Ukraine's Communists were far ahead of reform-oriented parties in scattered early results from parliamentary elections.
Promising Soviet-style social guarantees in its campaign ahead of Sunday's vote, the Communist Party appealed to millions of pensioners, unpaid workers and other angry voters whose living standards have plummeted since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.An exit poll gave the Communists more than one-quarter of the vote in the balloting by party, which will fill half the 450-seat parliament. The other half will be filled by winners in individual races in 225 electoral districts.
The Central Election Commission said preliminary results from some regions pointed to a strong showing by the Communists.
Both the poll and the commission indicated a handful of moderate, reformist parties also cleared the 4 percent hurdle needed for representation in the parliament.
Citing vote counts from 20 percent to 40 percent of the electoral districts, Central Election Commission chairman Mykhaylo Ryabets said eight parties appeared likely to win seats in the parliament.
The exit poll also indicated the leftist alliance of the Socialist and Peasants' parties did well.
The poll, taken by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation and Socis-Gallup, surveyed 9,900 people at 400 polling places and had a margin of error of 1.2 percentage points.
The government owes workers the equivalent of about $2.5 billion in back wages and hundreds of millions more in pensions - which are woefully inadequate even when they arrive on time.
Before Sunday's election, the Communists had about 20 percent of the seats in parliament. Combined with other leftist groups, they have been able to block many of President Leonid Kuchma's economic reform efforts.