Moments after formally turning down the offer to form a government anew, Boiko Borissov challenged the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party and Movement for Rights and Freedoms to accept a mandate from President Rossen Plevneliev to form a government instead of standing aside to make way for a caretaker government.
On February 25 2013, Borissov came to the Presidency to carry out the ritual of accepting a mandate to form a government and – after 10 seconds, by Borissov’s count – returning it. When announcing his government’s resignation last week, he had said that in the face of the nationwide protests he wanted Bulgaria to hold elections for his government to seek a new “credit of confidence”.
Plevneliev has convened political consultations with leaders of parties represented in Parliament about the way forward, and the BSP and MRF, respectively the second- and third-largest parties in the National Assembly, have said that they too will return the mandate to form a government.
Once all three parties have refused the offered mandate, the President must appoint a caretaker government, dissolve Parliament and set a date for parliamentary elections, which in turn must be held within two months. Plevneliev said last week that he expected that the probable date of such elections would be between mid-April and mid-May.
Addressing a news conference on February 25 jointly with Borissov, Plevneliev said that he would offer a mandate to govern to the BSP on February 27.
Plevneliev, who has in effect publicly criticised Borissov for abandoning political responsibility by not serving the few months remaining to the GERB government’s term, was at pains to underline that the institutions in Bulgaria were working and would continue to do so. The government, in spite of its resignation, also was continuing to do its job, Plevneliev said.
The National Assembly had important work to do as the next steps in the constitution were fulfilled, he said.
Plevneliev firmly declined to answer any questions related to speculation about the caretaker government. He said that there were important tasks to carry out and every day clear factual information would be given.
In turn, Borissov, who has been out of sight since Parliament accepted his government’s resignation, came out fighting, saying that his government had been bearing the political responsibility alone for the past four years.
He said that Plevneliev had spoken about political responsibility. Accusing the socialists and the MRF of having plotted various means to bring his government down through various allegations raised against him – including the “Agent Buddha” episode – Borissov said that as had happened previously in Romania, Plevneliev should hand the mandate to the opposition to serve out the government’s term and they should accept it.
Scornfully, Borissov painted a scenario of what would happen if the socialists and the MRF took power in the about two months remaining – as to whether they would raise pensions, reduce prices, break up the monopolies, successfully handle EU funds and complete infrastructure projects. He challenged the two opposition parties, in government, to meet the protesters and transform their demands into reality.
Borissov said that the socialists, under Sergei Stanishev, had a shadow cabinet so should have no trouble appointing a cabinet to govern.
Borissov said that he would “guarantee” to always have 20 GERB MPs in Parliament so that it could function while the BSP-MRF coalition provided the rest required for a quorum to approve laws.
He said that with the socialists in power, Stanishev’s repeated allegation that GERB planned to manipulate the elections so that Borissov’s party would win would fall away.
If the two parties were honest, he said, they would accept responsibility for government rather than have a caretaker government in place. They should “accept responsibility before all protesters and the nation,” Borissov said.
This past weekend, Plevneliev announced that he was convening a meeting of the Consultative Council on National Security for February 26. The council, made up of leaders of political parties represented in Parliament, ministers with security and other strategic portfolios and security and intelligence chiefs, is scheduled to discuss “risks and threats for the security and stability in the country, resulting from the political and social crisis”.
Plevneliev said that he would address Parliament on February 28. The names of those who would serve in the interim cabinet would be made public from the middle of next week onward, he said.
(Photo, of Borissov, left, and President Plevneliev: V Nikolov/president.bg)