11:38 Apr. 17, 2016
Ukraine is broken, but its civic activists are trying to build a new country
It is easy to despair of Ukraine. The war-torn country has been engulfed by political crisis for nearly two months. The "Revolution of Dignity" that overthrew the corrupt, authoritarian government of President Viktor Yanukovych two years ago brought no revolutionary change.
Corruption is still rampant. Key reforms are incomplete. The separation of powers between the president and prime minister remains vague. The oligarchs are still entrenched and the old political faces are having a makeover. The government is paralysed. Foreign aid is frozen. And the shenanigans around the formation of the new government seem painfully familiar.
On April 10th, after weeks of vacillation, the prime minister, Arseniy Yatseniuk, whose popularity had plummeted along with Ukrainians' living standards, offered to resign. His two-year term produced mixed results. His government managed to raise the absurdly low price Ukrainians are charged for gas, and reduce the country's dependence on Russian supplies. Public procurement—a big source of corruption—became more transparent. But his administration was tarred by corruption scandals and stalled reforms.
Mr Yatseniuk's offer of resignation was followed by dissension and backroom horse-trading. The squabbling exemplified Ukraine's lack of a responsible political elite. On April 14th the Rada, Ukraine's parliament, voted in a new government led by Volodymyr Groisman, the speaker of parliament and a close ally of President Petro Poroshenko.
Oleksandr Danyliuk, a former consultant at McKinsey, is to be finance minister. The new administration is backed by a thin coalition between Mr Poroshenko's bloc and Mr Yatseniuk's party, which despite its miserable ratings will retain key cabinet posts, including the Ministry of the Interior.
Ukraine-watchers could not escape a feeling of déjà vu. Twelve years ago the Orange Revolution was followed by a period of misrule by then-President Viktor Yushchenko. At the time Mr Poroshenko, who was one of Mr Yushchenko's lyubi druzi ("dear friends"), epitomised the betrayal of the revolution's hopes.