Zelensky remains in power after term expires with Ukraine's elections suspended under martial law

Holding a presidential election would pose major issues due to the fact that much of the country is occupied by Russia.

Published: May 21, 2024 1:56pm

Updated: May 21, 2024 2:00pm

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's term expired, but he remains in power since the country's elections were suspended under martial law, which was instituted after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Without martial law, Ukraine would have held presidential elections on March 31, 2024, with Zelensky's term expiring on May 20, according to The Kyiv Independent.

Holding a presidential election would pose major issues, most notably due to the fact that Russia occupies about a fifth of Ukraine and an estimated 10 million Ukrainians are living under Russian occupation or have been illegally deported to Russia, according to the Institute for the Study of War. Additionally, almost 6.5 million refugees have left Ukraine and are living around the world due to the war, data from the United Nations shows.

A February 2024 poll from the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology suggests that most Ukrainians – 69% – support keeping Zelensky as president until martial law ends, and then holding presidential elections immediately after.

"For the Ukrainians, the priority is to win the war and then have an election," the institute's head, Anton Hrushetskyi, told the BBC. "Therefore, they don’t question the legitimacy of Zelensky."

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