Batkivshchyna Party Withdraws Candidates

KIEV, Ukraine -- The opposition Batkivshchyna party on Monday agreed to withdraw 28 candidates in majority districts to reduce competition for Udar party and other allies at upcoming October 28 parliamentary elections.

Vitaliy Klitchko and Yulia Tymoshenko

But a closer look at the suggested withdrawals show Batkivshchyna and Udar have failed to agree on the most competitive districts in Kiev, leaving the ruling Regions Party an opportunity to prevail.

The cooperation between Batkivshchyna, created by jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and Udar, led by heavyweight boxing champion Vitaliy Klitchko, is crucial in defeating the Regions Party, analysts said.

This comes a day after Udar has announced it was withdrawing 32 candidates, of which 26 were to benefit Batkivshchyna and six were to benefit popular independents.

The failure to agree on the majority districts in Kiev and other regions signals the parties may not be ready for important compromises and that raises questions about their ability to work together in the future Parliament.

“The attempt to peacefully share majority districts has ended in the disaster,” Serhiy Leshchenko, a reporter at Ukrayinska Pravda nline newspaper, wrote in his blog.

“It will be a big luck if this exchange of prisoners-of-war would make at least several of them end up in Parliament.”

At stake are 225 majority districts in Ukraine that will elect 225 lawmakers in the 450-seat Parliament, while another 225 will be decided on a party-list vote.

Both Batkivshchyna and Udar are expected to score more than 5% to be able to enter Parliament on party lists.

Meanwhile, the closer look at the suggested withdrawals show that both, Udar and Batkivshchyna, have mostly decided to withdraw the candidates that had little chance of winning the districts, or where the Regions Party affiliated candidates were the front runner.

But in Kiev, which has 13 majority districts, a withdrawal of one opposition candidate would help another one to defeat a pro-government candidate.

“Out of overall candidates that have been withdrawn only few opposition candidates have realistic chances of victory,” Leshchenko said.

“But the main thing is that confrontation between strong candidates from Udar and Batkivshchyna in Kiev has not been eliminated.”

Most politicians agree that the decision to withdraw the candidates was difficult to make, according to a source who participated at Batkivshchyna convention on Monday.

“The decision was very difficult to make,” the source quoted Oleksandr Turchynov, the chief of Batkivshchyna campaign chief, as saying.

Another Batkivshchyna leader, former Parliamentary Speaker Arseniy Yatseniuk, said the agreement with Udar should have bee signed at least six months ago to guarantee success.

“We should have made the decisions six months ago,” Yatseniuk said.

“This would have increased our chances for a victory.”

Udar on Monday reacted with criticism of Batkivshchyna, accusing its ally of failing to stick to a previous accord.

“It’s not important how many candidates has withdrawn,” Udar said.

“It’s not about the number of districts, but about candidates’ chances for victory.

“We are convinced that voters will give their assessment of Batkivshchyna at the elections.”

Source: Ukrainian Journal