Election Winners, Losers, And Who Will Come To Rule Ukraine

KIEV, Ukraine -- Two days before the Sept. 30 parliamentary election, Russia’s Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin stated that energy prices to Ukraine this winter will depend on who wins the election.

Russia’s Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin

Two days after the Orange forces won the election, Russia’s Gazprom declared that Ukraine has a $1.3 billion energy debt.

Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and the Minister of Energy, the incompetent Yuriy Boyko — both from the losing Party of Regions – headed off to Moscow.

Equally bad, the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, is at it again. He has muddied the political waters by calling for a united government comprising the top three parties, a ploy that prevented the Orange forces from forming the government following the March 2006 parliamentary elections.

What to make of this?

It is strange that Russia’s ambassador was neither reprimanded by President Yushchenko nor asked to withdraw his remarks. Nor were there any calls for the ambassador to leave the country as persona non grata.

Russia is very much at home in Ukraine and continues to behave like a colonial power. The behavior of the prime minister and his energy minister is inappropriate.

The ministers failed to assure the Ukrainian people that they would put up a fight in their defense; instead, the obsequious duo went off to Moscow to hear its bidding. The president’s call for a united government are strange.

So, who are the winners and losers of the Sept. 30 elections?

At first glance the results appear similar to those prior to the election, with the Orange forces and the Party of Regions and its allies each receiving about half of the county’s support.

In fact, the political scene has altered dramatically, as Russia’s pressure on energy prices, the president’s call for unity in view of the Orange win, and the ministers’ trip to Russia demonstrate. There are big winners and losers.

Despite attaining the highest number of votes, the biggest loser is the ruling Party of Regions. It failed to hold power. Only 34 percent of Ukrainian voters backed it.

The other big loser is Olezander Moroz. His Socialists failed to pass the 3 percent barrier required to sit in Ukraine’s parliament. This is not a surprise. After the March 2006 elections, Moroz abandoned the Orange forces to join Yanukovych. Now, he is being punished. One attractive Kyiv voter summed up the prevailing attitude: “Anyone but Moroz.”

The under-performance of the two key pro-Russia parties is bad news for them. It prevents them from taking power in parliament. And, it is bad news for Russian President Vladimir Putin. His wish to control Ukraine as part of his re-emerging new Russian empire is well known.

In secret discussions with Yanukovych, just weeks before the election, he promised that he [Putin] would continue as prime minister regardless of the will of the people. What will be his moves to protect Russia’s interests in view of the Orange victory?

Undeniably the big winner is Byut, Yulia Tymoshenko’s bloc, pulling in over 30 percent of the votes. Her political staying power and momentum are impressive.

Dismissed by President Yushchenko as prime minister, she has put personal animosities aside to cobble, again and again, an Orange coalition, knowing full well that without a united presence the pro-West forces are doomed.

The voters have rewarded her with growing support in the last three elections. Moreover, in this election, she made inroads beyond the historically pro-West regions of Ukraine, winning handsomely in central and parts of southeastern Ukraine. She is poised to form the new Orange government. But why is the president stalling?

There are two other winners. Although small in percentage of votes taken, the Communist Party, dismissed by some as yesterday’s phenomenon prior to the election, has nearly doubled its electoral support from the last election to almost 5 percent.

Its gain is a testimonial to the poverty in the rural areas, national high unemployment, and the low pensions – all big issues in Ukraine. It is said that the Communists are funded by Ukraine’s richest oligarch, Rinat Akhmetov. He funds the Party of Regions as well. In parliament, the Communists will join the Regions to form the opposition.

A big winner and someone to watch is the Phoenix-like resurrection of Volodymyr Lytvyn. Parliament’s speaker under President Leonid Kuchma, he returns after a two-year political absence. His bloc obtained nearly 4 percent.

It is expected that he will support the Regions, although his greater ambitions will dictate a winning strategy that may lend support to issues with popular appeal, regardless of party affiliation.

What about Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense (OUPSD), whose honorary head is President Yushchenko? Are they winners or losers?

Although they placed third after Byut and the Regions, receiving nearly 15 percent of the vote, they – in particular the Our Ukraine faction – cannot be counted as a winner. The force that brought millions to contest and win the fraudulent presidential elections in 2004 has been loosing ground steadily.

Its former supporters are disappointed in the president’s inability to deal with Russia’s meddling in Ukraine’s affairs, in particular, his capitulation to Russia’s grab of the energy sector, and his failure to deal with corruption.

Forming a loose union in time for the elections, OUPSD is seen as splintered and quarrelsome. Unless it forms into one strong party, the descendants of the formerly mighty Rukh and Republican parties will disintegrate even further.

One positive move has been to bring young Yuriy Lutsenko, a high-profile freedom fighter and Orange Revolution figure, into its team. His PSD gave Our Ukraine a boost. Immediately after the election results, he made a public statement of supporting Tymoshenko.

Our Ukraine did not, illustrating once again why many of its former supporters have moved over to Byut. And if the president does not call for the formation of an Orange government very soon, he might be left without a party altogether: Our Ukraine will disappear, because the people will lose faith in it altogether.

And the people know what they want and how to make their vote count. The people were the greatest winners in these elections. They switched loyalties to reward those who espouse their values and protect their well-being. They created winners and losers and made a choice for a new government. But will they get it?

The alliance between Tymoshenko and OUPSD entitles them to form the government. The opposition will comprise the Regions’ Yanukovych together with the Communists.

The big question is, which side will Lytvyn support. Even without him, the Orange power has the numbers. But, they also had them in March 2006.

At that time, the president uttered phrases about a three-way unity, went as far as signing a meaningless unity treaty, and basically stalled, stalled, stalled.

This gave the Regions — read Russia – time to buy over some of the elected deputies at a rumored price of up to $1 million, get a majority and form a government.

Will the president do this again? Hopefully not, but stay tuned.

Source: Kyiv Post

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