Pro-Europe parties have won a sweeping victory in crucial parliamentary elections that Ukrainians hope will improve stability after a year of turmoil and months of warfare against pro-Russian separatists in the east.
Partial results released on October 27 showed President Petro Poroshenko's bloc and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's People's Front in a virtual dead heat with 21.6 percent and 21.7 percent, respectively.
With more than 30 percent of the votes counted, another pro-Europe party, Self-Reliance, was third with 10.8 percent.
Poroshenko said on national television late on October 26 that voters had given "strong and irreversible backing to Ukraine's path to Europe."
He said coalition talks would begin on October 27 and called the People's Front the "main partner" for his bloc.
Poroshenko said he hopes to have an absolute majority in parliament that could pass "fundamental changes" to the constitution.
Poroshenko called the early poll in a bid to set Ukraine on a new path eight months after pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted following opposition protests.
According to the Central Election Commission, preliminary turnout results are just above 51 percent.
In a statement published on the presidential website, Poroshenko thanked voters for backing a "democratic, reformist, pro-Ukrainian and pro-European majority."
Over The Threshold
Four other parties are expected to pass the 5 percent threshold needed to enter the Verkhovna Rada: the Opposition Bloc, which was joined by many members of Yanukovych's Party of Regions; the Radical Party led by populist Oleh Lyashko; the nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party, and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's Batkivshchina (Fatherland).
For the first time since Ukraine became independent, the Communist Party is not expected to enter parliament.
WATCH: Casting his ballot in Kyiv. Poroshenko told journalists that he was confident of a "victory for democracy" and a pro-European Ukraine. (Reuters)
About 5 million voters located in Crimea, annexed by Russia in March, and in separatist-controlled areas of the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk did not take part in the elections.
Poll officials said 15 out of 32 district election commissions in Luhansk and Donetsk did not operate during the vote.
As a result, 27 seats in the 450-seat parliament will be left vacant.
WATCH: Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and her husband, Oleksandr Tymoshenko, went to the polls in Dnipropetrovsk as voting opened. Tymoshenko's Fatherland party is trying to cross the 5 percent threshold to gain seats in parliament after several prominent members left the party, including Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. (RFE/RL)
Polls showed a majority of Ukrainians support economic and democratic reforms -- especially a crackdown on corruption -- leading eventually to membership in the European Union.
But the conflict in eastern Ukraine has cast a shadow over the elections.
A cease-fire signed in September has ended much of the fighting, but daily violations of the truce in several places continue to cause casualties among government forces, the rebels, and civilians.
More than 3,700 people have been killed in the conflict and hundreds of thousands of others have fled their homes.
WATCH: A man dressed as Darth Vader, the masked villain from the "Star Wars" movie franchise, tried to vote at a polling station in Kyiv on October 26, but was prevented from doing so by election officials. Darth Vader impersonators have made a number of appearances in Ukraine in the past two years as part of publicity stunts by the Internet Party of Ukraine, which advocates technological improvements to eliminate bureaucracy. (Reuters)
Leaders of the pro-Russian insurgents in Donetsk and Luhansk have said they will hold elections to their so-called "people's republics" on November 2 to elect separate parliaments.
Kyiv, the United States, and several other countries have said the elections are illegitimate and will not be recognized.
With reporting by AP, AFP, and Interfax