- Title: UKRAINE: Campaigning begins for Ukraine's early parliamentary polls
- Date: 6th August 2007
- Summary: TRAFFIC IN CITY CENTRE
- Embargoed: 21st August 2007 13:00
- Location: Ukraine
- Country: Ukraine
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA49L08ITRTC84654T6DXYER8TV
- Story Text: Ukraine's political parties begin campaigning ahead of early parliamentary polls due next month. Analysts say the ballot on September 30 may not bring about a change in the balance of power in Ukraine, thus prolonging the country's political crisis.
Ukraine's politicians have begun campaigning for the upcoming parliamentary elections, due next month.
The early polls were called after months of turmoil pitting the pro-Western Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko against Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, his rival from the 2004 "Orange Revolution".
Yushchenko took office after defeating Yanukovich in the re-run of a rigged 2004 presidential election following weeks of "orange"
protests denouncing poll fraud.
Yanukovich, with his power base in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, staged a comeback when his Regions Party came first in a parliamentary poll just a year ago. He was named prime minister when Yushchenko's allies could not form a government.
In early June, following weeks of political wrangling, the two men reached a hard-won agreement to hold the parliamentary election on September
Some political observers believe next month's election could offer a chance for Yushchenko and his allies to regain the political initiative.
"The president and the Opposition are trying to play their hand again to recover from last year's election failure,"said political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko.
"They will try to control parliament, and especially the government, in order to get rid of the current situation where there are two opposed centres of power. On the other hand, the Party of the Regions, and its allies, will also try and retain control of the government and all executive branches of power, and of course to keep the majority in parliament," he added.
Yanukovich's Party of the Regions held their first major election campaign rally in Kiev on Saturday (August 4).
The Ukrainian prime minister told cheering supporters they should expect victory in the parliamentary ballot.
"We will not allow anyone to stop our march forward, our movement towards positive changes, and reforms. We are going to the elections, and we will win with even better results than last year," said Yanukovich.
Ukraine's two opposition groups, the pro-presidential Our Ukraine Party and the bloc of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, had long lobbied for a new election.
On Sunday (August 5), Tymoshenko told supporters her block would not be prepared to form a grand coalition with Yanukovich, and his supporters.
"We do not need any posts, neither the prime minister's nor the president's, nor anything else, if we have to agree to ugly compromises, and deals, with people who do not see Ukraine as an independent state, and with those who do not see the Ukrainian people as free and prosperous," she said.
The former prime minister accused her rivals of putting their own interests before Ukraine's.
"We do not have anything in common with people who knowingly are willing to forgo Ukraine's national interest in return for keeping their own positions," added Tymoshenko.
Fesenko believes next month's polls could lead to two contrasting scenarios for Ukraine, one which sees an end to the political instability, and one that simply sees a prolonging of the crisis between the rival political elites.
"Frankly speaking, the upcoming elections can allow the country to find a way out of the current political crisis, and to create a foundation for a new political regime, allowing the country to develop in a stable way, based on the principles of democracy and social and economic reforms. The main thing is to safeguard this prospect of democratisation, and future reforms.
But, there is another alternative; there is a threat that the elections will turn to be another stage of a permanent political crisis," he said.
Recent polls put the two camps backing the president and the prime minister in a virtual dead heat.
Yushchenko issued two decrees in April dissolving the parliament and ordering the election, first in May, then in June.
Months of sniping culminated in Yushchenko's April decrees on grounds that the prime minister was poaching his supporters to boost his parliamentary majority and change the constitution.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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