Bulgaria’s government resignation: what happens next?

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov submitted his resignation to Parliament on February 20, but will remain in office for a while longer, according to the procedural rules set out in Bulgaria’s constitution.

Parliament is set to vote on Borissov’s resignation on February 21 and should MPs accept the resignation, as they are expected to, the current Cabinet will continue in office until a new government is elected, according to article 111, paragraph 3 of the constitution.

If Borissov’s resignation is accepted, President Rossen Plevneliev will have to hold consultations with the second-largest parliamentary group, which will have to nominate its prime minister-designate. After receiving an official mandate from the President to form a cabinet, the prime minister-designate will have seven days to form a government and secure Parliament’s approval.

In the current Parliament, that would be the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party.

“Should the new Prime Minister-designate also fail to form a government within the period established by the preceding paragraph, the President shall entrust the task to a Prime Minister-designate nominated by one of the minor parliamentary groups,” according to constitution article 99, paragraph 3.

In case the third attempt fails too, “the President shall appoint a caretaker government, dissolve the National Assembly and schedule new elections” (article 99, paragraph 5). These, under article 64, paragraph 3 of the constitution, have to be held “within two months from the expiry of the mandate of the preceding one”.

With Borissov’s party, GERB, holding close to a majority in Parliament, the odds of an attempt to form a new government appeared slim, making it likely that Bulgaria would hold snap elections just months before the scheduled parliamentary elections, due in summer.

Depending on the length of negotiations between political parties and the presidency, as well as how long the prime minister-designates hold onto their mandates to form a government, the most likely time frame for snap elections appeared to be in April and May.

However, these could be held even sooner should political parties refuse a mandate to form the new government and if President Plevneliev decides to call elections before the two-month deadline specified in the constitution.

After the political instability of the 1990s, which saw eight cabinet changes between February 1990 and May 1997, Borissov’s three predecessors in office all saw out their terms in full – these were Ivan Kostov (1997-2001), Simeon Saxe-Coburg (2001-2005) and Sergei Stanishev (2005-2009).

In the 1990s, there were two interim cabinets governing Bulgaria for a brief period – headed by Reneta Indjova (in October 1994-January 1995) and Stefan Sofianski (in February 1997-May 1997). The Sofianski government, in particular, was appointed following violent street protests that brought down the Socialist-led cabinet of Zhan Videnov, which were sparked by the banking system’s collapse and hyperinflation.

(Cabinet building in Sofia. Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)



Alex Bivol

Alex Bivol is the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe.