Political parties in Ukraine

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This article presents the historical development and role of political parties in Ukrainian politics, and outlines more extensively the significant modern political parties since Ukraine gained independence in 1991.


Ukraine has a multi-party system with numerous political parties, in which no one party often has a chance of gaining power alone, and parties must work with each other to form coalition governments. In the (October 2014 and last) Ukrainian parliamentary election 52 political parties nominated candidates.[1] In the last nationwide (October 2015) local elections this number had grown to 132 political parties.[2]

Many parties in Ukraine have very small memberships and are unknown to the general public. Party membership in Ukraine is lower than 1% of the population eligible to vote (compared to an average 4.7% in the European Union[3]).[4][5] National parties currently not represented in Ukraine’s national parliament Verkhovna Rada do have representatives in municipal counsels.[6][7][8][9] Small parties used to join in multi-party coalitions (electoral blocks) for the purpose of participating in parliamentary elections; but on November 17, 2011 the Ukrainian Parliament approved an election law that banned the participation of blocs of political parties in parliamentary elections.[10] Ukrainian society's trust of political parties is very low overall.[11] According to an April 2014 poll by Razumkov Centre 14.7%.[12]

Legal framework

Parties can only register with the Ministry of Justice if they can "demonstrate a base of support in two-thirds of Ukraine's Oblasts" (Ukraine's 24 primary administrative units).[13] Then within six months the party must establish regional offices in a majority of the 24 oblasts.[14] In practice these offices rarely stay active and open in-between elections.[14]

Ukraine’s election law forbids outside financing of political parties or campaigns.[15]

Major parties and political camps

There have developed two major movements[nb 1][nb 2] in the Ukrainian parliament since its independence:[18][19][20]

The first movement (mentioned above) gets its voters mainly from Western Ukraine and Central Ukraine; the latter from Eastern Ukraine and Southern Ukraine.[30] The radical nationalistic[31] All-Ukrainian Union "Svoboda" (7 seats in the Ukrainian parliament[27]) can not be placed in the above-mentioned two major movements.[19] "Svoboda" gets the lion share of its votes from Western Ukraine.[32]

Political camps[33]
pro-Western and pro-European general liberal switching pro-Russian, latently Eurosceptic, often anti-American and partly anti-liberal
Petro Poroshenko Bloc
Self Reliance
Radical Party
People's Movement of Ukraine
Ukrainian Republican Party
Ukrainian Social Democratic Party (before 2012)
Forward, Ukraine!
Ukrainian People's Party
People's Front
Republican Christian Party
Reforms and Order Party
Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists
Our Ukraine
European Party of Ukraine
Socialist Party of Ukraine
Party of Greens of Ukraine
Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (United)
People's Democratic Party
Agrarian Party of Ukraine
Christian Democratic Union
Liberal Party of Ukraine
Youth Party of Ukraine
Solidarity (phantom party[34])
Motherland Defenders Party
Communist Party of Ukraine
Opposition Bloc
Our Land
Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine
Peasant Party of Ukraine
Party of Regions
Strong Ukraine
Labour Ukraine
Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Ukraine
Ukraine – Forward!


Ukrainian parties tend not to have a clear ideology but to contain different political groups with diverging ideological outlooks.[35] Unlike in Western politics, civilizational and geostrategic orientations play a more important role than economic and socio-political agendas for parties.[19] This has led to coalition governments that would be unusual from a Western point of view; for example: the Azarov Government which included the Party of Regions with the financial backing of some Ukrainian oligarchs and the Communist Party of Ukraine and the social-democratic Batkivshchyna and the economically liberal European Party of Ukraine in the Second Tymoshenko Government.[19]

Criticism on current situation

Professor Paul D'Anieri has argued (in 2006) that Ukrainian parties are "elite-based rather than mass-based".[36] While former Ambassador of Germany to Ukraine (2000–2006) Dietmar Studemann believes that personalities are more important in Ukrainian politics than (ideological) platforms. "Parties in the proper meaning of this word do not exist in Ukraine so far. A party for Germans is its platform first, and its personalities later."[37]


Number of parties
Date Amount
January 2009 161[38]
July 2009 172[39]
May 2010 179[40][41]
July 2010 182[42]
September 2011 197[43]
November 2012 2001[38]

