Left parties made significant gains in parliamentary elections in Ukraine and Lithuania held on Sunday reinforcing a shift to the Left in voters’ moods in Europe.
In elections to Verhovna Rada in Ukraine, the Communist Party increased its support almost threefold compared with the previous poll five years ago. With more than 50 per cent of the votes counted, Communists won close to 15 per cent coming in third after the ruling Party of the Regions and the pro-Western opposition bloc of “orange” ex-premier Yulia Timoshenko.
Communists are expected to form an alliance with the Party of the Regions led by Prime Minister Victor Yanukovich, which is likely to fill more than a half of the seats in the 450-member legislature, but will fall short of a two-thirds constitutional majority.
The swing to the Left was even more dramatic in another former Soviet Republic, Lithuania. The Social Democrats, who finished second in the first round of parliamentary elections two weeks ago, emerged victorious on Sunday, defeating the centre-right Homeland Union of Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius. Together with two other left-wing coalition members, the Labour Party and the Order and Justice Party, the Social Democrats will control 79 seats in the 171-member Seimas.
The Left’s gains in Ukraine and Lithuania came on the heels of elections in the Czech Republic earlier this month, where Social Democrats cemented their control of the upper house, the Senate, putting the centre-right government on the brink of collapse.
In Russia too, the Left made big gains in the parliamentary elections last December, with Communists and left-leaning Just Russia party almost doubling their result.
“Europe today is leftist, Europe chooses the socialist path of development,” Ukraine’s Communist leader Petr Simonenko declared triumphantly.