Ukraine coalition party quits after confidence motion

Thu 18 Feb 2016

Ukraine coalition party quits after confidence motion

On 17 February the Batkivshchyna party of Yulia Tymoshenko pulled out of the ruling coalition in Ukraine after Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk survived a no-confidence vote in parliament just a day before. Despite having survived the motion the PM will have a difficult time as he has lost the President’s trust and the crisis-hit coalition will need a new boost. On 18 February Yatsenyuk called for a reshuffle in the coalition and spoke to various political groups to form new allies, including the populist Radical party.

Distrust in the government and reforms
After months of quarrelling in the ruling coalition, on 16 February Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko asked PM Yatsenyuk to resign in order to restore trust in the government. There were 226 votes needed to accept the resolution, but only 194 voted in favour of the resolution. Yatsenyuk promised to tackle corruption, but in fact he became the focus of similar accusations, although no concrete evidence has emerged. From Poroshenko’s 136-member bloc already 2 MPs walked out from the 17 February parliamentary session and left the governing coalition.

The PM who came into office in 2014 had to pass unpopular austerity measures. Yet Ukraine’s failure to tackle corruption and implement reforms has prompted the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to withhold the next tranche of aid, worth USD1.7 billion, part of the $40 billion Western aid program. The reforms included tackling bribe-taking in the judiciary and to sell off loss-making state companies.

Tense situation
Ukraine is struggling with a continuing violence from separatists backed by Russia in the east, together with a deepening recession. President Poroshenko earlier said that the government had lost the support of the ruling coalition. Ahead of the confidence vote protesters stood outside the parliament calling for Yatsenyuk to resign. According to the Kyivpost, with the withdrawal from the coalition, Tymoshenko made an oblique call for early parliamentary elections. She said: “It is up to Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko to find the way out of the crisis, and early elections would be the most effective weapon in battling the oligarchist agreement inside the parliament.”

Other coalition parties
Tymoshenko's party has 19 seats in parliament, and its exit still leaves the remaining three parties – the Samopomich party, the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko and the People’s Front – in the coalition with a majority. It is not clear what the other members of the alliance will do. If the Samopomich party leaves the coalition as well, the two remaining members would together have at most 221 votes. This will be five short of the number needed to pass most legislation. If the coalition collapses, parliament would have 30 days to form a new one, according to Ukraine's Constitution. If a new coalition will not be formed within this timeframe, snap parliamentary elections should be announced.

Sources: Reuters, BBC, RFE/RL, Kyivpost, Unian