TO ALL appearances, Ukraine’s parliamentary election on October 26th was a triumph. Reformists mostly won and voters rebuked the far right and far left. Western allies heaped praise on the pro-European, pro-democratic results. Yet Ukraine remains troubled and deeply divided. In an upset, the People’s Front party of Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the prime minister, narrowly beat President Petro Poroshenko’s bloc by 22.2% to 21.8%. This means that Ukraine will keep two power centres, as Mr Yatsenyuk seems sure to stay in office. Mr Poroshenko had hoped to win a majority and install a loyalist instead. Now the People’s Front and the Poroshenko Bloc must form a coalition, probably with the third-placed Samopomich (self-help) party, led by the mayor of Lviv. The six parties that reached a 5% threshold will fill half of the 450-seat parliament (Rada) from their party lists. The rest will come from districts where deputies are elected directly and only later join party factions.
The vote reflected the western regions’ power in the new Ukraine. Turnout was highest in the west, and relatively low overall at 52% (down from 60% in May’s presidential election). In Lviv 70% of voters showed up, against only 40% in Odessa. In Ukrainian-controlled areas of the Donbas turnout was just 32%. Neither Crimea nor the separatist-held eastern regions voted (their 27 seats in the Rada will stay empty).
The Opposition Bloc, a revamped version of Viktor Yanukovych’s reviled Party of Regions, got into the Rada, after finishing fourth, with 9%. The party won much of the south-east—Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhia and even Dnipropetrovsk. Joining them in parliament will be some 60-70 directly elected deputies aligned with the old regime. Their presence will incense first-time politicians drawn from the Maidan movement who fought hard to oust Mr Yanukovych. It will also upset Ukraine’s volunteer battalions, including commanders of three powerful anti-rebel paramilitary groups who were elected.