Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 4

The Social-Democrat Party is not to be confused with the United Social-Democrat Party, whose electoral slate is headed by former president Leonid Kravchuk and former prime minister Yevhen Marchuk. While those two protagonists of the establishment have adopted the social-democrat label primarily as a matter of political convenience, the Social-Democrat Party is a more genuine left-of-center organization, linked to some trade unions and acting in opposition to all parts of the political establishment. However, the SDP does support Ukrainian national independence and is European-oriented, unlike most of the left.

SDP leader and top candidate Yury Buzduhan, an ethnic Moldovan from northern Bukovina, chairs the Ukrainian parliament’s Social and Labor Affairs Committee. Seconding him on the party’s electoral slate are the SDP parliamentary group leader Mykola Karnaukh and the chairmen of three major trade unions: Automobile and Agricultural Machinery, Shipbuilding, and Electronics industries. The SDP’s platform denounces the "ruling circles" in general for "appropriating the national wealth" and turning Ukrainians into "cheap labor" for the benefit of privileged groups. The platform does not appear to propose any real economic solutions to the country’s problems. It does call for a social partnership among labor, government, and entrepreneurs in order to seek such solutions; and it urges support for national producers and freedom of genuine entrepreneurship. The platform also demands prompt repayment of overdue wages. (DINAU, November 4; UNIAN, December 3 and 17, 1997)

That last demand could be a sure vote-getter for any party if it were not duplicated by a number of them. This point illustrates the SDP’s image problem. The party seeks to carve out a niche for itself to the right of the Socialist Party and somewhat to the left of the Kravchuk-Marchuk United Social-Democrats, who have unsuccessfully sought to attract the SDP into an electoral alliance. Further narrowing the SDP’s room for maneuver, the official and generally pro-government Federation of Labor Unions is competing on a separate electoral slate, topped by FLU chairman Oleksandr Stoyan. The SDP, disadvantaged in terms of finances and media access, faces difficult competition on the crowded left-of-center segment of the political spectrum.

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