Election: A Close Run Thing

Unofficial results for last week's general election reveal that pro-Western parties have won a majority of seats in parliament. However, with no outright victor, coalition talks will now have to begin in earnest.

President Viktor Yushchenko, who called this month's elections in an attempt to remedy the deadlock between Mr Yanukovich's pro-Russian Blues and the parties associated with 2004's Orange Revolution, is trying to project an even-handed stance at this stage. However, personal rivalries may prove painful to overcome, not least with his former ally Julia Tymoshenko.

Yushchenko shared a golden victory with Tymoshenko back in 2004, but less than a year later he sacked her following squabbles within the government.

Nevertheless, Mrs Tymoshenko's breakaway party, titled unequivocally the Yulia Tymoshenko Blok, has a strong hand from the current elections. Together, the pro-Western parties won 228 seats in parliament against 175 by Yanukovich's pro-Russian Blues. However, of those 228 'Orange' votes, only 72 went to President Yushchenko's Our Ukraine Party. Tymoshenko scooped 156.

Ukraine's population is largely divided in terms of religious and lingual affiliations. In the east, the Orthodox religion prevails, as does the Russian language, whilst in the West, Ukrainian is predominant alongside the Greek Catholic Church.

Although his pro-Western policies would seem to set him up against Yanukovich, President Yushchenko is endeavouring to remain open to suggestions from the Blues, perhaps as he sees Tymoshenko as a rival in forthcoming presidential elections.


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