Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 46

Two factions in the Ukrainian parliament–the Hromada (founded by former Premier Pavlo Lazarenko) and the Peasant Party (led informally by former parliament speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko)–were disbanded on February 29. Neither faction was able to meet the minimum requirement of fourteen members. Both once played a pivotal role in the Verkhovna Rada, shifting the balance of forces either in favor of the pro-presidential forces or to the benefit of the Communists. More often than not, both, especially the Peasants, sided with the Communists. The last time the Peasant Party did so was not only probably their last, but also fruitless attempt to prevent Kuchma’s center-right factions from gaining a parliamentary majority, which majority was achieved on January 13 (see the Monitor, January 21, February 3).

On February 29, the nucleus of the disbanded Peasant Party faction, including the party’s chairman, Serhy Dovhan, joined Solidarity, a new group in the Rada. Solidarity leaders announced that its ideology is leftist, but that it will join the center-right majority regardless. Solidarity consists, along with the Peasant Party members, of six former members of the United Social Democratic Party (USDP) faction–one of the strongest groups in the majority–and several dissenters from other factions, including the Communist Party. The group is co-chaired by Dovhan and a chocolate magnate, Petro Poroshenko, who broke with the USDP.

Solidarity may serve as a bridge to the majority for those leftists who would like to break with the inflexible line of the Communists and, at the same time, do not want to lose face by joining one of the “oligarchic” majority groups, such as USDP, Regional Revival or Motherland. This is another heavy blow to the dwindling Red minority, who are continuously and rapidly losing their leverage in parliament. Commenting on the Peasants’ joining Solidarity, Socialist Party chairman Oleksandr Moroz, a leftist minority leader, lamented that leftists are being snatched out of the minority ranks one by one by those who want to appease President Leonid Kuchma and forestall the parliament dissolution (UNIAN, February 29; Zerkalo nedeli, March 4).

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