Olga Onuch, an associate professor at Manchester University, says the former president oversaw a catastrophic retreat into safe, nationalistic leaning heartlands in western Ukraine.
“All the data tells us that you can’t win elections without winning votes in central or eastern Ukraine,” she said. “Poroshenko didn’t begin to address their bread-and-butter needs. He didn’t address the fact that people have got poorer over the last five years. For whatever reason, he didn’t tell them he felt their pain.”
Ukraine was not the only country whose elite has become disconnected from the people, Onuch adds, but levels of abject poverty mean the former Soviet nation is particularly vulnerable to wild and sudden changes in mood.
“This is a landscape-shifting election for Ukraine,” she said. “But the worry is that given the disconnect and the impossible expectations, if things don’t quite work out, people will turn to less attractive options.”