Prospects For Political Stability In Ukraine Remain Dim

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko announced dissolving parliament early October and called a snap election amid mounting political chaos in the country.

Political struggles among Yushchenko (L), Tymoshenko (C) and Yanukovich (R) are still continuing amid the deepening economic crisis.

Though he had to postpone the plan under threat from the spreading international financial crisis, prospects for political stability in the country remain dim.

FURIOUS WRANGLES BETWEEN FORMER ALLIES

After an early parliamentary election in September 2007, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's party and Yushchenko's "Our Ukraine-People's Self- Defense" bloc formed a fragile majority coalition with 227 seats in the 450-member chamber.

However, the relations between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko, the two strong allies during the 2004 "Orange Revolution," took a nose-dive soon after the latter became prime minister in December 2007.

The two have long been at odds over how to tackle the country's rampant inflation, sell state assets and spend budgets. On foreign policy, Yushchenko is seeking closer ties with the European Union and NATO, while the prime minister favors balanced ties with Russia.

Yushchenko's "Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense" bloc withdrew from the 9-month-old coalition in September after Tymoshenko's party sided with the opposition Party of Regions to pass several laws to trim presidential powers.

Under Ukraine's constitution, the president can dissolve parliament if a new governing coalition is not formed within 30 days after the previous one collapses. Yushchenko announced the dissolution of parliament and called a snap election for December since talks on rebuilding a new coalition proved futile.

Yushchenko defended his move as the only way to safeguard the country's democracy and national interests. Tymoshenko, however, accused the president of orchestrating the collapse of the coalition in his bid to get rid of potential rivals and win the presidential election one year later.

IMMINENT ECONOMIC CRISIS

Tymoshenko has been waging a vigorous campaign against Yushchenko's decree of dismissing parliament. As analysts said, she would probably get ousted from the post of the prime minister after the snap election.

Yushchenko postponed the decree last month as Parliament had to act to approve anti-crisis legislation for Ukraine to qualify for a 16.4-billion-U.S. dollar emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund.

The global financial tsunami delivered a hard blow to Ukraine's economy. The inflation rate hit 18 percent in the first 10 months of this year. From a peak of 4.50 to the U.S. dollar this spring, the country's currency hryvnia has lost more than 60 percent of value by now.

Falling prices of steel, Ukraine's top export item, has led to the shutdown of most iron and steel plants. Lack of liquidity has also troubled banks.

The impact of the financial crisis on the real economy is beginning to unfold as the country's industrial production plummeted by 20 percent in October. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development predicts Ukraine's economic growth will plunge to 1 percent in 2009 from about 6 percent in 2008 and 7.6 percent in 2007.

Yushchenko has now realized that he cannot force new parliamentary elections at least until the new year. He said the economic issue must be given top priority.

Recent polls showed that a snap election would not produce a clear victory for any party. Tymoshenko's party may get a support rate of about 23 percent, the Regions Party led by ex-Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, some 20.6 percent, while Yushchenko's party, about 7.1 percent.

THREE POLITICAL OPTIONS

Political struggles among Yushchenko, Tymoshenko and Yanukovich are still continuing amid the deepening economic crisis. Analysts say Ukraine is facing three political options: a fresh parliamentary election, a face-saving truce between the president and the prime minister or a new coalition between Tymoshenko and Yanukovich.

Tymoshenko this week threatened to resume talks with the opposition Regions Party for creation of a coalition if Yushchenko's "Our Ukraine" still failed to support her.

"Our Ukraine" quickly rejected the ultimatum, accusing Tymoshenko of trying to form a coalition with the Regions Party and the Communist Party for the creation of "the pro-Kremlin majority."

If the parliament could not regain its competence, dissolving the chamber and calling a snap poll will be the last resort to break the deadlock. However, no political stability or economic prosperity is in sight even after the elections, the analysts said.

The political tensions will not ease at least until the end of 2009, when voters choose between Yushchenko, Tymoshenko and Yanukovich in the first presidential elections since the 2004 revolution, the analysts said.

Source: Xinhua

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