Billionaire chocolatier Petro Poroshenko has declared victory in the Ukrainian elections, based on exit polls that have him at about 56% percent. If the tally holds, a run-off, which some feared might keep the country on a precarious perch for the next few weeks, will be be avoided.
The Maidan seemed somewhat ready to embrace Poroshenko:
Poroshenko wasted no time in delivering a speech:
Announcing he had won, the 48-year-old businessman promised to forge closer links with the EU and restore peace in restive eastern regions.
As Ukraine voters choose a new leader to stabilize their country, a huge percentage of the polling stations in eastern Ukraine aren't open for business. This is how the paper of record framed the conundrum:
Despite the obstacles in the east — where as many as 80 percent of the polling stations in some areas are unable to function — international observers said they expected robust turnout elsewhere in the country and the vote to receive generally high marks in meeting standards of fairness.
Violence continued throughout the east over the weekend, including shelling and fighting. Turnout was staggeringly low in Luhansk and Donetsk, the fifth-largest city in Ukraine with a population of about one million. Already besieged by pro-Russian forces, several hundred armed separatists arrived in the city this morning, firing their weapons in the air.
Only one-fifth of the city's polling stations were reportedly open:
Elsewhere, there are very long lines in Kiev...
We chose a polling station at random in the Kiev suburbs. Huge queues. "Most important election in our history" pic.twitter.com/SOJoQQQ3cC— Daniel Sandford (@BBCDanielS) May 25, 2014
It's hailing like hell! pic.twitter.com/qVkaklQI6E— Nataliya Vasilyeva (@NatVasilyevaAP) May 25, 2014
and physical reminders of the ever-present Dark Side.
As we mentioned yesterday, Ukraine's Candy King Petro Poroshenko, seen as a pragmatic, independent newcomer, is expected to ride to victory. However, should he not secure more than 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff in June. Analysts have warned that any further delays in the establishment of a permanent government would continue to make stability in the country elusive.