Election night in Bulgaria came to a close with a news conference by the centre-right Reformist Bloc, facing the same question that now faces the country – just how could a coalition government be put together?
With 25 per cent of votes counted, it appears that there will be eight parties in Bulgaria’s next Parliament.
However, GERB and the Reformist Bloc would not between them have sufficient seats to form a coalition government without support from elsewhere among parties that won seats.
If there was one point of consensus among those politicians who commented on the results to reporters, or gave formal news conferences, it was that forming a coalition government would be difficult.
Boiko Borissov, whose centre-right GERB party got by far the most votes, said so. So did Mihail Mikov, who conceded defeat after the Bulgarian Socialist Party he leads was relegated to a second place even worse than in its recent electoral showings. Movement for Rights and Freedoms leader Lyutvi Mestan was opaque on his party’s coalition policy, and in any case his party – ranked third in results so far – was named by Borissov as one with which GERB did not wish to serve in government.
Apart from the Reformist Bloc, which ran fourth in the vote, the remaining four parties that polls and Central Election Commission results indicate have made it into Parliament had little or nothing to say, making only doorstep comments and foregoing election night news conferences – as for that matter, had GERB, although Borissov had plenty to say in impromput comments to reporters.
Radan Kanev, leader of the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria, one of the constituent parties of the Reformist Bloc, said that an “ideal coalition” would not be possible in the new Parliament and this showed the public’s crisis of confidence.
He said that the bloc had proposed that the next National Assembly should have a short term in office and a coalition government united around urgent reforms.
A Parliament with a term of only two years was inevitable, Kanev said.
Meglena Kouneva, leader of Bulgaria for Citizens, also a Reformist Bloc constituent party, told the same news conference that the bloc had principles and priorities for reforms that it had agreed on “and are looking forward to hearing from all political forces, including GERB, think, including on judicial reform. I have not heard anything”.
She congratulated GERB for running first in the election, but said that if for a second time GERB failed to form a government, something was wrong.
This was an apparent reference to the May 2013 elections, which also saw GERB get the most votes (but not by the same sweeping lead as on October 5 2014) but found itself in a parliament where it had no allies, and conceded the mandate to govern to the second-ranked BSP. That led to the failed cabinet that stepped down in July 2014.
Kanev added that it was important to realise that the October 5 election result brought a very great responsibility.
“We cannot deceive the hopes and expectations of our constituents. We will not participate in a government supported by and dependent on the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and it is completely impossible to retreat from that,” Kanev said.
Bozhidar Lukarski, leader of the Union of Democratic Forces, told the news conference, “let’s see what GERB will propose as personnel appointments. The Patriotic Front said that it excludes only the possibility of negotiating with the MRF and the Reformist Bloc. We will review the proposals, which at this stage can be made only by the mandate-holder GERB. They are the ones to propose to form a coalition”.
Lukarski said that the good news was that compared to the May 2014 European Parliament elections in Bulgaria, the Reformist Bloc had doubled its score, including extending its support to smaller places outside Sofia and the major cities.
Facing questions from reporters, Reformist Bloc leaders also sought to deny disunity in the coalition, particularly on the issue of a coalition with GERB.