Orange Coalition Appears Headed for Victory in Ukraine

After several fitful starts and stops where the major players in the pro-democracy Orange Coalition had a falling out and a pro-Russian government derailed efforts to bring Ukraine closer to the west, the latest parliamentary voting appears to have brought victory to a newly energized "Orange Revolution:"

A pro-Western democratic coalition appeared headed for victory in parliamentary elections yesterday, dominating a vote that will decide finally whether the country aligns itself with Russia or the West.

But the narrow margin and complex balance of parties suggest a difficult period of coalition-building will be needed before the winners can press ahead with reforms promised during the 2004 Orange Revolution.

"No one can make less of or demean the victory for the country," said a triumphant opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko after the release of exit polls showing she and her coalition partners would have enough seats to form a government.

"Hurray, all is well."
Yes, "all is well" - for the moment. Former Prime Mnister Tymoshenko who was fired in 2005 by her coalition partner President Victor Yushchenko, signed an agreement of understanding with the President's party outlining several important reforms that both will work for as part of a coalition government.

These include eventual membership in the European Union as well as NATO and market reforms that would allow the Ukraine to join the World Trade Organization.

All of this would bring Ukraine closer to the west - if Putin allows it. The Russian president has a few arrows left in his quiver - including virtual control of oil and gas supplies flowing into Ukraine - that might temper the enthusiasm for some of the proposed reforms.

Regardless, this is good news for Europe and good news for the west if the Orange Coalition can turn their election victory into tangible moves toward closer relations with our allies.