Unlucky for some: Bulgaria’s cabinet likely to survive Friday 13th vote

The morning of June 13 is to see the National Assembly vote on the motion of no confidence in the current government, with reasonable certainty that the cabinet will survive – and survive all through the rest of the day and several days to come, going by the latest political developments in Bulgaria.

Lyutvi Mestan, the leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, whose June 5 call for early parliamentary elections lent new impetus to the process of the departure of Bulgaria’s beleaguered cabinet, predicted that the motion of no confidence – tabled, like its four predecessors, by centre-right opposition GERB – would be defeated and would not spell the immediate end of the cabinet.

That may sound like a redundancy, but the link between the completion of the no-confidence vote and the ensuing resignation of the cabinet, as proposed by Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Sergei Stanishev, seems to have gone. It has not been a question of the cabinet being brought down by a vote in Parliament, but by a decision by its political sponsors who now see the cabinet as untenable.

This is after Stanishev, who in spite of official accounts to the contrary reportedly came in for a barracking at the BSP June 10 national council meeting over the party’s European Parliament elections defeat, the latest over which he has presided, failed to get his way in speeding the resignation of the cabinet to hold early parliamentary elections in July.

Now, political talk is that the elections are likely to be closer to the end of September, with the cabinet in which Plamen Oresharski was installed in the prime minister’s chair in May 2013 remaining in place until late July.

GERB leader Boiko Borissov, whose party took the largest share votes in the May 2014 European Parliament vote, as it did in the May 2013 National Assembly election, has been sending out anything but triumphant messages.

Borissov, whose GERB may reasonably be expected to again get the most votes when the 43rd National Assembly is elected and whose party has been hinting out scenarios whereby it could form a governing coalition (the centre-right Reformist Bloc has been mentioned), had ominous words in an interview with public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio on June 11.

Bulgaria, Borissov said, had hit rock bottom and even the next government would hardly be able to take Bulgaria out of the crisis.

He excoriated what he called the current ruling three-party coalition (a reference to the BSP, MRF and far-right ultra-nationalists Ataka) for going beyond all bounds of behaviour in recent days.

Borissov said that in the course of the day, those in power had voted into office the membership of the new version of the National Audit Office, designated a new head of the National Statistical Institute and, he added scornfully, raised pensions by three percentage points. Separately, media reports pointed out that this increase in social old-age pensions added up to three leva – about 1.5 euro.

In just one year, the current government had led Bulgaria into a catastrophe from which, even if there was a new government in the autumn, it would take years to rescue the country, Borissov said.

Also on July 11, at yet another day of turbulent emotions and acrimony in the 42nd National Assembly, debate on the GERB motion of no confidence in the cabinet on the grounds of its failings in financial policy proceeded for about three and a half hours.

Oresharski attended most of the debate, but the former finance minister did not speak in it.
It remains uncertain for how long Oresharski will draw the head of government’s salary.

Some reports suggested that the MRF now favoured the GERB proposal of September 29, although advisers to President Rossen Plevneliev were said to be keener on a date in late October.

The issue of the early election date is to be discussed at a June 17 meeting, convened by Plevneliev as head of state, of the Consultative Council on National Security.



The Sofia Globe staff

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