Ukraine's Reborn Orange Alliance Poised For Victory

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's reborn Orange alliance of former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko and President Viktor Yushchenko is poised for victory after yesterday's parliamentary election, the latest results showed.

With 40% of the vote counted, Yulia Tymoshenko is a clear winner of Sunday's snap elections.

Timoshenko's bloc and Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party had 49 percent of the vote with 40 percent counted by 9:50 a.m., the Central Election Commission said on its Web site.

Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych's party and his Communist and Socialist allies had 38.9 percent.

Timoshenko, 46, said on television she will meet Yushchenko today to discuss the formation of a Cabinet, reuniting the victors of the 2004 Orange Revolution that overturned a rigged presidential ballot.

The two leaders, who seek closer ties to the European Union and NATO, agreed on Sept. 27 to work together, two years after Yushchenko, 53, fired Timoshenko in a dispute over asset sales.

``We will be able to form a coalition in one or two days,'' Timoshenko said. ``It was a victory for the democratic forces, our common victory with the president.''

The pro-Russian Yanukovych, 57, won elections last year and his administration blocked many of the president's policies and stripped him of some powers.

Two exit polls predicted an Orange victory. The alliance may end up with 46.5 percent of the vote, according to an exit poll of 40,000 voters conducted by research agency TNS Ukraine and the U.S. companies PSB and Public Strategies Inc. for Ukrainian TV channel ICTV.

Yanukovych and his allies may get 38.7 percent, the poll showed. No margin of error was given.

`Carte Blanche'

Yanukovych was defiant. He said his party had been given ``carte blanche'' to form the next government.

``We will ask all parties that entered the parliament to start talks with us,'' he said in a television interview. ``We will unite all pragmatic forces that will be able to unite Ukraine and stimulate economic development.''

Still, the president's party will vote with Timoshenko, said Yuriy Lutsenko, leader of Our Ukraine. ``We reiterate that we are going to team up only with Timoshenko's alliance,'' he said at a televised press conference.

Analysts agreed the Orange allies appeared to have won the day.

Timoshenko ``has saved the Orange Revolution,'' said Taras Kuzio, research associate at the Institute for European, Russia and Eurasian Studies at George Washington University in Washington, after the polls were published. ``This is an amazing continuation of the meteoric rise of the Timoshenko bloc'' if the poll results are confirmed.

`Reassume Control'

Final results are due later today. Turnout was about 63 percent, the Central Election Committee said last night. A party must win more than 3 percent of the vote to enter the parliament.

Timoshenko's bloc and Yushchenko's party may ``reassume control of the government if they command 43-45 percent of the vote,'' said Robert Legvold, professor of political science at Columbia University in New York, before the results. ``Timoshenko will choose the prime minister and most of the government.''

A group of candidates led by former Parliamentary Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, has 4.2 percent of the vote, possibly giving it a say in the formation of a government, the latest results showed. No other parties are expected to pass the 3 percent threshold.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the continent's main human rights watchdog, has deployed 710 election monitors across Ukraine, said Urdur Gunnarsdottir, spokeswoman for the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. The OSCE has expressed concern about possible irregularities, she said.

``There has been a lot of discussion and complaints about voter lists,'' said Gunnarsdottir, adding that the complaints include suggestions lists are inaccurate and people living abroad may be registered to vote.

The OSCE will hold a press conference at 1:30 p.m. today to give its assessment on whether the vote was free and fair.

Source: Bloomberg