Ukrainian voters, seeking stability, favor 'Chocolate King' PoroshenkoBy: Sabra Ayres
LVIV, Ukraine — With just three days left until Ukraine’s presidential election, Olya Hutsik said she has finally made up her mind whom to vote for on Sunday.
She supports Petro Poroshenko, also known as the Chocolate King of Ukraine, but not because she’s convinced he can revive the country’s economy or because she believes he’s the only politician who can bridge the gap between east and west in this deeply divided country.
Hutsik is voting for Poroshenko because he’s the front-runner in the polls, and if he manages to get more than 50 percent of Sunday’s vote, he’ll win outright and the country will avoid a second round of elections — something that’s happened only once in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history. A runoff election would be held on June 15.
“We just need a president as soon as possible,” she said. “We need to get this over quickly to calm the situation.”
On Thursday, the need for an end to the crisis was heightened as news broke that at least 11 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in a firefight with pro-Russian separatists in the east. With now daily reports of military losses and increased violence in the east, Poroshenko’s campaign has taken a sharp turn toward convincing voters that ending the election with just one round of voting is the best hope for the country.
“It is absolutely vital to the survival of our country,” he told reporters in Lviv when asked if he thought he could win in one round on Sunday. “Every day we pay with the lives of several Ukrainian soldiers. We should end this uncertainty.”
Poroshenko is leading in recent polls for a presidential election that many Ukrainians see as a make-or-break moment for the country’s stability after six months of civil unrest. Whoever wins will be expected to take on the monumental task of uniting the country and fending off a potential civil war against pro-Russian separatists. Russian troops stationed on Ukraine’s eastern border further intensify the situation.
Many voters seem to be counting on Poroshenko, who had a 34 percent approval rating in the latest Kiev International Institute of Sociology poll. His main rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, trails behind at 6 percent. In total, there are 21 names officially on Sunday’s ballot, but all eyes are focused on these two candidates.
Undecided voters will play a major role in this election, however, as 25 percent still don’t know whom they will vote for on Sunday. Another 13 percent of those polled said they would not participate at all.
In the east, many voters will either boycott the vote, which they feel is being directed by a central government they don’t trust, or will be blocked from voting by armed rebels who have taken over district polling stations in Donetsk and Luhansk.Read more at Al Jazeera America