Ukraine votes to end standoff

(CNN) Ukrainians began voting Sunday in an early parliamentary election meant to bring an end to a months-long political standoff between the nation's two feuding leaders.

President Viktor Yushchenko's party appeared set for a dismal showing, with polls predicting the bloc led by rival Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych would get the largest share of votes.

But Yushchenko is pinning his hopes on a last-minute alliance with former Premier Yulia Tymoshenko -- a partnership that could give their parties control of parliament if together they get more votes than Yanukovych's bloc.

Forging a coalition with Tymoshenko , however, could mean weeks of negotiation and Yanukovych has signaled that he would not give up power easily.

Polls predict Yanukovych's Party of Regions will receive the most votes, with Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko in second place. Yushchenko's Our Ukraine-People's Self-defense, hampered by voter disappointment with his failure to fulfill reformist promises that brought him to power in 2005, is expected to wind up third. Ukraine has 37.5 million registered voters. Watch polls open in Ukraine

Yanukovych , an earthy 57-year-old former metal worker, has undergone a dramatic transformation since his humiliating defeat in the 2004 presidential race, when Ukrainians took to the streets in massive protests against election fraud dubbed the Orange Revolution, paving the way for Yushchenko's victory in a court-ordered rerun.

But Yanukovych made a stunning comeback in the March 2006 parliamentary elections when his party won the most votes, propelling him back into premiership. He sought to change his image, casting himself as a democrat and preaching compromise and stability.

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