Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 188

The leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Party (UDP) Volodymyr Yavorivsky has warned that if the national-democratic forces fail to unite, the left wing “will have a colossal advantage” in the run-up to the presidential elections of 1999. The usually personally ambitious Yavorivsky even proposed to resign as the leader of his party if this would help the center-right parties to unite (Ukrainian agencies, October 12). On October 11, however, the nationalist Ukrainian Republican Party (URP)had replaced Bohdan Yaroshynsky, its leader since 1995, with the head of the URP Lviv organization, Oleksandr Shandryuk. Yaroshynsky wanted to join forces with other national democrats, including the UDP and the Rukh, to nominate a single candidate in the upcoming elections (Ukrainian television, October 11, Den, October 13).

The parliamentary elections of March 29 showed that the Ukrainian National Democrats, the driving force behind the independence of 1991, need to reassess their priorities and unite to remain afloat. Of all the numerous right-wing parties, only the Rukh managed to get to the parliament from the proportional constituency. Popular support for the URP and the two other nationalist parties united in the National Front bloc–the Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Conservative Republican Party–fell far below the 4 percent barrier. A bloc of democratic parties headed by Yavorivsky, despite support from President Kuchma and state-controlled media, garnered only slightly over 1 percent of the popular vote. The Ukrainian right, traditionally giving priority to language and culture, and virtually neglecting the burning economic issues, were doomed to failure in the densely populated Russian-speaking east and south of Ukraine. These areas voted for the left. The Right’s small proportion of support was confined to the western regions.

Bohdan Boyko, first nominated as a presidential candidate by the Rukh, demonstrated a new understanding of right-wing priorities. In an interview with RFE/RL October 12 he said that if the Rukh changes its attitude to socio-economic problems, it might even attract a portion of the Communist Party electorate. –OV