Our Ukraine Strays Toward The Regions

KIEV, Ukraine -- The political council of the pro-presidential Our Ukraine bloc confirmed the protocol to found an “Orange coalition” yesterday, with the exception of the sixth point, that is, the one specifying that Yulia Timoshenko is to be prime minister.

Yulia Timoshenko

This in reality makes an Orange coalition impossible and opens the way for new coalitions, such as one between Our Ukraine and the Party of the Regions.
Our Ukraine Says No

The Christian Democratic Union held a congress in Kiev yesterday. It is the last of the six parties making up the Our Ukraine bloc to do so. It had been the only party that had not discussed and approved the protocol on the establishment of an Orange coalition. The fate of that future coalition depended on the small party.

The protocol has been signed a week earlier by the Yulia Timoshenko Bloc, Our Ukraine and the Socialist Party. It contained six points, the last of which stated that, in accordance with a memorandum agreed to earlier, the head of the coalition government should be the head of the bloc that had received the most votes, that is, Timoshenko.

The signing of the protocol would be a victory for former prime minister Timoshenko since it cleared the way for her to regain that position. The ext day, however, the presidium of Our Ukraine confirmed the protocol only in part, without the sixth point. Five of the six parties making up the bloc did likewise.

The Christian Democratic Party was ready to approve the protocol in full, saying that the sixth point was unimportant, since posts would only be divided up after the coalition's working principles ware developed.

The Christian Democratic Party's position elicited a nervous response from the other bloc members. Party members brought copies of yesterday's Ukrainian version of Kommersant with them to the closed congress and discussed the suggestion in the paper that the party may become a fifth column within the Our Ukraine bloc and support Timoshenko.

The Christian Democrats did not want to form a fifth column. They voted against the sixth point as their allies in the bloc advised.

By passing the protocol without the sixth point, Our Ukraine has made its position clear. Timoshenko is completely unacceptable to it as prime minister. That practically eliminates any chance of an Orange coalition as such, since the premiership was always a basic condition for Timoshenko's participation in a coalition.

Our Ukraine leaders now face a tough task. They must convince voters that the stillbirth of the Orange coalition was not their fault but Timoshenko's. Their argument is simple – they united not for the sake of positions, but for principles. That means that guilt for the schism can be laid at Timoshenko's doorstep.

Timoshenko Strikes Back

Yulia Timoshenko was ready for this turn of events. Her election campaign slogan had been “all the people's choice for prime minister.” She promised that she would participate only in an Orange coalition and that the prime minister should come from the strongest coalition. She has been consistent in that position.

Therefore, when Our Ukraine members accuse her of pursuing exclusively personal ambitions, she responds that it is the will of the voters. By happy coincidence, the claim was backed up yesterday by the release of a survey taken by the All-Ukraine Sociological Service in Western Ukraine that should that 44.9 percent of respondents want to see her as prime minister, as opposed to 15.6 percent who supported Our Ukraine's Yury Ekhanuorv.

General director of the All-Ukraine Sociological Service Nikolay Mikhalchenko commented on the survey results that a “reassessment of values” had taken place in that region of Ukraine. Our Ukraine had considered it a bastion of its support, but now Timoshenko was three times more popular than its choice for prime minister. The survey should be an indication to the members of the pro-presidential bloc that they are losing voters by hindering Timoshenko's ascent to the premiership.

Timoshenko is trying to show that the Our Ukrainians are to blame for the failure to form a coalition. Her big weapon against her opponents is the accusation that Our Ukraine is holding behind-the-scenes negotiations with Viktor Yanukovich's Party of the Regions. Timoshenko held a press conference on Tuesday at which she said that Our Ukraine leaders Ekhanurov, Petr Poroshenko and Nikolay Martynenko have formed the concept of a “broad coalition” with the Party of the Regions. She said that she was told this by a member of the Our Ukraine political council who favors “a democratic coalition.”

The Yulia Timoshenko Bloc has one more piece of evidence that it is Our Ukraine that betrayed Orange ideals. Timoshenko associates point out that the pro-presidential bloc has formed a coalition with the Party of the Regions in the Kiev City Council and the Zaporozhye Regional Council.

The Yulia Timoshenko Bloc, on the other hand, has allied itself with another symbol of the Orange movement, Vitaly Klitschko's Pora-PRP bloc. Timoshenko stresses that for her a union with Yanukovich's party is impossible at any level. She sent a circular to all local divisions of her party last week prohibiting any coalition with the Party of the Regions whatsoever.

Yesterday, Our Ukraine leaders followed suit, prohibiting local divisions from forming coalitions with the Party of the Regions without the permission of the presidium.

The Battle for Moroz

Since both Our Ukraine and the Yulia Timoshenko Bloc acknowledge that there is little likelihood that they will form a coalition, they are calculating future moves carefully. If the parties and blocs that were elected to the parliament are unable to form a government by June 10 – the deadline set by the Constitution – repeat elections will be scheduled. If that happens, Our Ukraine will risk losing even more votes to the Yulia Timoshenko Bloc.

To avoid repeat elections, Our Ukraine must form a coalition. Without Timoshenko, that is possible only with the Party of the Regions. Our Ukraine leaders are so far vehemently denying secret contacts with the Party of the Regions. The theoretical possibility is being discussed more openly.

Yesterday, Alexander Paskhaver, an outside consultant to the president, held a briefing in the presidential headquarters and stated that a union with the Party of the Regions makes the most sense ideologically and economically. “The Party of the Regions is a rightist party,” Paskhaver commented, “that proposes cooperation between the state and large financial and industrial groups.

Our Ukraine is a center-rightist party with predominantly liberal views and evolutionary approach.” Paskhaver ascribed the remaining parties to the Left. “The Socialists, judging from their program, are a leftist party. I cannot say that the Yulia Timoshenko Bloc has a definite program but, judging from past experience, when administrative intervention was predominated in the economy, that party is unconditionally leftist. Even further left than the Socialist Party.”

Yesterday's statement by the Party of the Regions is equally indicative. Its press service reported that U.S. President Bush had congratulated Yanukovich on his victory in the elections through his special assistant Jack Crouch. The party thus demonstrated that the West's attitude toward it has changed for the better, which will also draw Our Ukraine in its direction.

Nonetheless, a direct union with Yanukovich's party would unavoidably cost Our Ukraine its leading position and voters in Western Ukraine. That is why Our Ukraine leaders are saying so insistently that the existing protocol remains open to all. That gives Yanukovich the opportunity to join it. Timoshenko would obviously refuse to form a coalition with Yanukovich, which would again make Timoshenko guilty of the schism. But if the Socialists withdraw from it, Our Ukraine becomes guilty for it.

A fierce battle has broken out between the Yulia Timoshenko Bloc and Our Ukraine for Alexander Moroz and his party. The Socialists may prove to be the litmus test for Orange-ness. Moroz has shown his solidarity with Timoshenko and she is doing everything possible to strengthen his allegiance, saying recently that, if an Orange coalition is formed, that Moroz, and not an Our Ukraine member, should become speaker of the Rada.

Obviously, Timoshenko will make harsh accusations against Our Ukraine today and say that it has denounced the coalition protocol. But the formation of the coalition depends on Alexander Moroz.

Source: Kommersant