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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 December, 2004, 14:44 GMT
Analysis: Ukraine's compromise deal
By Steven Eke
BBC regional analyst

All sides in Ukraine's political stand-off have praised the compromise deal reached in parliament on Wednesday.

Ukraine's parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn (left) and outgoing President Leonid Kuchma hold the signed text of the amendments
The deal was hailed as a major breakthrough

In the short-term, it defuses the considerable tensions in Ukraine caused by the recent, fraudulent presidential elections.

In the longer-term, the deal sets out changes that will have far-reaching implications.

Key among them is a major shift in who wields real authority in the country.

Weeks of political drama have culminated in a compromise that may alter the face of Ukrainian politics.

The opposition has achieved its aims of new electoral laws, the replacement of the central electoral commission, and the dismissal of the prosecutor general.

These changes further increase the likelihood of the opposition leader, Viktor Yushchenko, becoming president after the 26 December poll.

And the opposition's parliamentary victory suggests that there is a viable political mechanism in Ukraine, despite warnings over the last few years that the outgoing president, Leonid Kuchma, had fatally weakened it.

PM v president

But over the longer-term, the constitutional changes are more significant.

Yushchenko's supporters show V-signs outside the parliament in Kiev
Pro-Yushchenko supporters vow to continue their rallies in Kiev
Ukraine is set to move away from a presidential system to a parliamentary one.

The crucial difference in the new system will be that prime minister - the individual making the day-to-day decisions - will have greater executive authority than at present.

This constitutional model is much more like that seen in the established democracies.

Shifting allegiance

But the constitutional changes do not mean everything will be smooth for Mr Yushchenko, should he become president.

Importantly, his relations with parliament will not be easy.

His party does not have an overall majority, and he will have to go through a robust political process to appoint the cabinet he wants.

As these structural changes take shape, influential parts of Ukraine's political and financial elites are shifting their allegiances, perhaps aware that, ahead of the repeat election, real power is effectively changing hands.


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