Bulgaria’s National Assembly will vote on November 16 on accepting the resignation of Boiko Borissov’s government, and chances are that the person presiding will be the presidential candidate whose defeat was the catalyst for the resignation.
Tsetska Tsacheva, the candidate for Borissov’s GERB party whose November 13 defeat at the hands of socialist-backed Roumen Radev prompted the Prime Minister to resign, said on November 15 that she would not resign from her post as Speaker of the National Assembly.
Tsacheva said on election night, after the exit poll results were announced showing a landslide victory by Radev, that she would step down as Speaker and even quit as an MP should her party ask this of her. But on Tuesday, she said that she had her party’s backing to continue as Parliament’s principal presiding officer.
The 2pm sitting of the National Assembly on November 16 is certain to see the resignation of Borissov’s government accepted.
That triggers the constitutionally-prescribed ritual of the President offering a mandate to seek to form a government to a succession of three parties: the largest (GERB), the second-largest (the Bulgarian Socialist Party) and then one of his choice.
Failure to form a government with sufficient support in Parliament means the next step, the President appointing a caretaker government. With some differing opinions regarding the other steps, the dissolving of Parliament and the calling of elections, President Rossen Plevneliev has asked the Constitutional Court for an opinion on the way forward.
The first step of the process, the offering of a mandate to the GERB parliamentary group’s leadership to seek to form a government, will happen on November 17. Borissov has said that this mandate will be refused. The BSP, second in line, has said the same.
Meanwhile, the BSP said that its leader Kornelia Ninova had invited leaderships of other parliamentary groups for talks on November 15.
The statement said that Ninova had secured their “agreement and understanding” that together, and responsibly, they should ensure law and order in Bulgaria and prevent political instability.
It was not immediately clear on what basis Ninova had taken the initiative for the meeting. The BSP is not Parliament’s largest group – that is GERB, with 84 MPs – while the socialist party has 38 MPs, making it the second-largest party by some distance.
In spite of the BSP statement having said that Ninova was meeting “other parliamentary groups” she said on November 15: “I have not called the colleagues from GERB and I do not expect to meet them”.
Analysts commenting after the presidential election noted that Radev’s victory came as a result of significantly reduced turnout among GERB and other centre-right voters who spurned supporting Tsacheva, while the BSP-backed candidate picked up votes from a range of other parties defeated at the first round, while showing no sign of expanding the party’s own electorate.
November 15 inevitably saw the post-mortems on the presidential election results continuing. Tomislav Donchev, a senior GERB member who is currently Deputy Prime Minister in charge of EU funds, said that the result was the consequence of the mistakes of the past two years (Borissov’s current coalition government came to power in November 2014).
“This is the result of how we have conducted ourselves in the past two years,” Donchev said in a breakfast television interview with public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television.
Donchev’s Cabinet colleague, Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev, was the subject of a complaint by the BSP to the Prosecutor-General on November 15.
The BSP objected to an article by Nenchev in the Defence Ministry’s newspaper Bulgarian Army, published in the week before the November 13 presidential election run-off vote. BSP MP Atanas Zafirov said that it was not appropriate for the newspaper, funded by the state, to be used for political propaganda.
Nenchev and Radev, the latter formerly the commander of Bulgaria’s Air Force, have long been at daggers drawn.
Nenchev’s article was headlined “Impudent lies by a presidential candidate”. The article has been removed from the ministry’s website.
(Photo: Jaime Pérez)