Viktor Yushchenko versus Yulia Tymoshenko: who will win parliamentary elections?

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and his former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, who fought shoulder to shoulder in last year's Orange Revolution, will become bitter rivals in the March parliamentary election, analysts predicted Tuesday.

There is more at stake in next year's parliamentary vote, since new constitutional changes will give parliament the right to choose the prime minister, whose authority will rival that of the president.

Yet unlike the 2004 presidential election, in which Yushchenko competed as an opposition leader against a candidate backed by then-president Leonid Kuchma, the March election will pit his party, Our Ukraine, against Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko, after Yushchenko sacked the premier last week amid allegations of corruption.

"It will be a fight for the values of Maidan (Independence Square), a fight over who is more honest, who is less corrupt, this will constitute the main intrigue of the election," said Vadim Karasyov, director of the Institute on Global Strategies.

Although Tymoshenko has pledged to avoid "war" with Yushchenko, Vladimir Kornilov, head of the Center for Strategic Planning, predicted the two would become harsh opponents, since Yushchenko is likely to start firing some regional leaders who back Tymoshenko.

Some experts suggested that the charismatic Tymoshenko, who with her eloquent speeches and ethnic Ukrainian-style hairdo has become the symbol of the Orange Revolution, may defeat Yushchenko's party.

"Yulia Tymoshenko has all the chances to become the main figure of the election campaign," said Vladimir Malinkovich, a senior analyst with the International Institute on Humanitarian and Political Studies.

The analysts predicted that none of Ukraine's political parties would win a majority of votes in the March election and they would have to unite in coalitions to form a parliamentary majority and pick the prime minister.

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