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Exit Polls: Pro-Europe Forces Ahead in Ukraine Election


Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko casts his ballot during parliamentary elections at a polling station in Kyiv, Oct. 26, 2014.

President Petro Poroshenko's political bloc, along with other pro-Europe forces, are decively leading in Sunday’s parliamentary election in Ukraine, exit polls showed.

National Exit Poll numbers put the pro-Western Petro Poroshenko bloc at 23 percent of votes cast on party lists, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's People's Front at 21.3 percent and a like-minded party, Self-Help, at 13.2 percent.

The results mostly coincided with those of two other exit polls, conducted separately.

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.

Right-wing parties, including the Radical Party and Svoboda, took about 6 percent each, while the party of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko barely won enough votes to pass the five percent threshold needed for representation in parliament.

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.

Turn-out was estimated at 51 percent.

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 and economic reforms.

Speaking after exit poll results were announced, Poroshenko thanked voters for backing what he called "a democratic, reformist pro-Ukrainian and pro-European majority."

Coalition talks are set to begin Monday.

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 Kyiv's pro-Western course as clashing with its own interest.

More than 3,700 people have been killed 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.

Daniel Schearf contributed to this report from Moscow.