Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Ukrainian Party of Regions

The Ukrainian Party of Regions political party was created in March 2001.

It originally supported president Leonid Kuchma and joined the pro-government United Ukraine alliance during the parliamentary elections on 30 March 2002. The party's current leader is Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

Its power base, both electoral and financial is located primarily in the east and south-east of Ukraine. In the Eastern Ukrainian Donetsk Oblast the party claims to have over 700,000 members.

The party shifted its political ideology to the left and became much more populist in nature before the Ukrainian presidential election, 2004 and, as a result, Yanukovych won over a large part of the Communist party's electorate in eastern Ukraine. The party announced support for making Russian a second official language in Ukraine, a pro-Russian foreign policy, and increased social spending. It also advocates the regionalist ideology, and many members support making Ukraine a federation.

The Party of Regions moved to opposition after its candidate, Viktor Yanukovych, lost the 2004 presidential election. The party leader first claimed an electoral victory but strong allegations of electoral fraud triggered a series of events commonly known as the Orange Revolution. In the re-run of the presidential election ordered by the country's Supreme Court, Viktor Yanukovych lost the election to Viktor Yushchenko.

In the parliamentary elections of 26 March 2006, the party gained 32,12% of votes and 186 (out of 450) seats in the Verkhovna Rada, forming the largest parliamentary group.

In mid-2007, the Ukrainian Republican Party and Labour Ukraine merged into the Party of Regions.

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