The election of Petro Poroshenko as Ukraine's new president is filled with hope—hope that he will ease the battle with Russia and form a bridge with the West. Hope that he will improve Ukraine's crumbling economy. Hope that he can keep his country from breaking into a civil war.
But the greatest hope is that Poroshenko will become the world's first truly effective, democratic billionaire president. The odds aren't good.
One reason is Ukraine itself. The East European oligarchy doesn't exactly lend itself to enlightened democracy and free markets. Its past presidents, from Viktor Yanukovych to Viktor Yushchenko to Leonid Kuchma, have often shown more interest in building sprawling dachas and silencing their opposition than building sustainable economies and civil society.
Poroshenko, known as the "Chocolate King," owns Kiev's Roshen Sweets, which makes chocolate and other confectionery. Voters are hoping that his newfound power will be used to stitch together peace with Russia and prosperity for Ukraine—not to enrich himself further. And therein lies the problem for most billionaire presidents.