Just days ago, the BBC reported that the leaders of Yushchenko and Tymoshenko’s respective parties had agreed to form a new governing coalition after the previous one collapsed in September. But of course, doubts have already emerged about this arrangement. Last Monday, Nikolas Gvosdev noted the fragile nature of the new “coalition.”
In a piece for the New Atlanticist, he said:
So the Orange Coalition has pulled itself back together to form a governing majority in Ukraine once again. Somehow “incompetent” Viktor Yushchenko and “traitor” Yulia Tymoshenko (in the eyes of some of the respective partisans of both politicians) are back on the same page. Months wasted and then the economic crisis hit as Ukraine’s main exports decline in value and people pull money from the banks.
It’s understandable why no one might want elections in those conditions but it doesn’t seem that any of the underlying issues which led to the second “Orange Divorce” — particularly over who gets to control what positions — have been settled. So is it just a matter of time before the coalition fractures? Or this time will these questions get settled?
As far as I can tell, we don’t have a renewed coalition in Ukraine but the agreement of the three blocs (Tymoshenko, Volodymyr Lytvyn, and Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense) to cooperate in the passage of legislation. After months of squabbling, the realization that in the midst of a profound global economic crisis, it might not be a good idea for Ukraine not to have its 2009 budget ready or a gas agreement with Russia signed and sealed seems to caused politicians to put aside their disputes — at least temporarily.
Now, Gvosdev’s concerns seem to have materialized; the new arrangement exists more out of legislative necessity than any spirit of coalition or cooperation. Yesterday, Tymoshenko directly and publicly called on Yushchenko to resign. RFE/RL:
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has called on President Viktor Yushchenko to resign, accusing him of putting personal ambition above the country’s interests.
Tymoshenko has long been at odds with Yushchenko, her former ally. But her direct call for his resignation on December 19 suggested a serious worsening of political tensions ahead of a cabinet meeting on December 20.
“I believe the president of this country, who works according to the [principle] … that whatever is worse for the country is better for me, who makes money out of the misery of people, must step down tomorrow together with the head of the central bank,” Tymoshenko said on an evening television talk show.
Unfortunately, the political situation in Ukraine is likely to get worse as economic troubles compound. The central bank announced Friday that the government does not have enough funds to meet its financial obligations, including the payment of wages. Furthermore, the hryvnia’s value has declined by approximately 50 percent since June, inflation remains at 22 percent (down at least from 31 percent in May), industrial output fell by 30 percent last month, and the economy has plummeted 14 percent since November 2007.
Peter Cassata is an assistant editor at the Atlantic Council.