Just as it seemed certain that Ukraine’s ‘orange’ coalition would return to power under former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the Socialist party has defected. Earlier, Socialist leader Oleksander Moroz had threatened to walk out if he did not get the speakership of parliament. At the time, I suggested he was over-playing his hand: that, while the orange coalition could not form without his party, his party would be in opposition without the orange partners.
However, what I did not count on–and apparently, neither did his orange partners–was that both Moroz and 2004 presidential loser Viktor Yanukovych would be willing to deal with the Communist Party. Now the Communist (21 seats), Socialist (34), and Yanukovych’s Party of Regions (180) claim to have a majority coalition ready, with Yanukovych as prime minister.
The orange deal unravelled when a group of Socialists refused to vote for the candidate of Yushchenko’s party to be speaker of parliament.
If this proposed opposition coalition really has formed, it is a stunning blow to Yushchenko. He somehow managed to lose what should have been a pivotal position, and will be forced to yield the bulk of governmental powers to a government that will be much friendlier to Russia. He would be a lame duck less than two years after the so-called Orange Revolution.
This may not be the last word in the matter, but the clock will run out soon on this parliament. If its proposed prime minister has failed to form a govenment by 20 July, the president has the right to dissolve parliament and set a new election.