Year in Review 2017: Bulgaria in April

Written by on December 14, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Year in Review 2017: Bulgaria in April

On April 2, a week after the parliamentary elections, Bulgaria’s Central Election Commission manages to publish a full list of all 240 MPs elected. As usual, some candidates were elected in more than one electoral district, including Boiko Borissov. Those candidates can choose which of those districts they want to be connected to.

A day later, Borissov, the leader of Bulgaria’s centre-right GERB party, takes personal charge of the team which will negotiate with potential coalition partners. At this stage, a coalition with the radical right-wing “United Patriots” already seems likely.

In April, Boiko Borissov starts talks with potential coalition partners.

During the first days of April, President Roumen Radev seeks to defend the controversial scrapping of a government regulation on the integration of refugees, saying that “loyal EU membership does not mean a mechanical copying of regulations”. A few days earlier, the caretaker cabinet headed by Prime Minister Ognyan Gerdzhikov had abolished the 2016 decree on the integration of refugees, which had provided for the use of EU funds for a voluntary scheme for municipalities to carry out projects ranging from Bulgarian-language training to schooling and job-finding for refugees.

Caretaker PM Gerdzhikov scrapped an EU regulation on the integration of refugees. Photo by BNT.

From a transcript of the caretaker cabinet meeting, it has become clear that the decision was taken in spite of the misgivings of several members of the interim administration, and that Radev was the prime mover in getting Gerdzhikov to propose the scrapping of the regulation.

In the meantime, a check by Sofia City Court finds numerous breaches of Bulgarian legislation in the issuing of wire-tapping warrants in 2015, including 52 instances of warrants targeting persons with diplomatic immunity, according to a court report.

A wiretapping scandal surfaces in April. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

During the same month, a discussion about the future of Sofia’s famous book market is being held. Book sellers protest against plans to get rid of their market during the planned renovation of the square it is located at. But then Mayor Yordanka Fandakova promises the book market will stay. The renovation, which was also supposed include Graf Ignatiev Street, is being postponed indefinitely.

Mayor Fandakova wants to keep Sofia’s book market.

The polling agency Alpha Research comes to the conclusion that there is “no evidence of radicalisation among Bulgaria’s Muslims, who overwhelmingly favoured a secular state”. This is the result of one of the agency’s surveys.

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee lists violations it registered during the parliamentary elections. Most of those have to do with Bulgaria’s Turkish minority, according to the NGO. The BHC says, the sharp decline of votes cast by Bulgarians from Turkey was directly connected to the drastic reduction of polling stations in that country.

In a related matter, the blame game is continuing in a controversy about draft legislation posted on the Bulgarian Justice Ministry website, which envisaged cutting Bulgarians off their right to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections if they had not been resident in the country for at least three months before the vote.

GERB and the radical “Patriots” are keen to sign a coalition agreement.

Boiko Borissov’s GERB and the “United Patriots” are quick. On April 13, they announce an agreement on their governance programme, while it turns out the new National Assembly is very diverse. It includes a handful of generals, a model, a football referee and a gaggle of lawyers.

The new National assembly includes a model, generals and lots of lawyers. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

President Roumen Radev sees “many disturbing facts” about the fence Bulgaria is building along its border to Turkey, while there is a political row over elevated uranium levels in water in three Bulgarian towns.

On April 21, Bulgaria’s former President Rossen Plevneliev sharply criticises his successor Roumen Radev. It is not the first time.

Former President Rosen Plevneliev sharply criticises his successor Radev.

The leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Kornelia Ninova, says the governance programme introduced by GERB and the “Patriots” was a “serious retreat” from their election commitments.

Borissov gets the mandate to form a government from President Radev.

At a ceremony on April 27, President Roumen Radev hands GERB party leader Boiko Borissov a mandate to form a government, after Borissov’s party signed an agreement with the nationalist United Patriots to form a coalition government.

During a movie shoot at Nu Boyana Film Studios in Sofia, Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage breaks his ankle and is being flown out of the country for treatment.

Year in Review 2017: Bulgaria in January

Year in review 2017: Bulgaria in February

Year in review 2017: Bulgaria in March

 

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com