Interesting speculation in 'Kommentarii' this week, some of which I have paraphrased below:
'Regionaly' will never again achieve the hegemony attained in 2006, and painful transformations await the party. Their strategic plan to achieve total power in the country by assembling a constitutional majority in the VR fell through, and drove Yushchenko to call for new elections.
Even if a PoR-NUNS coalition is eventually formed, this will be a serious loss of face for PoR because they will have to make concessions to their junior partner, NUNS, e.g. on the Russian language issue and on NATO.
The President will never give back the PM's job to 'Regionaly', nor the posts of ministers of Finances or Justice, nor control over the energy sphere.
Yushchenko has tightened his grip on the 'sylovyky' structures and will not share these with PoR. Only the economic and social- humanitarian ministries would be distributed amongst PoR. However a wide coalition would have some advantages for PoR - retention at least some power would safeguard the party from division and would give them breathing space to consider a strategy for the 2009 presidential elections. Most of the groups in PoR positively support the creation of a wide coalition. Only Viktor Yanukovych and his circle would be dissatisfied with the formation of a wide coalition because it would leave him without a clear role in the party.
It would be difficult for him to be appointed VR speaker or PoR fraction leader. Yanukovych's future career prospects would probably be best enhanced by a spell as shadow premier - he would remain a highly prominent political figure up to the next Presidential election campaign in late 2009.
But the possibility of PoR being an active party of opposition would not entirely suit Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine's richest oligarch and PoR sponsor. It was Akmetov that compromised with Yushchenko in the spring by agreeing to early re-elections. If PoR have to go into opposition Akhmetov will maintain a policy of soft interrelations with the government authorities.
At the moment a temporary internal truce exists within PoR's top echelons, as indicated by the composition of their working group preparing the first session of the new VR. It comprises representatives from each wing of party: Yanukovych himself, Raisa Bohatyryova, Mykola Aazarov, Andriy Klyuev [who apparently has cordial ties to Yuriy Lutsenko], Volodymyr Rybak, and Serhiy Levochkin.
The benefits of the wide coalition for the majority of the members of party are obvious but whatever the status of PoR turns out to be, their informal leader Akhmetov will want to get rid of Yanukovych who will have to take the blame for losing the elections.
However, there are two big problems - first there is no clear replacement for Viktor Fedorovich, who remains very popular with his electorate and with a substantial part of the party's members. If the Party of Regions nevertheless join some kind of democratic alliance and Yanukovych is replaced, it is unlikely he would want to walk off the political stage volutarily. He could split the party and create his own political force in order to fill the niche of leader of the formal opposition.
The non Donetskiite 'Regionaly' in particular will strive for closer co-operation with the orange authorities, something which is already happening, e.g. in Odessa and in Luhansk.
Withdrawal to opposition and the "opportunistic" position Of Rinat Akhmetov could return PoR to their roots, i.e. make it an exclusively regional project, as in 2002. These elections seem to indicate that "Regionaly" have passed the peak of electoral success and are now beginnig to slowly lose votes.