Ukraine's comedian President looks to rock star for coalition

Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Sviatoslav Vakarchuk.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Sviatoslav Vakarchuk. Photo credit: Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's party took a commanding lead in Sunday's snap parliamentary election, handing the novice politician a broader mandate for driving change and tackling corruption the war-scarred nation.

A TV comedian with no prior policymaking experience, Zelenskiy won a landslide victory in a presidential ballot in April, having cast himself as an everyman outsider who would tackle corruption and raise living standards in one of Europe's poorest countries.

The 41-year-old has had to deal with a cabinet and lawmakers who are mostly loyal to his predecessor Petro Poroshenko, prompting him to call a snap election to consolidate his power.

Exit polls showed his Servant of the People Party far ahead of its nearest challenger, although it may fall short of a majority.

A triumphant Zelenskiy said he would invite the staunchly pro-Western Voice party, led by rock star Sviatoslav Vakarchuk, for coalition talks. Vakarchuk’s party said it was open to an alliance with new political forces so long as they were not backed by oligarchs