Next month’s EU poll is almost impossible to call as party loyalties crumble and voters look left, right and beyond

The likelihood that Ukraine will elect a comedian as president this weekend is no laughing matter for serious students of European politics fretting over the outcome of next month’s EU parliamentary elections. The expected victory of Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a policy-free parvenu who leads the incumbent, Petro Poroshenko, by 35 points could be seen as the ultimate triumph for the anti-politics, anti-establishment mood gripping Europe.

Democratic insurrections of this kind, confounding conventional wisdom, are not as rare as might first appear – although Ukraine is an extreme case. The US has experienced periodic, Trumpian spasms of anger against politics-as-usual, spawning rambunctious campaigns to “throw the bums out”. In 1992, a plausible nobody from Arkansas, Bill Clinton, was the direct beneficiary of Ross Perot’s insurgent revolt against the then-president, George HW Bush.

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