Independent Ukraine, party forming (early 1990s)

Even before Ukraine became independent in August 1991, political parties in Ukraine started to form around intellectuals and former Soviet dissidents.[44][not specific enough to verify] They posed the main opposition to the ruling Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Ukraine (CP(b)U). At the first convocation of the Verkhovna Rada[when?] those parties formed the parliamentary opposition People's Council. The most noticeable parties of the parliamentary opposition included the People's Movement of Ukraine (The Movement) and the Ukrainian Republican Party. Due to the August Putsch in Moscow (19–21 August 1991), a process to prohibit communist parties in Ukraine took place. Led by Oleksandr Moroz, the parliamentary faction of the CP(b)U, Group of 239, started a process to re-form the CP(b)U into the Socialist Party of Ukraine. The restriction on the existence of communist parties in Ukraine was successfully adopted soon after the Ukrainian independence, however in the couple of years the resolution was later challenged and eventually the restriction was lifted. In 1993 in Donetsk the first congress of the reinstated Communist Party of Ukraine took place, with the Party led by Petro Symonenko.

In the hastily organized 1994 parliamentary elections the communists surprisingly achieved the highest party rating, while the main opposing party, the Movement, did not gain even a quarter of their earned[clarification needed] seats. The re-formed party of the CP(b)U, the Socialist Party of Ukraine, and its major ally, the Peasant Party of Ukraine, performed relatively strongly. About a third of the elected parliamentarians were not affiliated. The elections became a major fiasco of the Democratic forces in Ukraine. After the 1994 elections numerous independent political parties were elected to the Ukrainian parliament, leading to the formation of nine deputy groups and parliamentary factions: Communists, Socialists, Agrarians, Inter-regional Deputy Group (MDG), Unity, Center, Statehood, Reforms, and the Movement. The concept of a "situational majority" was first used during that convocation to form a parliamentary coalition. The ruling coalition in the parliament often included the Communist Party of Ukraine, the Socialist Party of Ukraine, Agrarians, MDG, and Unity.

Parties for oligarchs and clans (1994–2004)

During the Kuchma presidency (1994–2004) parties started to form around politicians who had achieved power; these parties were often a vehicle of Ukrainian oligarchs.[44][not specific enough to verify] Scholars defined several "Clans" in Ukrainian politics grouped around businessmen and politicians from particular Ukrainian mayor cities; the "Donetsk-clan" (Rinat Akhmetov, Viktor Yanukovich and Mykola Azarov), the "Dnipropetrovsk-clan" (Yulia Tymoshenko, Leonid Kuchma, Viktor Pinchuk, Sergey Tigipko and Pavlo Lazarenko), the "Kiev-clan" (Viktor Medvedchuk and the brothers Surkis; this clan has also been linked to Zakarpattia) and the smaller "Kharkiv-clan".[45][46][47][48][49][18][50][51][52]

After the 2002 elections the Ukrainian parliament saw some consolidation of democratic political parties and the establishment of the main political camps in Ukraine: a coalition of nationally oriented deputies with the pro-European vector, a coalition of left-wing parties, and the pro-Russian parties coalition of the former Soviet nomenklatura. A major change took place during the Orange revolution when finally the two opposing political camps were established after the left-wing coalition split.

Merging parties (2011-now)

On 17 November 2011 the Ukrainian Parliament approved an election law that banned the participation of blocs of political parties in parliamentary elections;[10] since then several parties have merged with other parties.[53][54][55] Strong Ukraine merged with the Party of Regions on 17 March 2012.[56] Front of Changes and former Our Ukraine Bloc and Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko members performed in the 2012 parliamentary elections under "umbrella" party Fatherland.[57][58][59][60][61] Front for Changes leader Yatsenyuk headed this election list; because Fatherland-leader Yulia Tymoshenko was imprisoned.[62][63]

On 15 June 2013 Reforms and Order Party and Front for Change merged into Fatherland.[64] A part of People’s Movement of Ukraine (including its former chairman Borys Tarasyuk[65]) also merged with Fatherland (the rest of this party had merged with Ukrainian People's Party in May 2013[66]).[67][68]

