Poroshenko planned to start coalition talks on Monday after exit
polls and partial results showed most of the groups that were
holding up democratic and legal reforms demanded by the European
Union had been swept out of parliament on Sunday.
He still faces huge problems: Russia is resisting moves by Kiev to
one day join the European Union, a ceasefire is barely holding in
the east where government forces have been fighting pro-Russian
separatists, and the economy is in dire straits.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin can still influence events, not
least as the main backer of the rebels in the east and through
Moscow's role as natural gas supplier to Ukraine and the EU.
But with his own bloc and a party led by his ally, Prime Minister
Arseny Yatseniuk, running neck and neck on more than 21 percent
support after more than a quarter of votes on party lists were
counted, Poroshenko is assured of dominating parliament.
"The majority of voters were in favour of the political forces that
support the president's peace plan and seek a political solution to
the situation in the Donbass," Poroshenko said soon after polls
closed, referring to the region where fighting has been heaviest in
the industrialised east.
Final results from voting on party lists and single-seat
constituencies will not be known for days. But with a third
like-minded party, Selfhelp, on 11 percent with 38 percent of votes
counted, Poroshenko can forge a strong coalition government.
The 49-year-old confectionery magnate is likely to continue working
in close tandem with Yatseniuk, with the latter possibly staying on
as prime minister to handle sensitive talks with the West on aid for
the war-shattered economy.
A hawk in dealings with Russia, Yatseniuk is liked in the West for
his commitment to deep reforms and astute stewardship of the economy
which has been wrecked by the separatist conflict in the eastern
The Kiev government says it is hoping for modest economic growth
next year after a 6 percent decline in 2014, but the World Bank
expects the economy to continue shrinking.
In line with measures agreed with the IMF, Yatseniuk's government
has cut budget expenditure and let the Ukrainian hryvnia float. The
currency has lost about 40 percent of its value against the dollar
since the start of the year.
Timothy Ash, emerging market analyst at Standard Bank, described the
result as a "big vote for the Western reform agenda". Yatseniuk was
well placed to remain prime minister, though his success would be
"negatively received by Russia", Ash wrote in a research note.
"This is a big victory for pro-Ukrainian and statehood (anti-Putin)
parties, which will be in the vast majority in the new parliament. A
big vote for Ukrainian independence."
HOPES OF ENDING TURMOIL
Poroshenko and his allies are trying to restore normalcy to the
sprawling country of 46 million after turmoil and violence that
began a year ago with street demonstrations against Poroshenko's
pro-Russian predecessor Viktor Yanukovich.
Yanukovich was overthrown in February in what Russia called a
"fascist coup". Moscow responded by swiftly seizing and annexing
Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and backing separatist rebellions in
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More than 3,700 people have died in fighting in the east, including
nearly 300 passengers on a Malaysian airliner shot out of the sky
over pro-Russian rebel-held territory.
Moscow has also cut off gas
supplies to Ukraine in a dispute over the price and unpaid bills,
causing alarm in the EU which gets a third of its gas needs from
Russia, half of it via Ukraine.
Heavy shelling on the outskirts of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk
in the east on Monday served as a reminder of the fragility of a
ceasefire agreed there on Sept. 5, though there was no word of any
Some allies of Yanukovich will remain in parliament: the latest
figures put the Opposition Bloc of ex-Fuel Minister Yuriy Boiko on
9.76 percent, easily enough to put the party into parliament.
But other traditional allies of Russia, such as the communists,
flopped. The make-up of the future pro-Europe assembly seemed likely
to spell future tensions with Moscow.
It will be the first time the communists have been out of parliament
since Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
After months of beating back the separatists, Ukraine's troops faced
sharp reversals in August, which Kiev and its Western backers say
was caused by Moscow sending armoured columns with hundreds of
troops to aid the rebels. Moscow denies intervening directly on the
Since then, Poroshenko has said he will resolve the conflict in the
east only by political negotiations. NATO says Russia is still
supporting the rebels in the east with soldiers and equipment.
In an early reaction to the vote, Russia's foreign ministry said the
election offered a chance for peace in its east but that a high
number of "nationalists" in the chamber could undermine the process,
RIA news agency reported.
Voting did not take place in areas held by the rebels or in Crimea.
Separatists entrenched in the big eastern cities of Donetsk and
Luhansk said they were ignoring the Ukrainian election and still
planned to go ahead with a rival vote on Nov. 2 to further their
calls for independence.
(Additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets,; and
Thomas Grove in Donetsk; Editing by Peter Graff)
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