"I have spent the last three nights thinking about how to keep together that which has already separated. ... The key issue was the issue of trust," he said. "If there had been a possibility to preserve team spirit, to remain together, it would have been the best answer. We had such an agreement and during the night it was changed, but not by me."
If you had asked me yesterday why Yuschenko dismissed his government, I would have said that he didn't want to but had to. I was thinking earlier on before I found out about it that he might end up trying to patch up holes in his administration and try to make them work with what he's got. I think this statement confirms that. But doing this would have been disastrous for him and for the country. It would not only have reinforced a reputation he has acquired for indecisiveness but it would also have left him with a weaker government as a result.
Why did I think he would do this? I thought he would because Yuschenko has this tendency to want to create harmony. He did it during the Orange Revolution by agreeing with Yanukovych in those idiotic EU brokered negotiations. And it about split the revolution right down the middle. It was at this time you heard the "well-the-revolution-isn't-about-Yuschenko" philosophy showing up. Would have been disastrous if it had happened.
But he is wiping the slate clean and I think it makes him stronger (and makes him look more decisive) notwithstanding what other analysts say. He may seem isolated, but I think that serves him much better than to be linked with Poroshenko and Tymoshenko. This allows him to make his case to the people alone, a case which he has been successful at making in the past. I remember hearing reports of the first rally down on Maidan before the elections where Yuschenko spoke. The crowds were not like those during the OR, but they were still large. When Yuschenko showed up, the crowd parted to let him pass. That was impressive.
And I remember standing down on the square during the OR and hearing the news pass along the crowd "Yuschenko's going to speak!" They would make their way closer to the stage at the news. I was not unaffected by it. That was also impressive. And I think he can do it again. People trust him or at least they want to trust him though more may be wondering about it right now. He needs to get out and make his case more to the people, something he really hasn't done yet much at all. If he does, I think the people will respond.
Will Poroshenko and Tymoshenko campaign against the government? Let's take Poroshenko first. He has lots of money but little popular support. Maybe his money can translate into more support in the end, but it is not as easy now as it once was. He would be left making his case in paid forums (I know, "fora") and his would not be the only voice people heard. And if he were critical of the government and of Yuschenko, it is not clear that that would translate into support for him. It might mean more support for Tymoshenko. The corruption allegations will dog him too.
What about Tymoshenko? She is very popular here. On this morning's call-in show on Radio Era, most of the callers were angry supporters of Yulia. She was the one doing things in the government and doing things that were popular. Prices are going up here and she was trying to stop that from happening (and make the Russians and the privateers behind it all pay for their actions.) Social justice is compelling. It may be reckless economically, but you cannot argue that it is not compelling.
Will she come out against Yuschenko? Maybe, but it would be interesting to see how she does it if so. She was linked with him during the OR but has had a forum all her own as PM. She has been able to distinguish herself there by being the one who is out doing things. (Some Polish somebody or other said she is the one in government making things happen. And that is true, she did make them happen. Whether they should have happened is another matter.) So she can distinguish herself from Yuschenko on those grounds. "I was out there for you, to make the government work for you. I ask you, was I not? Did I not force the Russians to stop raising gasoline prices until I was stopped? Did I not order the governors to come in with higher pork production in a time when there were shortages, until I was stopped? Did I not work to provide relief when sugar almost doubled in price? Is it now double in price? (No, the price has gone back down.) So I ask you, have I not been working for you, working to make sure that the money you bring home is not taken by those who profiteer at your expense?
"But I was stopped in all of this. I was told to back down when I stood up to the Russians. I was told that my methods were interfering too much in the economy, an economy that is eating away at your ability to provide the basics for your family, for your children. I was told that my efforts were hampering the economic well-being of the country. But are you more able now to provide for your families? I ask you are you more able now to do it?
"Who was it that stopped me? Who was it that prevented me from taking action to save the people of Ukraine from the privateers and from Russian interference? Who was it that prevented me from making sure that you can feed your family? I will tell you who it was and you will not like it. You will not like waht it is I have to say because it means betrayal, a betrayal of those who stood out in the cold and snow..."
Would she do this kind of thing? I don't know. She doesn't have to. She could ignore any conflict and try to build a positive case for herself based on the vision thing. But it will be hard to resist contrasting herself with the government in some way if the appeal is populist.
If she did force some kind of showdown pitting her directly against Yuschenko, it would be scorched earth and I don't think it is all that clear she would win. (Making Poroshenko the culprit gets her nothing really.) People like her decisiveness, but I think they trust Yuschenko more or at least they want to trust him. I could be wrong about this, of course, but I think it is true. As in everything else, though, we shall see.
She has a press conference this evening. Ought to be interesting.