What the Ukrainian prime minister’s resignation means

World Today

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk gesturing as he addresses members of parliament

Frustrated with the “non-adoption of a number of important bills” and the breakup of the parliamentary coalition, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said he is resigning.

It is, of course, a consequential decision given what is happening in Eastern Ukraine. But it is also a reflection of internal politics in Ukraine.

Yatsenyuk became prime minister thanks to the size of his opposition “Motherland” Party in a coalition with two other parties—Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR) and Svoboda. On Thursday, the latter two announced they were pulling out of the coalition. It’s thought they believed that if there were a new vote now, they would have more seats. (And that’s probably true.)

Technically, the prime minister would have 30 days to form a new coalition. Since his only option would’ve been with the Party of Regions—the party of the ousted President—he chose to resign.

This essentially was a marriage of convenience, but in the end it is a marriage that doesn’t work.

The speaker of the Parliament has now asked UDAR and Svoboda to select a technocrat acting Prime Minister.

Within 30 days, if there is no new coalition, the President will have to call for new parliamentary elections. They will likely happen in October. Note: this does not affect the president, but the president does get to appoint a prime minister.

Ukraine’s system of governance is a shared parliamentary-presidential one, but the return recently to the 2004 Constitution meant the Parliament has more powers. The more seats you have, the more power you have.

That’s what this is about.