A week after Bulgaria’s March 26 2017 National Assembly elections, the Central Election Commission announced the full list of 240 MPs elected.
The list was finalised after taking account of various factors such as candidates who were elected in more than one electoral district, and those initially deemed elected who informed the commission that they did not want to take up their seats.
Twelve people, including GERB leader Boiko Borissov, were elected in more than one place. Bulgarian law allows a person in this position to choose in which district they were elected. In the case of Borissov, he chose Plovdiv, vacating the spot he won in Sofia’s 25th electoral district – a move that has enabled Roumyana Buchvarova to be deemed to have been elected there.
Buchvarova, who was interior minister in Borissov’s second cabinet, is one of a number of GERB figures from Borissov’s previous governments to have gained a seat in the 44th National Assembly.
Others include Ivelina Vassileva, environment minister in Borissov’s second cabinet, Lilyana Pavlova, regional development minister in both the 2009 and 2014 cabinets (in the first government, succeeding Rossen Plevneliev in that portfolio), Krassen Kralev, sports minister in the second cabinet, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, interior minister in Borissov’s first cabinet, Tomislav Donchev, deputy prime minister in charge of EU funds in Borissov’s two governments, and Ekaterina Zaharieva, justice minister in the second Borissov government after Hristo Ivanov resigned.
Others are Ivailo Moskovski, twice transport minister, Vezhdi Rashidov, twice culture minister, Dessislava Atanassova, health minister in Borissov’s first government, Dessislava Taneva, agriculture minister in the second Borissov cabinet, Vladislav Goranov, deputy finance minister in the first Borissov government and finance minister in the second, Nikolina Angelkova, tourism minister in the second cabinet, Temenushka Petkova, energy minister in the second cabinet, and Delyan Dobrev, economy and energy minister in the latter part of Borissov’s first government.
Bulgarian cabinet ministers are not MPs, so if Borissov succeeds in forming a government and appoints some, most or all of these newly-elected MPs to it, the list of GERB’s representatives in the National Assembly will change again.
Notably not re-elected to Parliament is its former Speaker, GERB’s Tsetska Tsacheva. She was the principal presiding officer of the 2009/13 and 2014/17 parliaments, but through preferential voting – by which Bulgarian voters can re-arrange candidate lists – Tsacheva was not returned to this Parliament. It was Tsacheva who lost, as GERB’s candidate in the presidential elections of November 2016, who lost to socialist-backed Roumen Radev, prompting Borissov to resign as prime minister and ultimately precipitating these parliamentary elections.
Initial lists of elected MPs showed that in the March 2017 elections, Bulgaria’s electorate used the opportunity of preferential voting fairly extensively – about 17 MPs were elected this way, most in the case of the BSP, with GERB in second place and also in one case each with the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, and Volya.
While Borissov vacated his place among those elected in the 25th electoral district in Sofia, the same district is the one from which a number of party leaders have been elected – having been the scene of what the Bulgarian-language media dubbed the “leaders’ battle”. These include Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Kornelia Ninova, United Patriots co-leader Valeri Simeonov and Volya party leader Vesselin Mareshki.
The list of BSP MPs includes some first-timers in the National Assembly, among them former Olympic sports shooting silver medal winner Vessela Lacheva and Elena Yoncheva, author of a number of television documentaries and briefly head of President Radev’s communications office.
The BSP has two MPs called Ivan Ivanov – the Slavonic equivalent of John Johnson and among the most common names in Bulgaria – one from Varna and the other from the town of Shoumen.
United Patriots co-leader Krassimir Karakachanov was declared elected from Pleven, and the third United Patriots co-leader and Ataka leader Volen Siderov, from Yambol.
Mustafa Karadaya, leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, won election in the party’s traditional stronghold of Kurdzhali. Controversial figure Delyan Peevski won election at the head of the MRF tickets in Pazardzhik and Blagoevgrad and chose to be declared elected from the latter.
As was announced earlier this week, in the 44th National Assembly, Borissov’s GERB party has 95 MPs, the BSP 80, the nationalist United Patriots 27, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms 26 and Mareshki’s Volya 12.
For GERB, this is an increase from the 84 seats it won in the 2014 parliamentary elections, and for the BSP, a considerable jump from the 39 at the previous elections.
In the election of the October 2014 National Assembly, the Karakachanov-Simeonov Patriotic Front coalition won 19 seats and Siderov’s Ataka got 11. In the March 2017 parliamentary elections, together as the United Patriots, their total number of MPs is lower than the PF-Ataka total at the end of the previous Parliament.
The announcement of the names of the elected MPs came on the eve of a week in which Borissov’s GERB will embark on formal negotiations on attempting to form a coalition government. For a cabinet to be voted into office, it must have the support of a minimum 121 MPs.
The Sofia Globe’s timeline of key political events in Bulgaria from 2007 to 2017 can found here.
(Photo of the National Assembly building in Sofia: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)