The election of a new Ukrainian parliament on Monday, in which the pro-Western parties add up to a solid majority, is a substantial step forward, even though the Ukrainian economy is still in severe difficulties, with Russia driving a hard bargain on heating fuel for the winter.
The bloc of two parties led by President Petro Poroshenko, the party of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk, and a new Western Ukraine-based party called Self-Reliance are likely to constitute a coherent coalition, and may be able to build a larger supermajority in favour of wide-ranging economic and political reforms.
The Pro-Russian militants in the eastern Donbass region of the country have been tossing around the word "fascist" when speaking of the Kiev government. There are indeed some virulently anti-Russian nationalist factions in Ukraine, but the new parliamentary majority isn't built on them.
Viktor Yanukovych, the former president, who destructively vacillated between European and Russian trade agreements, fled the country in February to avoid prosecution for corruption. That was an insecure basis for reform and for opening to the West. With a recently elected President and a new parliament, clear political legitimacy has at last been re-established.
Gaps remain. The restoration of Crimea, illegally annexed by Russia, is hardly a near prospect. And voting was not possible in the various enclaves and statelets in parts of eastern Ukraine, where Russia and pro-Russian militants are still in control. In the long run, however, such entities are not viable – except as irritants encouraged by Moscow.
The citizens of those parts of eastern Ukraine will eventually want representation in the country's parliament. Indeed, one party that essentially consists of former supporters of Mr. Yanukovych will have a contingent in the new parliament – and of course, there's nothing wrong with having an opposition. Notably, no Communists were elected.
Liberal-democratic Ukrainian politicians can't descend into petty squabbles of the kind that consumed a former president and a former prime minister: Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, who squandered the opportunity in the Orange Revolution of 2004-2005. This time, European-minded parties must co-operate – and keep their eyes on the prize.