The Ukrainian governing coalition collapsed Tuesday as differences over the recent Russia-Georgia war as well as ties to the West finally split the long-feuding leaders of the 2004 Orange Revolution.
President Viktor Yushchenko can call new elections in a month
"I officially announce the collapse of the coalition of democratic forces," said parliamentary speaker Arseny Yatsenyuk after a deadline to resolve differences expired.
"Come with flowers, come with wreathes to the funeral of the democratic coalition," Yatsenyuk had told journalists in Kyiv, Interfax news agency reported on Monday. "It must be understood that we have very little time to restore the old coalition or build a new one. Let's not pretend that nothing is happening."
Parties in parliament now have 30 days to form a new government, after which President Viktor Yushchenko can call new elections.
The Revolution's agenda of modernizing Ukraine and engaging in closer ties to the European Union and United States stalled and ties with Russia have been strained. The fallout between the West and Russia over last month's war in Georgia imploded, leaving Ukraine's fragile ruling coalition deeply divided over its identity.
President Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party pulled out of the ruling, pro-Western coalition with Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's bloc at the beginning of September after Tymoshenko sided with the pro-Moscow opposition to pass new laws reducing Yuschenko’s powers.
"I would not call this an apocalypse. It is a challenge for democracy, but I hope we will overcome this challenge together," Yatsenyuk said.
Russian relations cause strain
Tymoshenko is accused of fostering ties to Russia
The two pro-Western reformers who swept to power in the 2004 Orange Revolution have had several stops and starts, but the latest disagreement is pinned on formulating Kyiv's approach to Moscow.
Tymoshenko has been dubbed a traitor by the president's administration after she refused to support his moves to punish Russia for its actions in Georgia by imposing restrictions on its Black Sea fleet, which is based in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol.
Tymoshenko said Yushchenko's angry speeches against Russia and headlong push toward NATO dangerously set Ukraine on a collision course with its giant neighbor.
The feud has been accentuated by the run-up to presidential elections in 2010 in which both politicians are prime candidates.
Third election in three years possible
Changes may soon be in store for the Ukraine parliament's seating arrangement
The party's 10-day deadline to save the coalition ran out Saturday, and a formal break-up was announced in parliament Tuesday.
Tymoshenko must now tender her resignation but should continue functioning as prime minister until the formation of a new cabinet.
It is expected that her party, the Tymoshenko Bloc, will either form an alliance with the pro-Russian Regions Party.
Alternatively, if a new coalition is not formed within 30 days, new elections may be held. The elections would be Ukraine's third in three years.
Former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who was backed by Moscow, was initially declared the winner of a 2004 presidential election. Mass protests led to the outcome being overturned and he lost a rerun vote to Yushchenko.
A poll in the weekly Zerkalo Nedeli showed Tymoshenko's bloc with 24.1 percent support -- just ahead of the 23.3 percent enjoyed by former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych's Regions Party, which is largely seen as a Russia-friendly party. The president's Our Ukraine scored 3.8 percent.