A junior ally in Ukraine’s Western-backed coalition quit Wednesday, spelling more trouble for Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk’s government just a day after he survived a no confidence vote in parliament.
The exit of the Fatherland faction, led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, again raises the specter of early elections and could make it even harder for Yatseniuk to pass economic reforms demanded by Ukraine’s Western creditors.
Months of squabbling in the coalition came to a head of Tuesday, when President Petro Poroshenko, who leads the largest party in the alliance, openly called for Yatseniuk to resign. Yatseniuk survived the vote, but the majority of Poroshenko’s own lawmakers voted against him.
Tymoshenko’s party has 19 seats in parliament, and its exit still leaves the remaining three parties in the coalition with a majority. It was not immediately clear what the other members of the alliance would do.
The coalition now contains President Petro Poroshenko’s party, Yatseniuk’s party and one other.
“Yesterday extraordinary events took place in parliament,” said Yulia Tymoshenko, party leader of the Fatherland faction. She called the coalition “a facade” and urged other lawmakers to quit the government as well.
“There was a shadowy, backroom coalition of political clans, which formed a government that ruled the country and pushed the country to the brink,” she said.
“The Fatherland party and Fatherland faction thinks it is impossible to continue to remain in this pack, which doesn’t have a chance, because it doesn’t want to carry out reforms, (or) protect Ukraine.”
Ukraine’s international backers have invested much money and political capital backing the government in its stand-off with Moscow after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 following the overthrow of Kiev’s pro-Russian president by protesters.
But the former Soviet republic’s failure to tackle corruption and implement reforms has already derailed a Western aid program that keeps its economy afloat, and a ceasefire with pro-Russian separatists in the east has been fraying.
Though Yatseniuk survived the vote of no confidence, lawmakers, including the head of Poroshenko’s faction in parliament, openly questioned the government’s ability to implement its reform agenda.