In preparation for the upcoming 2014 parliamentary elections, several ministers of the Fatherland party in the government of Arseniy Yatsenyuk moved to the new party People's Front, which elected as its party leader Yatsenyuk on 10 September 2014.[69][70]

UDAR merged into the Petro Poroshenko Bloc on 28 August 2015[71] after in the 2014 parliamentary election, 30% of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc election list had been filled by members of UDAR (as non-partisan).[26]

Participating parties
Election Number Threshold Winners
1998 30 4% 8
2002 33 4% 6
2006 45 3% 5
2007 20 3% 5
2012 22 5% 5
2014 29 5% 6

See also


  1. Some Ukrainian parties could not be clearly classified as belonging to one of these two major movements, they were either synthesising the ideas of the two camps and/or strove to position themselves as a balancing force; examples of these parties are Socialist Party of Ukraine, Lytvyn Bloc and Labour Ukraine.[16]
  2. Ukrainian politicians have switched to parties that belong(ed) to another of these two major movements.[17]


  1. Basic electoral statistics 2014 extraordinary parliamentary election, Central Election Commission of Ukraine
  2. Reform Watch - Oct. 1, 2015, Kyiv Post (Oct. 2, 2015)
    Rhinos, dill and hidden threats confuse voters in Kyiv, Kyiv Post (Oct. 2, 2015)
  3. Research, European Union Democracy Observatory
  4. Ukraine: Comprehensive Partnership for a Real Democracy, Center for International Private Enterprise, 2010
  5. Poll: Ukrainians unhappy with domestic economic situation, their own lives, Kyiv Post (September 12, 2011)
  6. (Ukrainian) Сергій Одарич формуватиме більшість у міськраді Черкас, Cherkasy city council website (November 8, 2010)
  7. (Ukrainian) Мером Львова обрано Андрія Садового, ЛьвівNEWS (November , 2010)
  8. (Ukrainian) На виборах мера Полтави переміг Олександр Мамай, Дзеркало тижня (November 6, 2010)
  9. (Ukrainian) Официальные результаты голосования по выборам в Севастопольский городской совет, SevNews (November 5, 2010)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Parliament passes law on parliamentary elections, Kyiv Post (November 17, 2011)
  11. Opinion poll: Do you trust political parties? (recurrent, 2001–2009, by Razumkov Centre)
  12. (Ukrainian) Ukrainians believe the church, the army and the Ukrainian media, Ukrayinska Pravda (19 May 2014)
  13. Link to a pdf-file PDF INTERIM REPORT 2015 Ukrainian local elections, OSCE (9 October 2015)
  14. 14.0 14.1 Ukraine's Local Elections: New law, old problems by Melanie Mierzejewski-Voznyak, New Eastern Europe (22 October 2015)
  15. Hacked PR documents accelerate political war, Kyiv Post (11 January 2013)
  16. 16.0 16.1 Ukraine's Party System in Transition? The Rise of the Radically Right-Wing All-Ukrainian Association "Svoboda" by Andreas Umland, Centre for Geopolitical Studies (1 May 2011)
  17. (Ukrainian) The party "Revival": former Regions in orbit Kolomoisky, Ukrayinska Pravda (23 October 2015)
  18. 18.0 18.1 Communist and Post-Communist Parties in Europe by Uwe Backes and Patrick Moreau, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2008, ISBN 978-3-525-36912-8 (page 383 and 396)
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 Ukraine right-wing politics: is the genie out of the bottle?, openDemocracy.net (January 3, 2011)
  20. Pro-Russian bloc leads in Ukraine, BBC News (March 26, 2006)
  21. Nations and Nationalism: A Global Historical Overview, ABC-CLIO, 2008, ISBN 1851099077 (page 1629)
    Ukraine on its Meandering Path Between East and West by Andrej Lushnycky and Mykola Riabchuk, Peter Lang, 2009, ISBN 303911607X (page 122)
