Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov officially tabled his government’s resignation on November 14, as he had said he would do the night before in the wake of his party’s landslide defeat in the presidential elections.
Stating the constitutionally obvious, Borissov said that his government would stay in office until a caretaker cabinet is appointed.
Borissov said on November 13, about an hour and a half after polls closed showing an overwhelming victory for opposition socialist-backed Roumen Radev in the presidential elections, that he would resign. A week earlier, he had staked the future of his government on his GERB party’s candidate Tsetska Tsacheva winning.
The Central Election Commission said on November 14 that with all electoral tally sheets processed, Radev won 59.37 per cent, Tsacheva 36.16 per cent, and about 4.35 per cent opted for “I don’t support anyone”. Turnout was 50.3 per cent.
Radev met with President Rossen Plevneliev on November 14, accepting the invitation that the incumbent extended on election day to the winner of the run-off. After the meeting, the presidency’s media office said that the two discussed “the current political situation in the country and the need for co-ordinated and transparent actions by all institutions in order to avoid a political crisis.”
Plevneliev and Radev exchanged opinions on the presidency’s actions in the upcoming months, the statement said, but gave no further details.
Under the constitution, should the National Assembly fail to invest a cabinet after three attempts, the president appoints a caretaker cabinet and calls early parliamentary elections, but Plevneliev is barred from dissolving Parliament in his last three months in office, which means that it would be president-elect Radev, after he takes office on January 22 2017, that will have to issue the decree to call snap elections.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Radev thanked Plevneliev for the invitation, saying that it was extended in a spirit of maintaining continuity in the presidential administration. Radev said that Plevneliev had offered his assurances that the two would consult on matters regarding the caretaker cabinet, but also said that no names of potential caretaker ministers were discussed during the meeting on November 14.
There was a flurry on Monday when Menda Stoyanova, the GERB MP who heads Parliament’s committee on the budget, said that the Budget Bill 2017 would be withdrawn. Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov denied this.
The Central Election Commission said on November 14 that it would not impose sanctions on Borissov or Radev for breaking the law against campaigning on election day.
Both Borissov and Radev made statements that violated the law against election-day canvassing. However, a recommendation that both be penalised did not get the required two-thirds support in a commission vote, and so no sanction will be imposed.
Bulgarian Socialist Party former MP Petar Kurumbashev is to become a member of the European Parliament, in the place of Iliyana Yotova who was elected Bulgaria’s vice-president on November 13. Kurumbashev was fourth place on the BSP electoral candidate list in May 2014, when the socialist party won four of Bulgaria’s 17 EP seats. However, Kurumbashev did not become an MEP because he was displace by preferential voting.
The United States embassy in Sofia said in a statement that it congratulated Radev “and looks forward to working with him to advance the goals Bulgaria and the United States share, including increased prosperity for our people, transatlantic ties and values, NATO engagement and solidarity, defense modernization, and border security.
“The United States is committed to continuing to strengthen and deepen the friendship and partnership between our peoples,” the US embassy said.
Congratulations also came from Moscow, with the Kremlin saying that Russian president Vladimir Putin “noted the significant potential for further development of Russian-Bulgarian relations, which are based on ancient traditions of friendship, cultural and spiritual kinship”.
Putin also said that he was confident it was possible to “give a new impulse to bilateral political dialogue and expand constructive co-operation in different areas in the interests of the brotherly people of the two countries.”
In all, it could at very least be said that November 13 was not a good day for Borissov and GERB, considering that the day ended with his resignation following the presidential election defeat. In a Sofia municipal by-election in the Mladost area, GERB’s candidate for mayor, Tsveta Avdzhieva, was decisively beaten by Dessislava Ivancheva, who had been leading protests on environmental issues in the area.