Ukraine elections: pro-Europe parties take the lead

Pro-Russian eastern provinces boycotted the poll

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The Independent Online

Pro-Western parties were heading for victory today in Ukraine’s parliamentary elections, keeping the nation’s integration with the European Union on track but widening the gulf with the largely pro-Russian eastern provinces which boycotted the poll.

Instead of voting on Sunday, many people in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions stayed indoors to avoid the shelling that has become a daily occurrence as Ukrainian government forces battle pro-Russian insurgents. Separatist leaders in the rebel strongholds plan their own leadership poll on 2 November.

Elsewhere, most of the 36 million people registered to vote backed parties advocating closer ties to the EU, giving President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk a mandate to push through the tough reforms needed to cement their relationship with the West. This will include measures to curb corruption and overhaul an economy damaged by decades of mismanagement.

 

Coalition talks began between Mr Yatsenyuk’s Popular Front and Mr Poroshenko’s bloc, each of which won about 21 per cent of the vote, according to partial results. “The main task is quickly to form a pro-European coalition for carrying out agreements with the EU,” Mr Yatseniuk said. Another pro-EU party, Samopomich, won about 11 per cent of the vote.

Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, hailed the “courage and democratic resolve” of the people of Ukraine, which he traced back to the Maidan protests that toppled ex-president Viktor Yanukovych in February. “The most serious existential crisis in Ukrainian history has mobilised Ukrainians like never before, forging a real political nation,” he said.

The Kremlin views the political process in Ukraine differently, having accused protesters of illegally overthrowing Mr Yanukovych. Yesterday, however, there were conciliatory signs from Moscow. Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said: “I think we will recognise this election because it is very important for us that Ukraine finally will have authorities which deal with the problems facing the country.”

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