Iulia Timoshenko’s calls for social justice and her condemnation of Ukraine’s all-powerful oligarchy earn her rapturous applause in her strongholds.
Timoshenko is a gifted orator. She used her talents at every opportunity in September’s tightly-fought election battle. Her message remained the same throughout the campaign: “In this parliament there can only be a democratic coalition. That’s all. Only Our Ukraine and our team. Only then will we be able to see just what Ukraine needs.”
Timoshenko is a nationalist. It is by pledging to ensure continued independence for Ukraine that she hopes to win back the confidence of those who are disillusioned with the Orange revolution.
Timoshenko’s popularity grew when she backed Viktor Yushchenko in his battle to get the 2004 presidential elections annulled because of fraud and corruption. The nationwide protests that became known as the Orange Revolution brought victory for Yushchenko and his supporters, and the election results were annulled. Timoshenko made it clear that she wanted to become Prime Minister: “I do want to be prime minister because I know what has to be done. I know that if this power is in my hands then the people will know that they can expect results from me”.
Once president, Yushchenko nominated Timoshenko as Prime Minister. In February 2005 she won the approval of the Ukrainian parliament and pledged to make the country a success. Less than eight months later, the Yushchenko-Timoshenko partnership hit the rails. The Prime Minister was sacked.
Timoshenko may have a way with words, but many now doubt her ability to implement her promises.
Yushchenko and Timoshenko came to a reconciliation just days before the September elections. They continue to show a united political front, but commentators see this as a pure “marriage of convenience”.