- Title: UKRAINE: Ukraine remains split ahead of parliamentary poll
- Date: 26th September 2007
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) OLEXIY SYSOEV, MINER, SAYING: "I am voting for the Regions Party." (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) OLEXIY SYSOEV, MINER, WHEN ASKED WHY HE WAS VOTING FOR THE REGIONAL PARTY, SAYING: " I don't really know. Well, I've always voted for them." MINERS AT ENTRANCE
- Embargoed: 11th October 2007 13:00
- Location: Ukraine
- Country: Ukraine
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA52H357ILR00L9N9ZD8TVMHUBH
- Story Text: Ukraine's parliamentary poll scheduled for Sunday (September 30) is unlikely to bridge the traditional gap between Ukraine's east and west Ukraine's leading politicians are fighting a battle to win back voters tired of the political chaos of the last few years.
While Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko and his ally during 2004 Orange revolution Yulia Tymoshenko are touring their stronghold - nationalist west, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich focuses his campaign on the Russian-speaking east, where he traditionally enjoys wide support.
Yushchenko beat Yanukovich in a 2004 presidential election, but infighting toppled a government led by "orange" heroine, Yulia Tymoshenko.
Yanukovich became prime minister, and has overseen strong growth, but a struggle for power led Yushchenko to dissolve parliament and call a Sept. 30 election.
The premier's Regions Party and the "orange" camp are neck-and-neck in polls.
Stopping in scruffy industrial towns where his party's blue banners fluttered from trees and signposts, Yanukovich urges voters to fill parliament with his allies and end the chaos leading the ex-Soviet state into turmoil.
His calls are received this time with less enthusiasm than back in 2004, though traditionally most of voters in Ukraine's east going to vote for Yanukovich's Regions party.
"Nothing will change, so it's better to vote for your own people.
It's like soccer - you back the people you cheer for", said Vadim a manager from Donetsk.
Yanukovich, backed by Moscow in 2004, now describes himself as pro-European and his Regions Party tops polls and have overwhelming support in the industrial east of the country and especially in Donbass, the coal-miming heart of Ukraine.
His campaign is dominated by talk of better living standards which finds a warm receptions in the hearts of miners and their families.
"I am voting for the Regions Party. I don't really know why. Well, I've always voted for them", said Olexiy Sysoev, a miner in Donetsk.
In the west of the country, voters hear similar promises of better life and higher salaries but from Yanukovich's rivals - Yushchenko and Tymoshenko.
They have been touring strongholds in western Ukraine urging voters to forget the disunity that toppled their first government and back their parties in Sunday's (September 30) parliamentary election.
"I am voting for Yulia Tymoshenko. I believe she is really strong, charismatic politician who can achieve her goals and secure the independence of Ukraine, " said Olga Matviyishyn, a student at Lviv university.
But in this Ukrainian-speaking region, Yushchenko and Tymoshenko also talk of promotion of Ukraine's language and national identity - calls which meet wide support among local population.
"One of the reasons people in western Ukraine vote for Yulia or the president is that they speak Ukrainian. I believe that's important. As you know, the west is predominantly Ukrainian-speaking." explained Khrystyna Homa, a student from Lviv, "And the east, even central Ukraine and Kiev speak more Russian. That's why language is an important issue. The president and Yulia pay much attention to it and they speak Ukrainian. And that's why they have an advantage here. And they appeal to us as honest people. We like honest people with clean reputation," she added. Like in 2004, Ukraine remains split and the only thing which combines east and west is the disappointment with politics and the politicians in general.
The combined tally of the president's Our Ukraine party and Tymoshenko's bloc is close behind Yanukovich's Regions party and tough post-election talks to form a coalition are certain. But there are few hopes that "grand coalition" between the orange bloc and Yanukovich's Regions Party might be a way of bridging the traditional gap between Ukraine's east and west.
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