Entirely unsurprisingly, Prime Minister Yatseniuk announced his resignation from the post on Sunday 10th April – on cue.
As this blog tweeted last week:
— Nikolai Holmov (@OdessaBlogger) April 1, 2016
On 7th April the blog received confirmation from those same people behind the Odessa curtain that Prime Minister Yatseniuk would resign (officially) on 12th April. He has now announced that intention.
I have taken the decision to resign as Prime Minister of Ukraine. On Tuesday, April 12 my request will be submitted to the Parliament
— Arseniy Yatsenyuk (@Yatsenyuk_AP) April 10, 2016
Absolutely no surprise to quite a few, for it has been a fairly poorly kept secret.
For those pondering his replacement, it will be the current Verkhovna Rada Speaker and President Poroshenko prodigy, Volodymyr Groisman – 100%. It has been his future role for at least the past 3 weeks, despite any rumours surrounding Natalie Jaresko.
For those that do not closely follow Ukrainian politics, effectively Ms Jaresko ruled herself out when stating she would only lead a technocratic government – for there will be snowballs in hell before a purely technocratic government leads Ukraine.
Ergo between the lines that statement not only ruled herself out of the PM race, but also makes it particularly difficult to continue as Finance Minister in a Cabinet of Ministers that is anything other than technocratic. If she would only lead a technocratic government, why would she remain part of a government that clearly will not be? The Ivy League lecture circuit awaits perhaps?
Indeed the composition of the new Cabinet of Ministers is also known – at least to this blog (and probably quite a few others – barring last minute changes that could derail the whole thing of course). Unfortunately readers will have to wait for its official unveiling, or leaking elsewhere, for that composition was conveyed in the strictest of confidences.
Nevertheless, almost all was settled by 7th April – settled other than the issue of sorting out money among the odious shenanigans behind the curtain that is. That issue is now almost entirely settled too. Hence Prime Minister Yatseniuk announcing his resignation per the Grey Cardinal script(ure).
Volodymyr Groisman will become (the second Jewish) Prime Minister of Ukraine very, very soon. (For the sake of interest, Ukraine’s oldest serving MP Yukhym Zvyahilsky was the first Jewish PM). He is actually very competent. A good listener, a good negotiator and generally a fairly decent man. His main drawback is being seen as the President’s prodigy. That said, because of that perception, lack of reforms henceforth will clearly be laid at the presidential door, with little wiggle room to explain failure.
Needless to say, Mr Groisman and his new Cabinet will enjoy some Verkhovna Rada support – initially. Ukraine will need to make the most of this support and spurt along the reform path before the dysfunctional norm returns within the walls of the Verkhovna Rada.
Ms Tymoshenko is clearly already in electioneering mode and will not hold off with her populist political flapdoodle for very long. Nevertheless, she will tone down the rhetoric briefly for the sake of political appearances.
Assuredly Prime Minister Groisman and Cabinet will have a minimum of 6 months before they can face a vote of no confidence. His Cabinet may last 12 months – seeing Ukraine through to the other side of the Brexit referendum, US elections, and perhaps it may last long enough to get beyond ballots in Germany and France too. If so that would be a good result. However, it seems very unlikely that his time as PM or the new Cabinet will last until the end of this full parliamentary term.
Ergo, it is hoped that there are clear priorities for what will be a limited window of reformist opportunity. Undoubtedly Prime Minster Groisman (when he takes office), his new Cabinet (when announced) the new (slim) majority coalition, and “external supporters” of Ukraine have priorities that align fairly well – if not exactly.
Mr Groisman’s challenge is to get civil society back on board, continue a good relationship with “external supporters”, and get as much reform accomplished as is practicable (and sensible) within 12 months (if he, his Cabinet and a new coalition lasts that long).
There will probably be a fair bit of “good news” emitting from Ukraine after several weeks of “bad news” in the immediate months ahead. The road will however remain long, winding and bumpy. There will still be backward steps occasionally. Early elections still remain highly likely at the time of writing. Nevertheless, progress there will (once again) be.
All eyes will now be upon who is in the new Cabinet of Ministers (expect those of this blog for reasons stated above).
The appointment that this blog is looking at is that of the next Prosecutor General, for reform within the PGO in parallel to PM Groisman and a new Cabinet moving things along, may just prolong the lifespan of both and mitigate against early elections.
The question is whether President Poroshenko will nominate a Prosecutor General that will serve both the public and assist his prodigy as Prime Minister – rather than another chained, loyal, Presidential dog.
(As for Arseney Yatseniuk, having been allowed to leave head held high, he can rehabilitate and reinvent himself concentrating on policy without having to defend vested interests. A squeeze on Kolomoisky and Akhmetov to follow?)