Boiko Borissov, leader of Bulgaria’s centre-right GERB party, said on July 30 that his party would no longer attend Parliament – which has just a few days before it is dissolved for early elections – because GERB is offended by claims that it is operating in coalition with the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF).
GERB MPs absented themselves from the scheduled sitting of the National Assembly on July 30, preventing a quorum for proceedings. With far-right ultra-nationalists Ataka boycotting, Parliament is dependent on the formal presence of GERB for a quorum.
If GERB keeps to this boycott, it would sink prospects of the National Assembly voting the second reading of amendments to the National Health Insurance Fund budget and to the national Budget.
GERB supported the amendments to both budgets at first reading on July 29. The National Assembly is scheduled to hold a special sitting on August 4, two days before it is due to be dissolved, to vote on the second reading of the national Budget amendments.
Even though they were tabled by the cabinet put in place in May 2013 with the mandate held by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), the national Budget amendments are opposed by the BSP.
However, GERB – the largest party in the National Assembly – and the MRF – the now-estranged ruling axis partner of the BSP – both support the Budget amendments, which ensured not only a quorum for proceedings but also for first-reading approval of the amendments.
In the face of both GERB and the MRF supporting the amendments, the BSP has been pushing the line that the two parties are a new “governing coalition”.
Against a background of bad blood between the BSP and the MRF, with many BSP MPs blaming the MRF for forcing early elections, the BSP has been seeking to damn GERB by association with the MRF – apparently calculating that this would damage Borissov’s party at the polls given public enmity towards the MRF and its controversial MP, Delyan Peevski.
Speaking to reporters after GERB MPs absented themselves from the scheduled sitting on July 30, Borissov said that his party took exception to what he called unfounded claims of a coalition between his party and the MRF.
Asked whether his party would attend the second-reading vote on the Budget amendments, Borissov said, “no, this is enough now. From now on, the responsibility falls exclusively on the BSP. Let them get together – the BSP, the MRF and (Volen Siderov’s far-right) Ataka – just as they used to do in the past year and two months”.
“If they want to adopt any legislation, they are welcome to do so on their own. That’s their own business. We are leaving Parliament, today was our last working day.”
Borissov said that GERB wanted “very much” to help President Rossen Plevneliev, who has called for the adoption of the NHIF and Budget amendments, and to help the coming caretaker government, but had been put off by the comments by the BSP.
Parliament is due to be dissolved on August 6, with Bulgaria’s early national parliamentary elections scheduled for October 5.