Bulgarian head of state President Rossen Plevneliev continued his series of consultations with political parties on November 22, in an attempt to resolve the country’s political crisis, but the talks again left the country no closer to an elected government.
With all significant parties refusing to attempt to form a governing coalition after the resignation of Boiko Borissov’s cabinet, the only government that Bulgaria will have in the short term is a caretaker one.
On November 22, Plevneliev met the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and the Reformist Bloc, the third- and fourth-largest groups, respectively, out of the eight in the National Assembly.
Last week, he met the largest two, GERB and the Bulgarian Socialist Party, both of which have refused to try to form a government, reiterating this position clearly even before Plevneliev starts the procedure – set out in the constitution – for offering exploratory mandates on government formation.
MRF leader Mustafa Karadaya, emerging from the talks with Plevneliev, stated the obvious: “In this Parliament, the various forms and options for forming a government have been exhausted”.
Karadaya said that there was nothing rare about going to early parliamentary elections and he saw no problem with this.
The Reformist Bloc could not form a government without GERB, the bloc’s parliamentary group leader Naiden Zelenogorski said after the talks with Plevneliev.
Asked whether there could be a government within the current Parliament, Bozhidar Lukarski – leader of one of the bloc’s constituent parties and Economy Minister in the outgoing Cabinet – said that if the Reformist Bloc was offered a mandate by Plevneliev “then we will think and reflect, but this cannot happen without the colleagues from GERB within this Parliament”.
Zelenogorski said that the Reformist Bloc would not contribute members to a caretaker cabinet. This statement matched earlier ones by GERB leader Borissov and BSP leader Kornelia Ninova, who each said that their parties would not be putting forward anyone for a caretaker administration to be appointed by Plevneliev.
On November 23, Plevneliev is scheduled to hold consultations with, respectively, the nationalist Patriotic Front and the Bulgarian Democratic Centre. The Patriotic Front has 17 MPs in the 240-member National Assembly and BDC has 14.
In the November 2016 presidential elections, the Patriotic Front formed an electoral alliance with Volen Siderov’s Ataka and following a creditable performance by candidate Krassimir Karakachanov, who ran third out of 21 candidates, the two groups – who together have 28 MPs – pledged to continue working together. But again, these smaller parties, in the face of refusal by the larger ones, cannot muster the arithmetic needed to form a governing coalition.
After Plevneliev’s meetings with the Patriotic Front and BDC, only one parliamentary group remains, ABC, which has 11 MPs – the same number as Ataka.
Once the political consultations are concluded, Plevneliev may proceed to the ritual of mandate-offering. However, he has said that he may convene a meeting of the Consultative Council on National Security, to discuss the way forward out of the current political situation, before taking that step.