Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 144

Assessing the results of the first session of the new Ukrainian parliament, Socialist leader and political aspirant Oleksandr Moroz spoke of the emergence of a “third force” in Ukrainian politics–describing it as consisting of his own Socialist Party, the latter’s close ally the Peasant Party, the United Social-Democrat Party (USDP) of former President Leonid Kravchuk and former Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk, and the Hromada Union of former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko. According to Moroz, this “third force” is positioned between the “left-wing conservatism of the Communists” and the “right-wing conservatism of the Rukh… The third force can recast the country’s political spectrum and I intend to take part in this process.”

Moroz predicted that the 1999 presidential contest will see the “extraordinary phenomenon” of President Leonid Kuchma seeking reelection as the exponent of a “right-wing bloc.” Moroz suggested that the “third force” designate its presidential candidate, then agree with the Communist Party on a common candidacy against the right. He estimated at US$100 million to US$300 million the campaign expenses for the upcoming election. (Ukrainian agencies, July 25; Eastern Economist Daily (Kyiv), July 27)

Moroz’ way of configuring the political forces amounts to a thinly veiled call for a broad coalition in support of his own presidential candidacy. He is thereby unveiling a strategy of casting himself as leader of “center-left” forces while tagging Kuchma as “rightist”–a label usually reserved by leftists for reformers. This strategy exacerbates Kuchma’s predicament of promoting unpopular reforms ahead of the presidential election. However, Moroz seems prematurely optimistic that the USDP would fall into his line. USDP’s Marchuk is a presidential aspirant and may well challenge Kuchma, but he is hardly likely to make common cause with the Communists in the process. The USDP’s stance will be pivotal to Moroz’ ability to portray his coalition as “center-left” rather than simply leftist.