No surprises here, but Petro Poroshenko is set to win Ukraine’s presidency in a first-round victory after exit polls gave him over 50% of the national vote in today’s election.
Poroshenko (pictured above) was winning between 56% and 58% of the vote, according to two national exit polls. Far behind in second place was former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko with around 13%. Oleg Lyashko was winning around 8% to 9%.
When the official results come in, however, I’ll be interested to see the turnout in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists may have dampened and hindered turnout. I’d also like to see whether Poroshenko won over 50% in the east, especially in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts — and if any candidate, such as Lyashko, who campaigned in eastern Ukraine, managed to break way with any significant support. Those numbers won’t tell us so much, though, because the anti-Poroshenko voters are likely not to have participated at all in what they believe is an invalid election.
The result hasn’t been in any incredible doubt since March, when pro-Western political leader Vitali Klitschko dropped out of the race and backed Poroshenko — instead, Klitschko decided to run for mayor of Kiev, and exit polls show that he, too, has overwhelmingly won his election.
The biggest question now is how Russian president Vladimir Putin responds to Poroshenko’s election. There were some signs as the election approached that Putin would respect the results, amid other signals that the Kremlin believes it can work with Poroshenko.
If Poroshenko can stabilize relations with Russia, he will then have to turn to mending bridges with eastern Ukrainians, extinguishing the anarchy of separatist control in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, and reforming Ukraine’s lackluster economy. It’s a tall order.
You can follow much, much more about the election and its background at Suffragio‘s in-depth Ukraine page.
Photo credit to AFP / Sergei Supinsky.