Ishchenko: Poroshenko’s strategy will be to “lose at least with some decent score"

PONARS Eurasia
08 Apr 2019

(Foreign Policy) On Sunday night, it became clear that Petro Poroshenko may not be Ukraine’s president for much longer. Judging from the increasingly desperate and over-the-top rhetoric, he and his supporters know it.

With all the votes counted, Poroshenko had disappointingly secured less than 16 percent of the vote. That put him a distant second behind the front-runner, the comedian-turned-politician Volodymyr Zelensky, whose only political experience consists of pretending to be a president in a popular Ukrainian TV show. The 41-year-old Zelensky won more than 30 percent of the vote, outperforming the expectations of most pollsters. The two men will face off in the second round of the elections on April 21. [...]

There’s little reason to think Poroshenko’s campaign will change course in the remaining weeks before the second-round vote. “Poroshenko’s campaign will become even more nationalist,” said Volodymyr Ishchenko, a sociologist and lecturer at Kiev Polytechnic Institute. Zelensky’s larger than expected lead over Poroshenko is so insurmountable, Ishchenko argued, that the incumbent president could in theory win on April 21 only by engaging in “massive outright fraud”—something that Ishchenko, fortunately, doesn’t foresee happening. Instead, he said, Poroshenko’s strategy will be more to “lose at least with some decent score,” such as 40 percent, “and consolidate nationalist opposition around him.”

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