Bulgarian President initiates political consultations, sees new Parliament sitting by end of May

Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev says that he is certain that the newly-elected Parliament will hold its first sitting by the end of May and is holding political consultations, separately, on May 17 with the four parties that won seats in it.

At a news conference broadcast live on national television three days after the parliamentary elections that resulted in uncertainty about the next government, Plevneliev underlined his view that the legislature and a new government should be constituted as soon as possible.

According to results issued by the Central Election Commission, with all votes in Bulgaria and abroad counted, Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party got the largest single share of votes, 30.5 per cent. But the other three parties that won seats are vehemently opposed to GERB returning to power.

The second-largest group, the socialists, have said that they want a “programme government” with broad political support to take over the running of the country. Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Sergei Stanishev has announced that his party would conduct political consultations with the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and with ultra-nationalists Ataka. Stanishev said that on May 14, he asked Plevneliev to convene the first sitting of Parliament as soon as possible, preferably before the May 24 long weekend.

In spite of earlier reports on May 15 in the Bulgarian-language media that Plevneliev would announce May 22 as the date of the first sitting of the 42nd National Assembly, the President said only that he believed that the formal opening of Parliament would happen before the end of May “at the latest”.

He said that he was inviting the four parties to consultations with him. These are to take place on May 17, in accordance with the share of votes each one. The meeting with GERB is scheduled for 10am, the BSP 11am, the MRF at noon and Ataka at 1pm. A key issue at the consultations will be a quest for agreement on the date of the first sitting of the new National Assembly.

Plevneliev said that he would deliver a special address at this first sitting.

Plevneliev, who emphasised that he would act in accordance with the constitution, said that he would offer the first mandate to attempt to form a government to the party with the largest share of votes. This means GERB.

“After that, everything will be in political parties’ hands,” Plevneliev said.

Borissov reportedly intends to accept the mandate and present a proposed cabinet to Parliament for approval, even though it is inevitable that the three other parties will reject Borissov’s proposal.

Constitutionally, the President must then hand a mandate to the second-largest party. Should that phase fail, he may offer a mandate to another party, and at the conclusion of that stage no government has been approved by MPs, Parliament must be dissolved and, under a caretaker government, Bulgaria will return to the ballot boxes two months later. There has been widespread speculation that, given the balance in Parliament and the unpredictable factor of fractiousness between and within parties, the May 12 elections may result only in further elections in the autumn.

But Plevneliev made it clear that he wanted to see the responsibility accepted to form a new government.

Political parties should now work to strengthen the ties between the voters and the politicians, he said.

Plevneliev rejected any allegation that the elections were so flawed as to deserve official rejection.

International observers had confirmed that the election had proceeded acceptably while allegations of violations of the elections process would be conducted by the relevant authorities, he said.

“I see no grounds to overturn the elections,” Plevneliev said.

Going to new elections now would destabilise the country and would not be viewed well by investors, he said.

At the same time, Plevneliev said that “not every coalition, at any price” would be good for Bulgaria. He also underlined that the Presidency would not involve itself in backroom bargaining on the political future.

“As a convinced democrat, I accept the vote of the people as it is and I believe that we must go forward. The task is not easy, but it is solvable. With fewer scandals and more work, results will come to the nation irrespective of the structures within Parliament.”

Although facing a number of questions from journalists about the alleged illegal ballots that were the subject of a raid by prosecutors and State Agency for National Security agents on May 10, Plevneliev said that a chance should be given to the relevant authorities investigating the matter to do their jobs.




Clive Leviev-Sawyer

Clive Leviev-Sawyer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe. He is the author of the book Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century (Riva Publishers, 2015), and co-author of the book Bulgarian Jews: Living History (The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria 'Shalom', 2018). He is also the author of Power: A Political Novel, available via amazon.com, and, on the lighter side, Whiskers And Other Short Tales of Cats (2021), also available via Amazon. He has translated books and numerous texts from Bulgarian into English.