Kyiv, 5 June 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Oleksandr Moroz, speaker in the last parliament and still seen as the strongest candidate for this position in Ukraine's new Parliament, yesterday joined the race after the lawmakers failed for the fourth time to elect their leader.
Six other candidates join Moroz in the fifth round of vote to be held next week. Moroz's most serious rival will be Ivan Plyusch of the People's Democratic Party who chaired Parliament until 1994.
A seasoned politician, Moroz gained respect for effective management of previous Parliament.
The daily Kievskie Vedomosti two days ago (June 3) cited unidentified sources in Parliament as saying that 230 deputies from various factions, or more than the required majority in 450-seat Parliament, were prepared to cast their ballots for Moroz.
Some analysts say the nomination of Communist leader Petro Symonenko by Parliament's leftist factions in the previous four election rounds was part of a long-term strategy Moroz devised to increase his chances of becoming a speaker. He was elected to this post in a similar fashion in 1994 after opposing factions repeatedly failed to compromise on a candidate for the post.
Moroz's yesterday's entry followed a two-day battle between ex-President Leonid Kravchuk and Symonenko. Yesterday, Symonenko gained 178 votes, with Kravchuk falling five votes behind. A day before, Kravchuk had defeated Symonenko by 193 to 168 votes. The required majority is 226 votes.
Analysts say the victory in the race for the position of speaker is a launching pad for the 1999 presidential race.