Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko yesterday received 221 votes, just short of the 226 he needed in order to become chairman of the Ukrainian parliament. Pro-presidential (“centrist”) and national-democratic (“rightist,” including Rukh) deputies boycotted the balloting. It was the eighth round of voting for the chairmanship since the new parliament opened on May 12. (Ukrainian TV, June 18; see the Monitor, June 4)
The left covets that powerful post for the twin purpose of blocking reforms and thwarting President Leonid Kuchma’s bid for reelection. Symonenko and socialist leader Oleksandr Moroz are presidential aspirants. The communist deputies form the single strongest group with some 120 seats out of 450–a far cry from their claim that they “won” the election. Their relative success has been achieved mainly at the expense of other leftist parties. Overall leftist strength in this parliament is about the same as in its 1994-98 predecessor, whose chairman Moroz and his allies successfully resisted the president’s irresolute reform initiatives.
In the new chamber, the anti-Kuchma group Hromada–whose ideology is widely considered to focus on enrichment of its leaders–is aligned with the leftist bloc, adding to its votes. The deadlock makes it impossible to form the parliament’s bureau and commissions, thereby precluding any legislative work.
KUCHMA TO INTRODUCE REFORMS BY DECREE.