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Party of Ukraine's new president leads parliamentary vote race

Party of Ukraine's new president leads parliamentary vote race
FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy holds a news conference after meeting European Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels, Belgium, June 5, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo -
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Francois Lenoir(Reuters)
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KIEV (Reuters) – A party set up by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who took office in May, is the most popular political movement in the country, according to an opinion poll published on Wednesday ahead of a snap parliamentary election due on July 21.

The survey conducted by KIIS research institute from June 25 to July 7 showed Zelenskiy’s party, Servant of the People, had the support of 37.8% of people who said they would vote.

In a previous poll, done in a period of May 26 – June 7, Zelenskiy’s party got 34.4%.

A good showing next month would cement the former television comedian’s meteoric rise to upend Ukrainian politics.

The outgoing parliament, dismissed by Zelenskiy after his landslide election victory in April, is dominated by loyalists of his defeated predecessor Petro Poroshenko. Servant of the People, campaigning on a pro-European, anti-corruption ticket, has no lawmakers at present.

Opposition Platform was in second place with 11%, compared with 7.8% previously.

Among other political forces seen able to overcome the five-percent threshold, Poroshenko’s European Solidarity party was on 7.2%. The party of former prime minister and presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko, is close to the threshold with 4.8%.

Another new party – Voice – established in May by Ukrainian rock-singer Sviatoslav Vakarchuk – managed to lose support: 3.4% versus 4.0% according to the previous poll.

KIIS said it interviewed 2,004 voters in all regions, except annexed Crimea.

Half of the 450 seats in Ukraine’s parliament are elected via party lists and the other half in single-member constituencies.

Ukraine’s most pressing issue is conflict with its neighbour Russia, which annexed its Crimea region in 2014. Zelenskiy has said his first task is to achieve a ceasefire.

Zelenskiy became famous playing the TV comedy role of a schoolteacher who unexpectedly becomes president after a pupil films his foul-mouthed tirade against corrupt politicians and posts the video online. His presidential campaign exploited parallels with that fictional narrative, portraying him as an everyman who would stand up to a crooked political class.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Editing by William Maclean)

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