After vote, Ukraine faces uncertainty over coalition

After vote, Ukraine faces uncertainty over coalition

Ukraine was in political gridlock on Monday as the parties that led in parliamentary elections jockeyed for advantage to appoint a newly empowered prime minister and government under President Viktor A. Yushchenko.

Ukraine was in political gridlock on Monday as the parties that led in parliamentary elections jockeyed for advantage to appoint a newly empowered prime minister and government under President Viktor A. Yushchenko.

Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister, said she hoped for an alliance among the groups that rode the 2004 uprising to power.

With no clear winner - and one clear loser - in an election that  international observers on Monday declared the country`s freest since its independence from the Soviet Union nearly 15 years ago, there appeared to be little chance that a compromise would be found soon.

Mr. Yushchenko, who led the protests in 2004 against a fraudulent presidential election, appeared to have been stunned by the election results, which showed his party trailing in distant third place. With 55 percent of the ballots counted late Monday, his party, Our Ukraine, had only 16 percent of the votes.

In brief remarks, he praised the vote as a victory for Ukraine`s infant democracy. But neither he nor his aides discussed in detail the negotiations under way - behind closed doors - over forming a government whose composition could be decisive in carrying out the domestic and foreign policy that Mr. Yushchenko promised when he became president. Among his pledges were to integrate Ukraine into NATO and the European Union and to revive the economy.

Yulia V. Tymoshenko, his former partner and prime minister whose bloc outpolled Mr. Yushchenko`s, said on Monday that she remained confident that an alliance could still be formed among what she called the democratic forces that rode the popular uprising of 2004 to power. That coalition splintered last year over policy disputes, ego clashes and mutual accusations of corruption.

"The coalition had and continues to have a chance to be formed," said Ms. Tymoshenko, whose party received 23 percent of the votes, according to the partial results.

The Party of Regions, led by Mr. Yushchenko`s rival, Viktor F. Yanukovich, so far has the largest number of votes, at 28 percent. The results underscored the fractured nature of Ukraine`s ethnic, social and geographic divisions, as well as the remarkable erosion of support for Mr. Yushchenko, whose popularity has suffered from economic decline and infighting.

In a sign of the bitterness between him and Ms. Tymoshenko, one of her advisers, Hryhory M. Nemyrya, said that Ms. Tymoshenko had called the president after surveys of voters leaving the polls predicted her second-place finish, but that he had not returned the call.

Instead, Mr. Yushchenko`s office announced in a terse statement that he would meet with the leaders of all the major parties on Tuesday, leaving open the possibility of a coalition that could include Mr. Yanukovich but exclude his erstwhile ally.

At the headquarters of Mr. Yushchenko`s party, a spokesman announced at midday that there would be no more announcements or briefings and that the building would close early.

Ms. Tymoshenko warned against any parliamentary coalition that would include Mr. Yanukovich, whose government was accused of rigging the presidential election that Mr. Yushchenko ultimately won after a repeat second round. She

said that would be a return "to square one."   

The article was monitored by The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service, Morgan Williams, Editor.

If you see a spelling error on our site, select it and press Ctrl+Enter