Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tipping His Hat?

Sergey Tihipko has remained coy about aligning with Viktor Yanukovych or Yuliya Tymoshenko. However, National Radio reports that he considers Yuliya's "offer much stronger..." than Yanukovych's. Of course, neither candidate can promise Tihipko the PM's post. While the president can nominate the PM, constitutional reforms leave the final decision in the hands of the parliamentary majority (or a coalition).

Tihipko has an opportunity to "cash in" in the short term, extracting the best package from one of the campaigns. But, a strength of his campaign was his ability to avoid clear identification with either camp. If Tihipko thinks longer-term, he might be better off heading his own party in the next parliamentary election (which may come sooner rather than later). This strategy has greater risks - his star may not continue to rise as he engages in the messy politics in Kyiv - but has potentially great rewards. If he maintains his image as an "independent" voice and strong leader, he could fare much better in the next presidential contest. Five years is an eternity in politics, especially in Ukraine, which is why politicians typically seem to favor short-term benefits.

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