BRAMA - Parties Registered for the March 1998
Election in Ukraine-General Analysis

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The following information was obtained from various sources deemed reliable including Holos Ukrainy, RFE/RL, UN and IMF publications, Den, however, responsiblities for errors are our own. Please report any errors of commission and omission to BRAMA.
Political Landscape
The Kuchma-Lazarenko feud stands out against a rather blurred political landscape of 30--mainly tiny--parties and blocs competing in the 29 March Supreme Soviet election. This year half of the 450 deputies will be elected on party lists, rather than as individual candidates running in districts--thus copying the Russian State Duma system. Last time all Ukrainian deputies were elected in territorial districts, resulting in prominent local figures usually with no party ties winning seats and parties playing a weak role. Even though 200,000 signatures were required to register for the election this time, 30 parties and blocs qualified, and their party lists were published in the Supreme Soviet paper Holos Ukrainy during December and January. Few of the parties will actually make it into the Supreme Soviet since they must win at least 4 percent of the vote to be awarded any of the party list seats (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 25 December 1997).

The party lists provide insight into the orientation and makeup of the parties and their prospects for success, and the following analysis, as well as an Appendix identifying the parties, is largely based on examining these lists of candidates.

The parties range from the Communist Party (CPU), Socialist Party-Peasant Party (SPU-SelPU), and more radical Progressive- Socialist Party on the left to the moderate nationalist Rukh and National Front and extreme nationalist Ukrainian National Assembly (UNA) and Social Nationalists' "Less Talk" on the right. Most parties, including Hromada, are in the center, but only a few of these are likely to be significant.

Pro-Kuchma Parties
Among these parties, the most pro-Kuchma parties are the Agrarians, DemPU, Labor-Liberal, NDP, and Slon. Nezavisimaya Gazeta (24 December 1997) listed the pro-presidential parties as the NDP, Agrarians, Democratic Party (DemPU-NEP), the United Social Democrats (SDPU-o), Christian Democrats, and Labor-Liberal bloc. Den (13 December 1997) called the Party of Regional Rebirth, the Reforms and Order Party, Labor-Liberal bloc, Working Ukraine, and DemPU-NEP pro- presidential. The Slon bloc, led by Kuchma aide Volodymyr Hrynyov, also belongs in this category.

The centrists have made half-hearted attempts to cooperate with each other, and Kuchma--who has said he would not support any individual party but would work with all centrist parties (UNIAN, 24 October 1997)--has made some efforts to unite them against the Communists. Kuchma on 15 September met with leaders of centrist parties--the NDP, the Interregional Bloc of Reforms (MER), Liberal Party, Agrarian Party, Slon, and DemPU-Mist(see Note 5) Association- -to discuss nomination of Supreme Soviet candidates (Den, 20 September 1997). In early October Kuchma persuaded the heads of several centrist parties--DemPU, the NDP, Christian Democratic, Agrarian, United Social-Democratic, Greens, and Labor Parties, and the Interregional Bloc of Reforms--to sign a "Memorandum on Joint Actions" in the coming election, to "exert more pressure on the Communists," as Kuchma said. The Liberal Party, Party of Justice, and Slon declined to sign, however, feeling that the memorandum appeared to commit them to supporting the president (Den, 4 October 1997). Kuchma's cooperation with centrist parties notably excludes Hromada.

The Semi-Opposition
The lines between government and opposition are blurred by the fact that some government officials are running on the tickets of so-called opposition parties, suggesting their opposition to Kuchma is not all that sharp. Nezavisimaya Gazeta (24 December 1997) identified the opposition as the CPU, SPU-SelPU, Rukh, and Hromada. The United Social Democrats (SDPU o) are sometimes considered opposition also because they are led by former President Kravchuk and former Premier Marchuk, both rivals and critics of Kuchma. But the United Social Democrats, Rukh, and the Socialists have mixed attitudes and ties to the Kuchma administration. Rukh is neither anti-Kuchma nor pro-Kuchma, and the pro-Marchuk paper Den (13 December 1997) recently accused Rukh of becoming a "party of government support."

The Real Opposition
The real opposition to Kuchma is the CPU and Hromada, whose lists do not include any Kuchma officials. The CPU is the largest party, but Nezavisimaya Gazeta (24 December 1997) declared that Hromada "has objectively turned into the most powerful and real opposition" to the regime. Although extreme leftists (the Progressive Socialist Party) and extreme nationalists (Ukrainian National Assembly - UNA), and Social Nationalists-"Less Talk") are on the surface more opposed to Kuchma, Nezavisimaya Gazeta (24 December 1997), citing Ukrainian press reports, claimed that "pro-presidential financial circles" were aiding the Progressive Socialists and UNA in order to undermine the CPU and Rukh.

Prospects for Success
Almost all parties and blocs are tiny, and probably only the Communists, Rukh, Socialists, and Hromada have organization, name- recognition, and money. Polls show these parties with the strongest support, although parties' support among business interests and the press can also play an important role.

Poll Projections. A 30 December Den phone poll of citizens combined with the judgment of experts and journalists rated the Communist Party first, Rukh second, the SPU-SelPU bloc third, the United Social-Democratic Party and Hromada tied for fourth, the NDP sixth, the Agrarian Party seventh, DemPU-NEP eighth, the National Front nineth, and the extreme leftist Progressive Socialist Party tenth. A similar 25-29 January poll by Den kept the same order for the first seven, but had the Liberal Party eighth, the Reforms and Order bloc nineth, and Slon tenth (Den, 31 January). Ukraina Moloda (25 December 1997) published a "subjective" estimate that the CPU would win 21 percent, SPU-SelPU 9 percent, Rukh 7 percent, and the NDP, United Social Democrats, and Hromada 4-5 percent. Supreme Soviet Chairman Oleksandr Moroz said he expects seven or eight parties to win enough votes to get into the Supreme Soviet: the CPU, SPU-SelPU, Rukh, United Social Democrats, DemPU, Greens, and Agrarians (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 2 December 1997).

Organization. Demonstrating the most organizational strength, the Communist Party and Hromada were the only parties to nominate full slates of 225 candidates, while Rukh and the SPU-SelPU nominated 224, and the Labor-Liberal bloc 219. The Reforms and Order Party put up 191, the NDP 189, Agrarians 188, United Social Democrats 185, the National Front 181, and DemPU 172. Among the 3,605 candidates nominated for territorial seats, the Communist Party is most strongly represented, with 9.8 percent of the candidates, followed by Hromada (9.5 percent), Rukh (6.8 percent), SPU (4.6 percent), and the Ukrainian Republican Party with 3.2 percent (UNIAN, 3 February).

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