After a number of senior political figures linked to Bulgaria’s ruling axis indicated that they expected that the government would resign on July 23, Bulgarian Socialist Party parliamentary group head Atanas Merdzhanov said that it was possible that the cabinet would resign after its scheduled Wednesday meeting.
Maya Manolova of the BSP, one of several candidates standing for the party leadership in a vote on July 27, said that the cabinet could resign on July 23 or 24 so that the resignation could be put to Parliament for approval by the end of week. Manolova added that the cabinet could resign “at any moment”.
In the latest farcical moment of political melodrama as Bulgaria awaits the resignation of the cabinet as a vital step towards the October 5 early parliamentary elections, a planned meeting to hold talks among parliamentary parties on the agenda for the days remaining to the National Assembly was called off because of a boycott by centre-right opposition GERB, Parliament’s largest party.
Even before the meeting, it seemed improbable that there could be consensus among Bulgaria’s warring political parties, given the deep divisions on proposed legislation, including proposals to amend the national Budget for 2014.
Merdzhanov said that the BSP and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms would be in Parliament in July 23 but whether there would be a quorum for proceedings depended on the attendance of GERB.
Far-right ultra-nationalists Ataka, the smallest party in the National Assembly, is boycotting, while GERB has said it would attend Parliament only to vote on the resignation of the cabinet.
Bulgarian-language media reports said that the cabinet would announce its resignation on July 23 but this would be put to a formal vote in the National Assembly only on July 24. Government sources said that they were hoping that the resignation would be voted on without prior debate, reports said.
Manolova became the latest BSP figure to reject claims that the cabinet’s resignation could be postponed. “No one, not Parliament nor the government, has an interest in creating additional tension in society. The resignation is final and it will happen literally at any moment,” she said.
A caretaker cabinet will be announced on August 5, in a special address to the nation by head of state President Rossen Plevneliev, and the National Assembly will be dissolved on August 6.
The early elections are a result of the thorough defeat of the BSP in Bulgaria’s May European Parliament elections. This defeat came after months of mass public protests demanding the resignation of the government, widely seen as discredited from its first steps, especially the abortive appointment of controversial figure Delyan Peevski as head of the State Agency for National Security.
On social network Facebook, what could be the final set of protests demanding the resignation of the cabinet were being organised for July 22 and 23, while a further protest was added – against a possible parting shot by the departing cabinet, the nomination of foreign minister Kristian Vigenin as Bulgaria’s candidate European Commissioner.
Organisers said that nominating Vigenin would be “absurd”, and offered their 10 reasons, including that the nomination should not be decided by an outgoing cabinet and a ruling party that did not know who its leader was, and adding, among other motivations, that during Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit, the guests had spoken Russian with no translation into Bulgarian provided.
* On July 23, it emerged after the scheduled cabinet meeting that the resignation of the cabinet had been discussed, but there was no immediate disclosure of when the resignation would be submitted.
Agriculture Minister Dimitar Grekov confirmed that the resignation had been discussed, but said that it was Oresharski’s prerogative to decide the timing and announce it.
Grekov said that the cabinet had not discussed the nomination of Bulgaria’s European Commissioner.
Other ministers and some BSP figures indicated that the resignation would be submitted on July 24, and possibly voted on in the National Assembly the same day.
(Photo of Plamen Oresharski, occupant of the prime minister’s chair in the BSP cabinet since May 2013: government.bg. Archive photo of a June 2013 anti-government protest: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)