Petro Poroshenko swept Ukraine's presidential election in the first round of voting. His clear victory tells us a great deal about the Ukrainians themselves, says DW's Ingo Mannteufel.
It was expected that chocolate magnate Petro Poroshenko would emerge victorious from Ukraine's presidential poll. All opinion surveys of the last few weeks showed him in the lead. Surprising is that he won an absolute majority in the first round of voting, according to exit polls taken immediately after polls closed.
Taken together with an apparently solid voter turnout, the Ukrainian people have delivered a clear signal with their choice of long-time politician Poroshenko: After months of political turmoil, the Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula and the ongoing threat coming from pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk, the Ukrainian people have shown themselves to be a united nation. And they have chosen a leader from the political middle with pro-European views to be their legitimate head of state.
Legitimacy for the post-Yanukovych era
The clear choice by Ukrainian voters for Poroshenko in the first round of balloting clarifies the legal and political circumstances in the country after the fall of President Viktor Yanukovych.
Although many Ukrainians were forcibly prevented from voting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions by pro-Russian separatists and voters in Crimea could not participate because the peninsula now belongs to Russia, balloting in all the other parts of the country went smoothly.
The attempts by pro-Russian separatists and the Kremlin in Moscow to further destabilize the political situation in Ukraine and prevent the presidential election failed, as the clear outcome of these free and democratic elections illustrates.
Moreover, the clear choice by voters for Petro Poroshenko refutes, once and for all, all those in Russia and even in Europe who succumbed to the Russian propaganda myth of a "fascist takeover" in Ukraine.
Petro Poroshenko is certainly not a radical politician and it will certainly be hard for Moscow to demonize him as an "anti-Russian fascist," especially since just about every Russian consumer is familiar with Poroshenko's ''Roshen' chocolate brand. A large portion of his company's revenues come from Russia.
Russia a key for peaceful Ukraine
Getting a dialogue going with Russia will be Poroshenko's biggest task: He will not only have to convince Moscow to cease its support for pro-Russian separatists in Dontesk and Luhansk, but also find a compromise to ensure natural gas deliveries from Russia. Only when this key issue is settled in the coming days and weeks can Poroshenko turn his attention to solving Ukraine's economic and social crisis.
A lot depends on Moscow's reaction. Russian President Vladimir Putin should not only respect the outcome of the Ukrainian election, as he has already said he would, but recognize the winner Poroshenko and start official talks with the new Ukrainian leadership.
With the election of Poroshenko, Ukrainians have clearly demonstrated that after weeks of chaos and upheaval they are united as a nation, but at the same time do not want radical solutions.