Ukraine’s presidential election has finished, and Chocolate King Petro Poroshenko has claimed a sweeping victory, with exit polls showing him at 55 percent of the popular vote, easily enough to avoid a run-off.
Turnout was solid in most of the country, though polls by and large did not open in the eastern oblasts, and the polls in the city of Donetsk weren’t open at all, leaving around a million people unable to vote.
Poroshenko said that his first goal after inauguration would be to travel to Donetsk to tackle the growing secessionist movement. Russia has offered to work with the new government on that, and with Poroshenko’s significant business interests in Russia, he is likely to be a more welcome choice for Ukraine’s larger neighbor than some of the alternatives.
Whether he is palatable to the Maidan protesters is another matter. The far-right protesters who ousted Ukraine’s last elected government are still in place, and their constant anti-oligarch statements are likely to put the billionaire Poroshenko in their crosshairs.
For his part, the Chocolate King insists he is no oligarch, and maintains that he has “always been in the opposition” in Ukraine. His political record tells a much different story, however, of a consummate insider, who has held positions of power in every government since 2004.
Changing with the political winds has been Poroshenko’s specialty, and he was in the cabinets of both the Tymoshenko government and the pro-Russian Yanukovych government until the end of 2012. After leaving that position, he jumped on the Maidan protest bandwagon, and used his pro-protester bona fides to sweep the election.
His ability to time his position changes has served him well, but in an increasingly divided nation, with Maidan protesters looking for harsh moves against the east, his ability to placate everyone is going to be tested like never before.