Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party, winner of the most votes in Bulgaria’s early parliamentary elections and the governing party-presumptive, has turned down the Movement for Rights and Freedoms’ offer of support for a single-party government.
In turn, the MRF has underlined that it would not support a coalition government in which nationalist parties would take part – a stance that comes against a background of widespread talk that GERB is to try to bring the far-right Patriotic Front into a future cabinet.
This emerged after a three-member GERB negotiating team headed by Tsetska Tsacheva met MRF counterparts in the Parliament building on October 14 in a continuing series of talks that Borissov’s party is holding with others that won seats in the 43rd National Assembly.
Roumyana Buchvarova of the GERB negotiating team said that the decision after the discussions was that the party would not continue discussions with the MRF about the future government but she underlined that the dialogue between the two parties would continue.
Buchvarova reiterated, as Borissov has repeated before and after the elections, that grassroots GERB structures do not want the party to be in coalition with the MRF.
She said that having MRF support for a GERB single-party cabinet would mean that the party would not achieve its goal of broad support among parties in the National Assembly and in turn the achievement of a stable government.
The MRF was a key element of the ruling axis that was in power from May 2013 to August 2014, with a cabinet appointed on the basis of a mandate handed to the Bulgarian Socialist Party that had run second in last year’s elections. The MRF supported that cabinet, stating at the outset that it wanted to keep GERB from returning to power.
At a news conference on October 13, MRF leader Lyutvi Mestan said that his party was prepared to support a single-party government.
Menda Stoyanova of the GERB negotiating team said that the October 14 talks had seen full accord between the two teams on 12 out of 18 of the policy priorities in GERB’s election platform for governance.
The 12 priorities on which there was agreement between GERB and the MRF were the Euro-Atlantic orientation of Bulgaria and implementation of international commitments, economic growth and stimulation of investment, infrastructure projects, winning back the confidence of European partners and securing the resumption of reimbursement on EU-funded projects.
Stoyanova said that to her surprise, there also had been agreement on security sector issues, including on work to achieve Bulgaria’s accession to the EU’s Schengen visa zone, the prevention of illegal immigration, while there was willingess to continue discussions on amendments to the laws governing the Interior Ministry, State Agency for National Security and Chief Directorate for Combating Organised Crime.
Of the remaining six policy areas, there was a match in principles but slight differences in details and there could be further discussions on these topics, Stoyanova said.
Areas on which there are differences include tax policy and the fate of Corporate Commercial Bank. Stoyanova said that the differences could be overcome through dialogue.
Yordan Tsonev of the MRF team said that the views of the two parties on the Corpbank situation differed, but not too much.
He repeated the MRF view that people should have access to the bank, that there should be transparency and international consultants should be brought in. “We insist on full transparency and disclosure of bank secrecy to protect the public and the public interest,” he said.
Tsonev said that the MRF wanted amendments to the Interior Ministry to be carried out in the light of the MRF’s negative experience with the two previous cabinets.
He said that the MRF and GERB differed on infrastructure projects, but on detail.
The MRF would support amendments to Budget 2014 provided that these were drafted on the basis of real data on the actual situation, Tsonev said.