Bulgaria’s nationalist parliamentary group the Patriotic Front has begun behind-the-scenes talks on attempting to form a government, should President Rossen Plevneliev offer it an exploratory mandate to do so.
The centre-right Reformist Bloc, the other minority partner in outgoing Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s coalition government arrangement, has taken a more cautious approach to dealing with any mandate offered it, signalling both a possible willingness to try to form a government, but also saying that it is working towards early elections.
This emerged on November 30, a day after Plevenliev held a meeting of the Consultative Council on National Security – involving all parliamentary groups, key ministers and security and defence chiefs – to discuss options for resolving the crisis that has ensued from Borissov’s resignation.
Plevneliev is keen on a new elected government being formed, rather than him having to appoint a caretaker cabinet.
The Patriotic Front, the fifth-largest group in the National Assembly but which has forged a new alliance with Volen Siderov’s far-right Ataka, has indicated that it is interested in trying to form an administration, including some of Borissov’s cabinet ministers but without Borissov himself at the head of government.
The efforts towards negotiating a government that would have sufficient support in the National Assembly are being made under the umbrella of the “United Patriots”, the name of the joint ticket in Bulgaria’s November 2016 presidential elections that brought together nationalist and ultra-nationalist groups both inside and outside Parliament.
Sources have indicated that Borissov has held informal meetings with nationalist leaders about his GERB party – the largest parliamentary group – backing a new minority government.
Media reports on November 30 also said that Plevneliev would prefer to offer an exploratory mandate to the Reformist Bloc than to the Patriotic Front.
The constitution obliges the President to offer the first two successive mandates to the two largest parliamentary groups – GERB and the Bulgarian Socialist Party, respectively. Both have said that they will refuse. After that, Plevneliev will have a free hand to choose from any other parliamentary group.
PF co-leader Valeri Simeonov said on November 30 that discussions were being held with the Reformist Bloc and others, but not the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and Lyutvi Mestan’s MRF breakaway, DOST.
Simeonov said that his group was taking on the task because there was a risk that the state would be thrown into limbo and into crisis, so the group was trying to “do the impossible”.
He indicated he would seek GERB and BSP support for a “nationally responsible government with professionals, not political parties”.
The BSP reiterated on November 30 that it wanted early parliamentary elections and did not believe that a new government should be formed on the basis of the current National Assembly.
Naiden Zelenogorski of the Reformist Bloc said that very soon it would become clear whether the bloc would attempt to form a government.
He said that mainly, the bloc were working for early elections, which were expected to be in late March or early April 2017.
The bloc wanted a government that had a horizon of two years, the lifespan remaining to the current National Assembly (unless it is dissolved in January) otherwise forming a government now would not be worth it, Zelenogorski said.