Bulgaria will hold early parliamentary elections on October 5 2014, Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Sergei Stanishev said on June 27.
He made the announcement after consultations were held among his party, centre-right opposition GERB, and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, with Bulgaria Without Censorship – which has representatives in the European Parliament but not in the National Assembly – also in attendance. Far-right ultra-nationalists Ataka did not attend the consultations.
The date will be recommended to President Rossen Plevneliev, who as head of state decrees the dates of parliamentary elections.
The date agreed at the June 27 consultations, held in the National Assembly building, is midway within the timeframe agreed at a June 17 Consultative Council on National Security meeting, of September 28 to October 12.
Should the October 5 date be endorsed by President Plevneliev, as may reasonably be expected given that it is within the timeframe agreed at the consultative council meeting that he convened, the resignation of the cabinet should take place two months earlier than that date, at the latest.
Procedurally, however, the steps to be followed in the next stages require the resignation of the cabinet, and then the offering by the head of state of a mandate to govern to, first, the largest party in the National Assembly (GERB), then the second-largest (the BSP) and third, to a party of Plevneliev’s choice – at that stage, there would be only the MRF and Ataka to choose from.
Refusal by all three parties offered would result in the dissolution of the National Assembly and the appointment of a caretaker government.
The June 27 consultations were convened by the BSP as the current holder of the mandate to govern. It invited the other three parties with parliamentary groups in the current National Assembly.
BWC leader Nikolai Barekov was not invited, but talked his way into the meeting, telling reporters that a caretaker government should be accepted by all parties.
The other party that has seats in the European Parliament but not in the National Assembly, the Reformist Bloc, did not try to gatecrash the June 27 consultations.
Stanishev, in his announcement which was brief and about which no questions were taken from reporters, said that it had been assigned to Speaker of Parliament Mihail Mikov to propose to President Plevneliev the convening of new consultations on the priorities to be dealt with by the current parliament and government.
Bulgaria’s current government was formed in May 2013. In early elections last year, GERB, which had been in government since July 2009, won the largest share of votes but found itself in a National Assembly where it had no allies with which to form a government.
This led to the second-ranked BSP being offered a mandate to govern. A cabinet was formed with the support of the BSP and the MRF and with the tacit support of Volen Siderov’s Ataka.
When controversial figure Delyan Peevski was appointed as head of the State Agency for National Security on June 14 2013, mass public protests ensued, demanding the resignation of the government and early elections.
Peevski’s appointment was withdrawn, and the ruling axis ignored the protests, in spite of the additional factor of the more reliable polling agencies showing majority public support for the demands for the cabinet’s resignation.
A turning point came on May 25 2014, when the BSP was thrashed in European Parliament elections, with GERB coming in with a clear lead.
Initially, the BSP went into a form of denial about its defeat, but as the government’s crisis deepened with reverses such as EU action on South Stream, the MRF turned away from its partner to say that early elections were necessary.
Recent weeks have seen haggling, mainly through the media, about different election dates. A delayed process of consultations led to the June 27 talks that produced the agreement, albeit without the involvement of Parliament’s smallest party Ataka, on the holding of ahead-of-term national parliamentary elections in Bulgaria on October 5 2014.