President Petro Poroshenko’s political bloc, along with other pro-Europe forces, are decively leading in Sunday’s parliamentary election in Ukraine, an exit poll showed.
National Exit Poll numbers put the pro-Western leader’s bloc at 23 percent of votes cast on party lists, his prime minister’s People’s Front at 21.3 percent and a like-minded party, Self-reliance, at 13.2 percent.
The Opposition Bloc, made up mostly of members of the now defunct Party of Regions of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych garnered 7.6 percent, poll numbers showed.
The Communist Party, which had been a fixture in Ukraine’s legislature since independence in 1991, will for the first time not be represented. According to the poll, it garnered less than three percent of votes. Five percent are needed to qualify for representation in parliament.
The numbers should be enough to give Poroshenko a strong mandate to pursue a plan to end a separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine and carry out democratic reforms.
Speaking after he cast his vote in Kyiv, Poroshenko said he was confident Ukrainians would choose a pro-Europe future.
“I’m not hoping, I’m absolutely sure that after this parliamentary election, after this form of support of pro-European forces including the presidential force, we will have a big, almost constitutional majority of the pro-European coalition. I think that this would be a victory of democracy, victory of European Ukraine,” said Poroshenko.
Although some 36 million Ukrainian citizens were registered to vote, millions in rebel-held areas in the east, and the Russia-annexed Crimean peninsula, were unable to cast ballots.
Poll numbers, indicating strong popular support for democratic and economic reforms, are likely to further strain Ukraine’s relations with Russia, which sees Ukraine’s pro-Western course as clashing with its own interest.
More than 3,700 people have died as a result of the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine, widely seen as having been instigated and supported by Russia as part of efforts to destabilize Ukraine. Moscow denies the charge.