Yulia Tymoshenko Ukraine's 13th Prime Minister

Tue 8 Feb 2005

The day after his inauguration on 23 January, Yushchenko designated the firebrand politician Yulia Tymoshenko as acting prime minister. On 4 February Ukraine's parliament confirmed Tymoshenko in the post by a resounding and unprecedented 373 votes out of a possible 450. The overwhelming vote for Tymoshenko reflects just how resounding was the defeat of former President Leonid Kuchma and his handpicked successor Viktor Yanukovych following the heady events of the "Orange Revolution."

Yushchenko's own faction, Our Ukraine, which remains the largest with 101 deputies; Tymoshenko's eponymous party has 18; and another Yushchenko supporter, Socialist Party chairman Oleksandr Moroz, controls 21. New parliamentary elections, together with local elections, are due in just over a year's time, and much of what Tymoshenko's government does until then will help draw the contours of the new parliament.

The former government's supporters are in complete disarray. Political groupings that provided close support to Kuchma, such as the Party of Regions and the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (United), have been bleeding members of parliament profusely. Since November, the Party of Regions has lost 12 parliamentarians out of 66, and 17 deputies have left the SDPU(o) faction, which once numbered 50. The Workers' Ukraine party, headed by Yanukovych's former campaign manager Serhiy Tyhipko, collapsed entirely after losing 43 deputies, then revived through a merger with the People's Democratic Party. That failed to stem the losses, however; the united faction has since lost four out of 18 parliamentarians.Following a meeting of the SDPU(o)'s governing council on 25 January, party chairman Viktor Medvedchuk announced it was going into opposition, the only party to formally do so. During the 4 February vote on Tymoshenko, however, 18 of the 23 SDPU(o) members present voted to confirm her as prime minister.