With Bulgaria’s current cabinet expected to resign by July 25, possibly on July 23, President Rossen Plevneliev has indicated the tasks that the caretaker cabinet will have to take up as it leads the country to early national parliamentary elections, naming energy sector reform as among priorities.
Speaking to reporters on July 21, Plevneliev declined to disclose the names of those who would serve in the caretaker cabinet, saying that the people who would be appointed were democrats and pro-Europeans, strong in the areas that need to be addressed.
Before the caretaker cabinet is appointed, the President and three of the four parties represented in the current National Assembly will have to go through the ritual required by the constitution, of the head of state offering three successive parties mandates to form a government, and when no government is formed, dissolving the National Assembly and naming an election date.
The dates for the dissolving of the 42nd National Assembly and the holding of elections are already known – August 6 and October 5, respectively.
Plevneliev said that he and his team were currently working hard on drafting the priorities for the caretaker cabinet. He told reporters that there were many crises, the resolution of which could not be delayed.
These priorities would be formally announced as Parliament is prorogued, but Plevneliev said that beside the main task of preparing for the early parliamentary elections, the interim cabinet would be dealing with a change of approach in the energy sector.
He said that Bulgaria needed to approach the European Commission, to raise the level of trust in Bulgaria, to unblock EU funds frozen in two operational programmes.
The caretaker cabinet would be able to negotiate with Brussels and even finalise the Partnership Agreement with the European Commission for 2014 to 2020.
Plevneliev said that the caretaker cabinet would be announced timeously and would cover in an objective manner the tasks that would have to be dealt with in the country.
He emphasised that the importance of the cabinet was not just as a collection of individuals, but standing on sound principles and priorities.
Bulgaria is heading to early parliamentary elections after the Bulgarian Socialist Party, which ran second in the May 2013 National Assembly elections but by default got the mandate to govern, was soundly thrashed by voters in Bulgaria’s May 25 2014 European Parliament elections.
As the crisis deepened after the May 2014 elections, ruling axis partner the Movement for Rights and Freedoms declared that the cabinet could not go on and early parliamentary elections had to be held. The BSP has given in to this, even while it struggles with the run-up to the election of a new leader on July 27 after Sergei Stanishev announced that he would step down.
The formation of a government after Bulgaria’s October elections would make it the fifth in two years.
The beginning of 2013 found Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB government in office, with the country heading for regular parliamentary elections that would have been held in July. But public protests mobilised by anti-GERB forces around cost-of-living issues, notably electricity prices, produced an incident of violence in Sofia which prompted Borissov to resign as prime minister.
Parties agreed on early elections, and a caretaker cabinet under diplomat Marin Raykov was appointed by Plevneliev to the stewardship of the country. In May, with the mandate given to the BSP, an administration was appointed with the support of the MRF and the tacit support of far-right ultra-nationalist party Ataka.
This government has lurched from one controversy to the next, with national outrage against the June 2013 abortive appointment of controversial figure Delyan Peevski as head of the State Agency for National Security prompting months of widely-supported public protests demanding the cabinet’s resignation and early elections.
The 2014 caretaker cabinet will be the fourth government since January 2013, while October 5 election results will determine what will be possible in the formation of a new government.