  22. After the parliamentary elections in Ukraine: a tough victory for the Party of Regions, Centre for Eastern Studies (7 November 2012)
  23. 23.0 23.1 Communist and Post-Communist Parties in Europe by Uwe Backes and Patrick Moreau, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2008, ISBN 978-3-525-36912-8 (page 396)
  24. Party of Regions gets 185 seats in Ukrainian parliament, Batkivschyna 101 - CEC, Interfax-Ukraine (12 November 2012)
    UDAR submits to Rada resolution on Ukraine’s integration with EU, Interfax-Ukraine (8 January 2013)
  25. (Ukrainian) Electronic Bulletin "Your Choice - 2012". Issue 4: Batkivshchyna, Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (24 October 2012)
  26. 26.0 26.1 (Russian) Pilots, combat, and journalists. Who goes to the new Verkhovna Rada , Korrespondent.net (September 15, 2014)
    Klitschko: I lead my team to Parliament, UDAR official website (14.09.2014)
    Deadline for nomination of candidates running in early election to Rada expires, ITAR-TASS (September 15, 2014)
  27. 27.0 27.1 Poroshenko Bloc to have greatest number of seats in parliament, Ukrainian Television and Radio (8 November 2014)
    People's Front 0.33% ahead of Poroshenko Bloc with all ballots counted in Ukraine elections - CEC, Interfax-Ukraine (8 November 2014)
    Poroshenko Bloc to get 132 seats in parliament - CEC, Interfax-Ukraine (8 November 2014)
  28. Ukraine's Party of Regions Refuses to Participate in Rada Elections, RIA Novosti (23 September 2014)
  29. (Ukrainian) "Revival" "our land": Who picks up the legacy of "regionals", BBC Ukrainian (16 September 2015)
    (Ukrainian) Party of Regions: Snake return, The Ukrainian Week (2 October 2015)
  30. Eight Reasons Why Ukraine’s Party of Regions Will Win the 2012 Elections by Taras Kuzio, The Jamestown Foundation (17 October 2012)
    UKRAINE: Yushchenko needs Tymoshenko as ally again by Taras Kuzio, Oxford Analytica (5 October 2007)
  31. Shekhovtsov, Anton (2011)."The Creeping Resurgence of the Ukrainian Radical Right? The Case of the Freedom Party". Europe-Asia Studies Volume 63, Issue 2. pp. 203-228. doi:10.1080/09668136.2011.547696 (source also available here)
  32. Svoboda: The rise of Ukraine's ultra-nationalists, BBC News (26 December 2012)
  33. Partisan-political structure. Analitik. 1999
  34. (Ukrainian) Poroshenko and void, Ukrayinska Pravda (16 May 2014)
    (Ukrainian) Poroshenko goes to work, Ukrayinska Pravda (6 June 2014)
  35. Against All Odds:Aiding Political Parties in Georgia and Ukraine by Max Bader, Vossiuspers UvA, 2010, ISBN 978-90-5629-631-5 (page 82)
  36. Understanding Ukrainian Politics:Power, Politics, And Institutional Design by Paul D'Anieri, M. E. Sharpe, 2006, ISBN 978-0-7656-1811-5 (page 189)
  37. Former German Ambassador Studemann views superiority of personality factor as fundamental defect of Ukrainian politics, Kyiv Post (December 21, 2009)
  38. 38.0 38.1 Official databases of political parties in Ukraine, Ukrainian Ministry of Justice
  39. Three new political parties registered in Ukraine, 172 in total, says Justice Ministry, Interfax-Ukraine (July 15, 2009)
  40. Justice Ministry registers 179th party in Ukraine – For Fairness and Prosperity, Kyiv Post (May 14, 2010)
  41. Justice Ministry registers Your Ukraine Party, Kyiv Post (May 5, 2010)
  42. Youth into Power party registered, Kyiv Post (July 2, 2010)
  43. Lavrynovych: Court cancels registration certificates of five Ukrainian parties, Kyiv Post (November 29, 2011)
  44. 44.0 44.1 Black Sea Politics:Political Culture and Civil Society in an Unstable Region, I. B. Tauris, 2005, ISBN 978-1-84511-035-2 (page 45)
