Bulgarian caretaker prime minister Marin Raykov’s cabinet is unlikely to be expecting the traditional honeymoon granted a new government, and given the reactions from political parties, it should not.
Raykov’s administration, scheduled to be sworn in on March 13, will have to lead the way to fair and transparent elections on May 12 but also take steps – within the existing budget framework – to address the concerns among Bulgarians about difficulties in making ends meet that have contributed to nationwide protests.
Predictably, among the mellowest reactions came from Boiko Borissov’s GERB party.
“Let’s give these worthy people an opportunity to do their work,” GERB parliamentary group leader Krassimir Velchev said, at the same time admitting of the “worthy people”, he knew only two, Raykov and Ekaterina Zaharieva, deputy prime minister and minister of regional development.
Velchev said that the others were unknown to him but he sincerely hoped that they were good experts. It was not important to know them well; what was important was the preservation of financial discipline and elections being held in a peaceful atmosphere.
Sergei Stanishev, leader of the largest opposition party in the 41st National Assembly, the Bulgarian Socialist Party, said that President Rossen Plevneliev’s call for the lineup of the caretaker cabinet not to be judged but to do its work was “impossible”.
“We will judge the caretaker cabinet by its actions,” Stanishev said, saying that the main priorities for Raykov’s administration should be fair elections, and “the truth about the condition of the state” – in the public sector, of the budget, of companies with state majority ownership – so that the Borissov government’s legacy could be known.
Fair elections are impossible, if the Interior Ministry leadership remains unchanged, Stanishev said.
“Appointing Mrs. Parvanova, who was in charge of European affairs, as interim interior minister can hardly give any guarantees that this will not happen. Today I revealed information about shadowing, tapping and opening files of the leaders of the protestors. Her first trial will be whether she will reveal the truth about this information. Who ordered it and whether there is a permit to use special intelligence techniques, the BSP leader said, quoted by local news agency Focus.
“The elections are organised by the Interior Ministry to a great extent and it has to guarantee that they comply with the laws, but so far the Interior Ministry has been fulfilling Mr. [Tsvetan] Tsvetanov’s political order, Stanishev said.
The socialist leader said that “there is a suspicion that the interim government is a second reserve team of GERB, because many of its members were deputy ministers in the outgoing government and were politically appointed by GERB.
Lyutvi Mestan, of the third-largest opposition party, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms – the socialists’ former partners in government before their defeat by Borissov in 2009 – cast doubts over all the ministers in the Raykov cabinet being non-partisan.
Mestan said that Raykov himself was linked to Ivan Kostov. Kostov, currently leader of the minority right-wing Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria, was prime minister from 1997 to 2001 and Raykov served in his administration as deputy foreign minister.
Martin Dimitrov, co-leader of the centre-right Blue Coalition, said that Raykov was a “very good professional” and had good words for Zaharieva and for finance minister Kalin Hristov, the latter being, according to Dimitrov, “one of the best economists in Bulgaria”.
“I do not know the others, but I would say that the economic part of the team leaves good impressions in me,” said Dimitrov, himself an economist.
Ultra-nationalist Ataka leader Volen Siderov said that Raykov had, while deputy foreign minister, “worked in Ankara’s interests”, preventing – according to Siderov – Parliament adopting a declaration on the Armenian genocide and also having to take the blame for the Bulgarian medics persecuted for years under the Gaddafi regime. “He (Raykov) is a person who works for foreign interests, not Bulgarian ones,” Siderov said.
Yane Yanev, leader of the Order Law and Justice party, which has too few MPs for official recognition as a parliamentary group, said that his party would analyse the work of each minister and then give an “impartial assessment” of their work.
Speaking for Meglena Kouneva’s Bulgaria for Citizens party, which has ambitions of getting seats in Parliament after the May 12 election, Daniel Vulchev said that the movement had two main expectations of the Raykov caretaker cabinet; fair, transparent and democratic elections; and that the caretaker administration would give a “very clear picture of what it finds in government”.