Second round of presidential election in Ukraine to take place on Sunday

The second round of the presidential elections is to take place in Ukraine on Sunday, April 21.

Creative director of Studio Kvartal 95 Volodymyr Zelensky, who was nominated by the Servant of the People Party, and incumbent President Petro Poroshenko will compete in the runoff.

During the first round on March 31, some 30.24% of voters (5,714,034 people) voted for Zelensky, while Poroshenko was backed by 15.95% (3,014,609 people). A total of 18,893,864 citizens of Ukraine took part in the voting and the turnout was 63.52%. Some 1.18% of the ballots were declared invalid.

Preparations for the election and the March 31 vote itself were generally recognized by both foreign and Ukrainian observers as those that meet international democratic standards.

The two candidates spent three weeks before the April 21 runoff second round in virtual discussion of the need for holding a pre-election debate. Poroshenko immediately after the announcement of the March 31 vote results announced the need to hold the debate, Zelensky in response suggested it should be held at NSC Olympiyskiy Stadium in Kyiv with the presence of citizens of Ukraine and a large number of media. He insisted that prior to the event, the two candidates should undergo blood tests to prove that no one of the presidential candidates suffers from alcohol or drug addiction.

Poroshenko accepted the idea. After that, both candidates passed blood tests in different clinics, which was accompanied by attempts to reveal any irregularities or failures on the part of each of the camps.

Zelensky insisted that the debate be held on April 19 before an election silence. Poroshenko invited his rival to hold the debate earlier. To this end, on April 14, he organized a debate at NSC Olympiyskiy, but Zelensky did not turn up.

As a result, the parties reached an agreement, and the debate took place at Olympiyskiy Stadium on Friday, April 19. The event passed without incidents. Supporters of both candidates cried in support of their favorite and booed his opponent. The debate itself was limited to the mutual criticism by Zelensky and Poroshenko of each other, which each candidate voiced in his usual manner.

According to the latest poll of the Rating group for April 12-16, some 73% of those who plan to go to the polling stations are ready to support Zelensky in the second round, 27% said they would vote for Poroshenko. A survey conducted by Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) shows that 72.2% of Ukrainians are ready to vote for Zelensky, while 25.4% support Poroshenko.

To hold the April 21 vote, 199 constituencies have been created all over Ukraine, there is also another foreign constituency, which comprises 29,982 polling stations. The estimated number of voters included in the lists in these constituencies is 30,311,492. Among them, there are 449,175 voters who can vote abroad.

There could have been 223 constituencies, but Russia-occupied territories – Crimea and certain districts in Donetsk and Luhansk regions – were not included.

Some 101 polling stations have been created in the foreign constituency. They are hosed by the embassies and consulates of Ukraine abroad.

Most of them are in Germany (five), the United States, Poland, Italy (four in each country), three are in Canada, Spain, and Turkey each.

Ukrainian citizens will not be able to vote in Russian territory, as the Central Election Commission (CEC) late in 2018 closed all five Russia-based polling stations, which were opened in 2012 on a permanent basis. These stations were relocated to the embassies of Ukraine in Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Finland.

In addition, as was proposed by Ukraine's Ministry of Defense, the CEC created 80 special polling stations on the territory of military units: 65 in Donetsk region, 14 in Luhansk region and one in Lviv region.

Before March 15, voters were able to change the permanent place of voting without changing the voting address. Some 325,604 Ukrainians took advantage of this right.

For the April 21 vote, the CEC registered 2,485 official observers from international organizations and 215 from foreign countries. Yet, there are no observers from the Russian Federation among them as the CEC denied their registration.

The number of observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is the largest – 997 people, another 384 were sent by the European Network of Elections Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO), 249 by the Ukrainian World Congress, 203 by NGO CANADEM, 124 by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, 101 by the National Democratic Institute. The United States sent 65 observers, 45 observers came from Poland, 17 from France, 16 from Slovakia, and 13 from Germany.

Some 82,265 observers from public organizations will be present at the runoff. Most of the observers are from the Ukrainian Center for Democratic Society (27,610 people), the Ze!Team (11,128), Ukrainian NGO Solidarity Youth (7,276), NGO Advanced Legal Initiatives, or PPI (6,699), the Opora Civic Network (4,943).

Also, 33,851 official observers from candidate Petro Poroshenko and 3,226 from candidate Volodymyr Zelensky will also monitor the elections.

Some 1,149 journalists from 192 media received accreditation from the CEC of Ukraine.