Members of a local electoral commission count ballots at a polling station after voting day in Kiev, October 26, 2014. (REUTERS/Gleb Garanich)
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Pro-Western parties will dominate Ukraine's parliament after an election handed President Petro Poroshenko a mandate to end a separatist conflict and steer the country further out of Russia's orbit into Europe's mainstream.Poroshenko planned to start coalition talks on Monday after exit polls and partial results showed most of the groups that were holding up democratic and legal reforms demanded by the European Union had been swept out of parliament on Sunday. He still faces huge problems: Russia is resisting moves by Kiev to one day join the European Union, a ceasefire is barely holding in the east where government forces have been fighting pro-Russian separatists, and the economy is in dire straits. Russia's President Vladimir Putin can still influence events, not least as the main backer of the rebels in the east and through Moscow's role as natural gas supplier to Ukraine and the EU. But with his own bloc and a party led by his ally, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, running neck and neck on more than 21 percent support after more than a quarter of votes on party lists were counted, Poroshenko is assured of dominating parliament. With a third like-minded party, Selfhelp, on 11 percent with 38 percent of votes counted, Poroshenko can forge a strong coalition government.Moscow has also cut off gas supplies to Ukraine in a dispute over the price and unpaid bills, causing alarm in the EU which gets a third of its gas needs from Russia, half of it via Ukraine.
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