Orange forces to dominate in Ukraine's parliament

Political parties that backed Viktor Yushchenko in the 2004 Orange Revolution that brought him into the presidency have won a majority of seats in parliament, officials said Friday. But deep divisions among the parties leave in doubt whether Yushchenko can count on wide support for his agenda, lawmakers said.

Final results of the parliamentary election released late Thursday showed the Party of Regions, led by Yushchenko's Orange Revolution foe Viktor Yanukovych, was the top vote-getter with about 33 percent. That translates into 186 seats in the 450-member parliament, officials said Friday. But the three parties that supported Yushchenko during the Orange Revolution, received 243 seats a numerical majority. Yushchenko has come under growing pressure to reunite with his estranged Orange Revolution partner, Yulia Tymoshenko, rather than reach out to Yanukovych, whose fraud-marred attempt to capture the presidency in 2004 triggered massive street demonstrations.

The president, however, appears to be keeping his options open and his party has said there won't be a decision until key members meet on April 7 to discuss their options. "We will not support the president's slogans if they are just slogans," said Mikhaylo Volynets, a Tymoshenko ally.

Yushchenko's ally Yuriy Klyuchkovsky expressed confidence that Yushchenko's reformist and pro-European course would be continued, but noted that much depends on support from Tymoshenko, whose party came second, winning 129 seats. Yushchenko's party followed behind with just 14 percent, winning 81 seats.

Yushchenko regularly ran into trouble getting measures through the last parliament, seeing them blocked by a strong Communist faction and groups of smaller, anti-government parties that would unite on key issues. The Communists had their worst showing ever in Sunday's race, winning only one-sixth of the vote that they received in the 2002 elections. Also, many of the smaller, anti-government parties failed to make it over the 3 percent barrier to enter parliament, reports the AP.

N.U.