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Pre-term parliamentary elections in Ukraine
The early parliamentary elections in Ukraine were held on September 30, following the Decrees of the President of Ukraine that dealt with the dismissal of the Verkhovna Rada and consequent pre-term parliamentary elections.
President Yushchenko dissolved parliament this spring, in his words, to end political corruption and block attempts to usurp power by Premier Yanukovych’s coalition.
The president and the prime minister, his nemesis from the Orange Revolution of 2004, have been caught up in a year-long struggle for authority. The president hopes that the snap election could help end longstanding political paralysis that has plagued Kyiv’s politics.
Political analysts also warned that election results could be challenged by lawsuits, but massive street protests as seen during the Orange Revolution are not expected.
A small party led by former parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn may yet hold the balance of power. Lytvyn, a longtime politician who cast himself as a mediating force, has not yet said (at the time the magazine went to press) which side his party will align with.
The Party of Regions, led by outgoing Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and his coalition partner, the Communist Party, may be unable to form a government without Lytvyn’s support. The first official results were not expected until some time later after the elections. About sixty-three percent of the country’s 37 million voters cast ballots.
Ukraine’s Orange Revolution allies made a strong combined showing in Sunday’s parliamentary elections and looked poised to win a majority that could unseat the prime minister and steer the country more firmly onto a pro-Western course.
There have been many comments made, both in the Ukrainian and foreign press, and by politicians in the west and in neighboring Russia.
Jose Manual Barroso, European Commission President, expressed hope that the reforms in Ukraine would continue after a new government would be appointed, adding that according to international observers, the parliamentary elections in Ukraine were transparent and honest. He noted the preference the Ukrainian people had given to the democratic principles.
Georg Schirmbeck, a member of the German Bundestag and an elections observer, expressed his satisfaction with the way the elections had been conducted — the elections were democratic and honest, he said. He emphasized that no matter which party or bloc of parties would get the majority in parliament, they should unite their efforts and work for the benefit of Ukraine. Speaking in an interview at the Deutche Welle radio station, he said that Ukraine had a great potential and excellent perspectives for closer relations with Germany.
Frank Walter Steinmayer, Germany’s Foreign Minister, is of the opinion that the pre-term parliamentary elections in Ukraine gave Ukraine a chance to deal with the current political crisis. He said that Germany would continue to support the reforms in Ukraine and is getting closer to the European Union.
Rene van der Linden, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council, said that the early parliamentary elections in Ukraine gave this country and its politicians still another chance to solve the political crisis.
Javier Solana, Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union, called upon the Ukrainian politicians to help form the government as soon as possible and to introduce reforms. He supported further development of relations of Ukraine with the European Union, but at the same time accentuated the importance of positive reforms and of the development of democracy in Ukraine.
Tom Casey, the US State Department’s Deputy Spokesman and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, expressed hope that a new government that would be created as a result of these elections would prove to be effective and that the USA were prepared to maintain mutually beneficial relations with any Ukrainian government that would be formed after the elections.
Alexandr Torshin, head of the group of observers from Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union, said that their assessment of the elections was positive, and no serious violations of the election laws and rules had been observed. According to him, the elections were transparent and met the world standards.
Orysya Sushko, head of the Mission of the Congress of Ukrainians of Canada, was of the opinion that the early parliamentary elections in Ukraine were, in general, transparent and honest, and that a certain progress had been made since the previous elections.
President Yushchenko of Ukraine said that “The political results of the elections give the democratic forces an opportunity to organize a parliamentary majority…” and that “the relations of those in power and of the opposition must be constructive.” He also said that “the nation gave the mandate to the three major political forces in Ukraine to bring stability and permanence to this country.” He encouraged the three major political forces — Party of Regions, BYut and Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense — to get together and start political consultations as soon as possible.
According to the official results, BYuT bloc, with an unexpectedly strong showing, came in second place. It garnered 30,71 per cent support, just behind Mr Yanukovych’s Regions party (34,37 per cent); 14,15 per cent was received by Our Ukraine — People’s Self-Defense bloc. The Communist party won 5,39 per cent of the votes cast, and Lytvyn’s party 3,96 per cent. The Socialist Party failed to get into the new parliament with less than 3 per cent of the votes.
By Ruslan FOKIN,
Yulia Tymoshenko and Yury Lutsenko congratulating
Vyacheslav Kyrylenko and his daughter
Viktor Yanykovych at the polling station.
Lytvyn’s party, led by Volodymyr Lytvyn,