Zelensky wants economist to be PM as Ukraine holds snap elections

KIEV: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky envisions the country’s next prime minister to be a career economist and, like himself, a relative political rookie. “I believe this person should be a professional economist,” Zelensky said as he cast his vote in parliamentary elections at a polling station in Kiev.
“I really wish this person to be a completely independent one, who was neither a prime minister nor a speaker, nor a leader of any faction,” Zelensky said, according to an official transcript.
Zelensky, a career actor and comedian who has presented himself as an alternative to a political establishment that has long struggled with corruption, said he did not envision forming a coalition “with anyone from previous authority.”
As a political newcomer, Zelensky, 41, has had to contend with a parliament stacked in favour of the country’s previous leadership.
Within days of his May inauguration, he issued a decree to disband the legislature and hold snap elections. The Constitutional Court upheld the decree as legally binding.
Zelensky’s political party, Servant of the People — which carries the same name as his hit television show — is supported by nearly half of those Ukrainians who intend to vote, 47 per cent, according to a recent survey by independent pollster Rating Group.
Zelensky “certainly needs these parliamentary elections to get a presidential majority, a pro-presidential government and prime minister,” said political expert Vadim Karasev, director of the Institute of Global Strategies, a Ukrainian think tank.
“Right now, he and his party have high ratings. His party has the potential to achieve a dominating position in the new parliament,” Ukrainian political expert Volodymyr Fesenko, who heads the Kiev-based Penta Centre of Applied Political Studies, told dpa.
Karasev speculated that the elections would result in the formation of a coalition government with Servant of the People, the pro-Western party Voice and possibly the Fatherland party of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
According to opinion polls, the country’s second most popular party, with about 10 per cent, is a political alliance with reputed close ties to the Kremlin.
A leader of the Opposition Platform — For Life alliance, Viktor Medvedchuk, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Russia in the run-up to Sunday’s elections.
Medvedev commended Medvedchuk for efforts to mediate between the countries, whose relations have plummeted to an all-time low in recent years amid a simmering conflict near their shared border. — dpa