Deal on coalition government for Bulgaria achieved, negotiators say

Bulgaria is set for a coalition government made up of Boiko Borissov’s GERB and the Reformist Bloc, with the support of at least one other party, negotiators said after four-party talks lasting more than seven hours on November 5.

Those supporting the coalition cabinet headed by GERB leader Boiko Borissov hope that it will be voted into office by Parliament on November 7.

The urgent marathon talks involving GERB, the Reformist Bloc, nationalist Patriotic Front (PF) and socialist breakaway minority party ABC followed indications that the PF and ABC would not sign on to supporting a GERB-Reformist Bloc coalition cabinet, aggrieved that policies important to them had not been included in governance plans.

The talks took place immediately after GERB, winner of the largest share of seats in Bulgaria’s early parliamentary elections on October 5, was formally handed a mandate to put together a government.

Speaking after talks ended on the night of November 5, GERB negotiator Tomislav Donchev – tipped to be one of three deputy prime ministers in the proposed government – said that the coalition cabinet would be made up of GERB and the Reformist Bloc, while broader parliamentary support was being discussed.

“We have one more partner. If we will be able to have another one, we will know tomorrow,” according to Donchev, who told reporters that a “dose of agreement” had been reached.

He acknowledged that compromises had been made in the course of the negotiations on November 5.

The PF and ABC, in spite of earlier indications that they could lend support to the cabinet while not necessarily having seats in it, had backed away on November 4 because they said that their respective policy priorities were not reflected in the proposed programme for the coalition government.

Reformist Bloc negotiator Radan Kanev, also currently the bloc’s parliamentary group co-leader, said that there was “sufficient agreement” to be able to form a government.

For Parliament to vote the cabinet into office, a simple majority from among Bulgaria’s 240-member National Assembly is required.

PF co-leader Valeri Simeonov said that Bulgaria’s interests had been placed above party interests.

Borissov had said on November 5, after receiving the mandate to try to form a government, that he would return on November 6 to the Presidency either to submit the proposed cabinet or to acknowledge failure – the latter scenario probably inevitably putting the country back on the path to yet another early election.

Donchev said that after “extremely tough negotiations, discussions and detailed analysis” an agreement had been reached.

“Tomorrow morning, when the official text of the declaration is published, it has the potential to be supported by three, maybe four political forces.” This would mean sufficient support in Parliament to enable a stable government, Donchev said.

It is understood that the reference to the fourth party means ABC, which was to discuss overnight its stance on supporting the proposed government.

Donchev said that the text of the government programme would be made public after final editing overnight.

Kanev said that there was sufficient agreement to be able to form a government, and for this government to have a programme and a majority for it to be implemented.

Although the constitution allows a seven-day deadline after receiving the mandate to attempt to form a government, Borissov on November 5 made it clear that he wanted to have clarity by November 6 on whether he would be able to present a government.

The talks in the course of the afternoon and evening went through various formats, first a trilateral meeting of representatives of GERB, the Reformist Bloc and the PF, then between GERB and ABC, and finally the four groups together.

On Facebook, ahead of the four-way talks, Borissov posted that there had been “huge compromises” but these were made “knowing that what we have to do is necessary to get Bulgaria out of the crisis”.

He did not spell out what compromises had been made – and nor was it immediately clear how the demands of the PF and ABC had been addressed in the November 5 negotations.

“We have tried to find the necessary, reasonable compromise led by responsibility and commitment to have a workable design,” Donchev said.

Talks initiated by GERB on forming a government have been continuing since soon after the results of the October 5 elections were released, showing GERB to be the largest of eight parties in the new Parliament, with 84 out of 240 seats.

GERB held first-round talks with seven out of eight parties, with Ataka declining to participate, and then held second-round talks with a shortlist, in turn spawning further negotiations with the Reformist Bloc, PF and ABC.

Borissov has said that he does not want support from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, which is closely associated with the former ruling axis, while the second-ranked Bulgarian Socialist Party and Ataka, the ultra-nationalist party that is one of the two smallest in Parliament, intend to oppose the new government.

(Photo of, from left, the PF’s Valeri Simeonov, GERB’s Tomislav Donchev and the Reformist Bloc’s Radan Kanev:



The Sofia Globe staff

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