Ukraine - Political parties

There are some 120 political parties active in Ukraine. They fall roughly into four different categories: radical nationalist, democratic nationalist, liberal-centrist, and Communist-socialist.

The radical nationalist parties are fearful of Russia and advocate a strong presidency. Their commitment to democracy— particularly if regions of Ukraine seek to secede—is not firm. The democratic nationalist parties are also fearful of Russia, but also appear strongly committed to democracy, individual rights, and the protection of private property. The influential Rukh Party (Ukrainian Popular Movement), which won 43 seats in the 1998 elections, belongs to this group. The liberal-centrist parties are particularly concerned with promoting free market economic reform. They are also committed to democracy and individual rights. The communist-socialist parties oppose privatization and seek continued state control of the economy. They generally favor close relations with Russia. The most important party in this group, the Communist Party of Ukraine, won 116 seats in 1998.

In the March 2002 parliamentary elections, many parties grouped together into voting blocs. Winning the most seats in the Rada was the "Our Ukraine" coalition, led by Viktor Yushchenko, which took 23.6% of the vote and 112 of 450 seats. The coalition was registered in January 2002, and then included the Ukrainian People's Rukh Party (registered in 2003 as the Ukrainian People's Party), the People's Rukh of Ukraine, the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, the Reforms and Order Party, Solidarity, the Liberal Party, the Youth Party of Ukraine, the Christian People's Union, the Go Forward, Ukraine! Party, and the Republican Christian Party. In March 2003, Yushchenko announced a "new political force" would be created, that would form the basis for a European-style political party. Yushchenko is expected to run for the presidency in the 2004 elections.

Also gaining seats in parliament in the 2002 elections were: the "For a United Ukraine" bloc, 101; the Communist Party, 67; the United Social-Democratic Party of Ukraine, 24; the Socialist Party of Ukraine, 23; the Juliya Tymoshenko bloc, 21; the Democratic Party of Ukraine/Democratic Union liberal bloc, 4; the "Unity" bloc, 3; and independents and others held 95 seats.

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