Three of the largest pro-Western parties in Ukraine’s parliament agreed to form a new coalition on Tuesday led by Volodimir Groisman, the current speaker and an ally of President Petro Poroshenko’s.
Groisman would succeed Arseniy Yatseniuk, the embattled prime minister and leader of the conservative People’s Front.
Yatseniuk’s party would stay in coalition with Poroshenko’s Solidarity bloc and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland.
The three have governed since the 2014 election in a broad alliance with the Christian democrat Self Reliance and the populist Radical Party. Neither of those smaller parties is rejoining the government.
The parties that favor closer relations with Europe and the United States at the expense of Ukraine’s long-standing ties to Russia have bickered for months. Reformists complain that efforts to weed out corruption and liberalize the economy aren’t making progress fast enough.
Yatseniuk only narrowly survived a confidence vote in February despite Poroshenko urging him to step down.
The prime minister held on at the time despite the resignation of his economy minister, Aivaras Abromavičius.
On his way out, the Lithuanian-born former banker accused supporters of both Poroshenko and Yatseniuk of meddling in the running of state-owned enterprises and attempting to block anti-corruption efforts.
We reported at the time that a marriage of convenience between genuine reformers in Ukraine and members of the old guard was breaking down. Both believe the former Soviet republic’s future lies in Europe but they have little more in common.
In the wake of Russia’s occupation and annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and in light of its continued support for a separatist uprising in the east of the country, the two sides temporarily set aside their differences. Modernizers did not insist on uprooting the entire political system and were in turn tolerated by the business interests that support Poroshenko.
The latter would say the modernizers overreached. The former, like Abromavičius, accuse the oligarchs and their cronies in parliament of blocking reforms out of self-interest. Both may be right.
Tuesday’s deal should anyway unlock $1.7 billion in aid from the International Monetary Fund, which had been held up by the political impasse.