Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko is facing his first electoral test since being swept to power in the so-called Orange Revolution. Voting has begun in the country’s parliamentary elections, and if the opinion polls are correct there could be a change of government.
Observers say Yushchenko’s popularity has been hit by a sluggish economy, political infighting and allegations of corruption. Polls indicate that his “Our Ukraine” party is expected to come in second place. That could force him to work with the likes of Yulia Tymoshenko, whom he sacked as prime minister last year. Her party is ranked in third place in the polls.
The Regions Party of Moscow-backed Viktor Yanukovich is widely tipped by the pollsters to take the biggest share of the vote. That would be a dramatic turn around for the former President, defeated by Yushchenko in a presidential re-run after Orange Revolution street protests. Some 37-million voters are on the electoral roll.