  45. State-Building:A Comparative Study of Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, and Russia by Verena Fritz, Central European University Press, 2008, ISBN 978-963-7326-99-8 (page 189)
  46. Political Parties of Eastern Europe:A Guide to Politics in the Post-Communist Era by Janusz Bugajski, M.E. Sharpe, 2002, ISBN 978-1-56324-676-0 (page 829)
  47. Ukraine and European Society (Chatham House Papers) by Tor Bukkvoll, Pinter, 1998, ISBN 978-1-85567-465-3 (page 36)
  48. How Ukraine Became a Market Economy and Democracy by Anders Åslund, Peterson Institute for International Economics, 2009, ISBN 978-0-88132-427-3
  49. The Rebirth of Europe by Elizabeth Pond, Brookings Institution Press, 2002, ISBN 978-0-8157-7159-3 (page 146)
  50. The Crisis of Russian Democracy:The Dual State, Factionalism and the Medvedev Succession by Richard Sakwa, Cambridge University Press, 2011, ISBN 978-0-521-14522-0 (page 110)
  51. To Balance or Not to Balance:Alignment Theory And the Commonwealth of Independent States by Eric A. Miller, Ashgate Publishing, ISBN 978-0-7546-4334-0 (page 129)
  52. Ukraine:Challenges of the Continuing Transition, National Intelligence Council (Conference Report August 1999)
  53. (Ukrainian) "Наша Україна" й УНП почали об’єднання з Дніпропетровська, Ukrayinska Pravda (December 18, 2011)
  54. Tymoshenko, Lutsenko aware of their parties' unification, Kyiv Post (December 29, 2011)
  55. (Ukrainian) Одна з партій НУНС перейменувалася та змінила голову, Ukrayinska Pravda (December 3, 2011)
  56. Tigipko hooks up with Party of Regions, Kyiv Post (March 20, 2012)
    Strong Ukraine party decides on disbanding to join Regions Party, Kyiv Post (March 17, 2012)
  57. (Ukrainian) Соціально-християнська партія вирішила приєднатися до об'єднаної опозиції, Den (newspaper) (24 April 2012)
  58. Opposition to form single list to participate in parliamentary elections, Kyiv Post (2 March 2012)
    (Ukrainian) "ФРОНТ ЗМІН" ІДЕ В РАДУ З "БАТЬКІВЩИНОЮ", Ukrayinska Pravda (7 April 2012)
    Yatseniuk wants to meet with Tymoshenko to discuss reunion of opposition, Kyiv Post (7 April 2012)
  59. (Ukrainian) Tymoshenko and Yatsenyuk united ("Тимошенко та Яценюк об'єдналися"), Ukrayinska Pravda (23 April 2012)
  60. Civil Position party joins Ukraine's united opposition, Kyiv Post (20 June 2012)
  61. Mustafa Dzhemiliov is number 12 on the list of the United Opposition “Fatherland”, Den (2 August 2012)
  62. They Call Themselves the Opposition, The Ukrainian Week (31 August 2012)
  63. (Ukrainian) Список депутатів нової Верховної Ради, Ukrayinska Pravda (11 November 2012)
  64. Sobolev: Front for Change and Reform and Order Party to join Batkivschyna, Interfax-Ukraine (11 June 2013)
    Front for Change, Reforms and Order to dissolve for merger with Batkivshchyna - Sobolev, Ukrinform (11 June 2013))
  65. Ukraine-Russia relations didn’t get any better, ex-Foreign Minister Borys Tarasiuk says, z i k (February 5, 2011)
  66. Ukrainian People's Party, People's Movement Of Ukraine Decide Unite Into Rukh, Elect Kuibida Its Leader, Ukrainian News Agency (19 May 2013)
  67. Batkivschyna, Front for Change, Reform and Order Party, part of NRU unite for victory – Tymoshenko’s address to congress, Interfax-Ukraine (15 June 2013)
  68. Tymoshenko re-elected Batkivshchyna leader, Yatseniuk council chair, Ukrinform (15 June 2013)
  69. Yatseniuk heads People's Front Party, Ukrinform (10 September 2014)
    Jatzenjuk an die Spitze der Partei „Volksfront“ gestellt, Ukrinform (10 September 2014)
  70. «Народний фронт» представив кандидатів, Hromadske.TV (10 September 2014)
  71. Klitschko becomes leader of Petro Poroshenko Bloc 'Solidarity' party, Interfax-Ukraine (28 August 2015)

External links