With just a weekend before Bulgaria’s newly-elected National Assembly holds its first formal sitting, Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB – holder of the largest number of seats – appears set to form a minority government with support of varying degrees of formality from most other parties in Parliament.
By October 24, five days after Borissov said that GERB had decided on second-round talks with four parties, meetings had been held with three: the Reformist Bloc, Patriotic Front and ABC.
But while the fourth, the Bulgarian Socialist Party, had indicated it was willing to meet GERB for further talks, neither the place, time nor the format had been specified, BSP leader Mihail Mikov said on the afternoon of October 24.
Mikov, who said on election night, as results made it clear that the BSP had seen one of its worst-ever electoral performances, that voters had sent the party into opposition, told reporters on October 24 that the conditions were not right for a grand coalition.
While the set-up currently seen as likely to emerge is some sort of deal involving GERB, the centre-right Reformist Bloc and nationalist coalition the Patriotic Front, some politicians have been urging a left-right grand coalition.
Minority socialist breakaway ABC, after second-round talks with GERB, said that while it could be willing to serve in a GERB government if it was a grand coalition also involving the BSP, it would not support a centre-right government. However, ABC also said that it could support individual policies of a Borissov government.
Meanwhile, a factor suggesting that GERB-BSP second-round talks could be held off at least for two days is that the BSP is due to hold a national council meeting on October 26.
It is expected that there will be discussions on relations with a possible GERB government, although for now it hardly seems likely that there could be a change of position about remaining in opposition. Beyond perhaps symbolically not standing in the way of a GERB government being voted in, the BSP has its own internal troubles to deal with – and that would also be part of Sunday’s agenda.
Talks in the past five days saw convergence to various degrees, with GERB and the Patriotic Front moving closer to signing a governance programme while engagements with the Reformist Bloc were continuing.
The model of government that GERB has sought to put in place has changed back and forth since the elections, from a minority government to a coalition government and back again, the latter a reality arising from the talks. The possibility of further changes amid the wrangling of coming days should not be written off.