'Hard to Imagine'
But party member Oleksandr Holub, who will enter the Verkhovna Rada as a
party-list candidate, says the Communists no longer have much in common
with the Party of Regions, which is seen as protecting business
interests to the detriment of social policy. "In order to create a majority, [parliamentary factions] need to have
some common grounds," Holub says. "Today, it is hard for me to imagine
that such grounds can be found with the Party of Regions."
Analyst Kostiantyn Matviyenko echoed the suggestion that
the Communists, whom he described as "phenomenal political
survivalists," may hold off on an explicit partnership with Yanukovych
but cooperate on key votes in order to win coveted posts like first
deputy speaker. "The ruling party has not achieved its goal of creating a majority on
its own. They cannot do this without the Communists," Matviyenko says.
"There can be some situational things regarding some laws, but not a
stable pro-presidential majority. From this point of view, this is a
defeat for the ruling party."
The nonaligned, or "self-nominated" candidates, meanwhile, control 42
seats. Single-mandate constituencies are seen as particularly vulnerable
to voter fraud, and their candidates -- many of whom are local
businessmen whose profits depend on the grace of the state --
susceptible to pressure.
But some single-mandate lawmakers have rejected the notion of a deal with Yanukovych. Viktor Baloha, a powerful politician from Ukraine's Transcarpathian
region, is a member of the minor Yedynyi-Tsentr (United Center) party
but ran and won as a nonaligned candidate. Baloha, who served as chief of staff to former President Viktor
Yushchenko, has retained a position of prominence as emergencies
minister in the current government.
But he believes many deputies will choose against allying themselves with Yanukovych. "I don't think that there's so much garbage among the deputies from
single constituencies that it will allow the government to get 300
votes," Baloha says. "Secondly, I don't think that the president needs
300 votes. Thirdly, if there is a balance in society, including in the
Verkhovna Rada, the country will develop. If the country keels too much
to one side or the other, then again we will move to a dictatorship."
In a country where political opportunism is often seen as trumping
personal conviction, there are also predictions that some opposition
lawmakers may break with their parties in favor of a switch to the
Some observers suggested such a scenario might be likely in the case of Udar, the young and relatively untested party of world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko
. Klitschko, who is seen as harboring presidential ambitions, has pledged
his party will not cooperate with Party of Regions in any coalition. It
remains to be seen, however, whether any of his deputies will decamp.Accusations of Fraud
The flurry of calculations over parliament seats comes even as several
opposition groups continue to complain that the vote was manipulated to
favor the ruling party.
Both Batkivshchnya and Svoboda have argued that exit polls showed
opposition parties receiving a higher percentage of the vote than
indicated in official results. Civic monitors have also accused election officials of inflating voter
turnout figures in the Party of Region's support base in the country's
eastern Donetsk region. Western officials have expressed collective disappointment in the vote,
which is seen as a reversal of the country's post-Orange Revolution
If Yanukovych is unable to pull together a quick majority, there are
fears the new parliament may sink into a fresh season of horse-trading
and political infighting with little in the way of legislative activity.
But some observers note that the current Ukrainian Constitution does not
require a coalition to function and that the Verkhovna Rada can create
situational majorities in order to pass legislation. In the past, parties have often used their access to budget funds as an
enticement to potential friends. But political expert Dmytro Vydrin says
at a time of countrywide economic malaise, the Party of Regions may no
longer have the financial wherewithal to buy a group of permanent
coalition allies. "A situational majority will gather, for instance, to adopt the budget
or to elect the speaker, but then it will fall apart," Vydrin says. "No
one will put money in to support a good-looking but redundant political
design. Everyone is taking austerity measures now -- businesses and
politicians. So they will not support an artificial majority, because
this is just extra money."