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Ukrainian President Zelensky humbled in hometown after Russia-leaning candidate thrashes his party in mayoral election

Ukrainian President Zelensky humbled in hometown after Russia-leaning candidate thrashes his party in mayoral election
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has suffered a humiliating electoral defeat in his hometown, with his party trounced in the Krivoy Rog mayoral election by a politician from the Opposition Platform – For Life group.

Dmitry Shevchik, the candidate from Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, was a huge favorite after long-serving incumbent mayor Yury Vilkul pulled out of the election at the last minute due to ill health. Vilkul is a former member of the now-defunct Opposition Bloc, and most recently ran as his own small party, Ukrainian Perspective.

Sunday’s vote was the second round of the city’s mayoral election, and was due to be a run-off between Vilkul and Shevchik. In the first round, Vilkul won 47.27 percent of the vote, and Shevchik came second with 25.94 percent.

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When Vilkul withdrew, Konstantyn Pavlov, who received just 9.15 percent in the initial voting, was placed into the run-off. After receiving Vilkul’s endorsement, the Opposition Platform candidate won the election with 56.97%. Shevchik received just 40.49 percent.

The sizeable loss for the president’s party in the city of his birth is a massive embarrassment for the Ukrainian leader, who visited in late November to publicly meet his candidate.

While Servant of the People remains the most popular party in the country, Ukraine’s political landscape is rather complicated. Earlier this year, in local government elections, Zelensky’s faction won 17.59 percent of the seats across the nation. Far from being a majority, this was nonetheless the best result for any party.

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Since his 2019 electoral victory against former president Petro Poroshenko, Zelensky’s popularity has dropped significantly. Despite winning a landslide (73.22 percent) in April 2019, a September 2020 poll revealed that just 22.2 percent of Ukrainians would vote for him as their first choice if he decided to seek re-election.

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