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30 March 2006

Ukraine's 'orange revolution' goes pear-shaped

LAST SUNDAY'S general election in Ukraine saw pro-Western president Yushchenko's party humiliatingly beaten into third place with an expected 17% of the vote.

In the lead is the party of former president, the pro-Russian Victor Yanukovich, with 27%. It was only one year ago that Yanukovich was forced to step down as president after a fraudulent ballot led to a mass opposition movement known as the 'Orange Revolution'.

But Yushchenko's rule has been characterised by a failure to deal with endemic state corruption and to raise living standards. Yushchenko also dismissed his prime minister and one-time ally, Yulia Tymoshenko.

Now bitter rivals, Tymoshenko's party is expected to win around 24%. Significantly, there was a high abstention rate. CWI supporters in the Ukraine called for a 'no party' vote.

Much political 'horse trading' will ensue before a new government is formed. But the result is a spanner in the works for Western governments who wanted Ukraine to move closer to the EU and to join NATO.

See for background article.

Left success in Germany

ON 26 March, there were local council elections in the German state of Hessen, where several left alliances stood in nearly all city councils.

In Kassel, a joint list of the new left party WASG, PDS, Socialist Alternative (SAV, the German section of the CWI, the international organisation to which the Socialist Party is affiliated), some immigrant organisations and individuals stood under the banner: 'Kassel Left for Work and Social Justice' with demands such as no cuts and no privatisation in the local hospital.

The Kassel Left got 6.8%, one of the best results in Hessen. Five councillors were elected, one of them Nico Weinmann, a member of SAV.