
For example, it happened in Slovakia, where in June Zuzana Čaputová, who until recently has been heading the anti-corruption movement, was elected president.
The second European trend, in which the Servant of the People fits, is about rhetoric directed against the leading elites. At the same time, Ukraine’s political system is experiencing the deepest crisis than anywhere else on the whole continent.
It even got to the point that other parties tried to copy the Servant of the People, that is, the politicians understood that the Ukrainians want to start literally from scratch. But the majority of citizens did not vote for imitators, but for the original force – the protest party of Zelensky.
Unlike too many populist parties in Europe, Zelensky and his party do not rely on any particular category of citizens, thus splitting up society. On the contrary, they appeal to the most diverse strata of society. However, this is exactly where the danger lies, not only for Ukraine but also for the whole of Europe.
Because even though Zelensky’s supporters are pro-European for the most part, many Ukrainians voted for the Servant of the People in the hope of change, in particular, a new rapprochement with Russia. In addition, a significant portion of these people is terribly tired of the war in the east of the country.
And the president will probably take this into account in his policy. If he refuses the consistent position of his predecessor, Petro Poroshenko, and agrees to compromise with the Kremlin, this will be a problem for the whole of Europe.
Because it would be a clear signal that forcible transfer of borders in Europe can be a success. In this case, Vladimir Putin would feel inspired and could well continue to rely on the movement along the escalation spiral.
The fact that Russia is leading a war in Ukraine puts the Servant of the People in a position in which no protest party is in all of Europe, and that is why these election results are so important for all Europeans.