The only useful route to take is to withdraw our support from the government, nationalist Patriotic Front (PF) co-leader Krassimir Karakachanov said after a new Sofia regional governor was appointed from the People’s Party Freedom and Dignity – the same party that the PF objects to having a deputy defence minister in the cabinet.
However, Karakachanov said that no decision had yet been taken by the PF on withdrawing its support for Boiko Borissov’s centre-right coalition cabinet that took office on November 7.
On November 26, the cabinet appointed 24 new regional governors, among them Vesselin Penev, deputy leader of the People’s Party Freedom and Dignity – a constituent party of the Reformist Bloc, minority partner in government with Borissov’s GERB party – as governor of the Sofia region.
The Penev appointment came 10 days after the PF made public its objections to the appointment as deputy defence minister Orhan Ismailov, whom it calls an agent of a “pro-Turkish party, serving foreign interests”.
The People’s Party Freedom and Dignity is, in effect, a breakaway from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, a party led and supported in the main by Bulgarians of Turkish ethnicity. Ultra-nationalist parties in Bulgaria routinely hurl at such parties allegations of links to Turkish secret services and also accuse them of “neo-Ottomanism”, allegations that the parties reject.
PF co-leaders Valeri Simeonov and Karakachanov have sought to persuade Prime Minister Borissov to revoke Ismailov’s appointment. Talks at the cabinet building among the three resulted only in Borissov saying that he would not back down on the appointment.
On November 26, Simeonov and Karakachanov – who previously have varied from each others in their tones on the Ismailov issue, with Simeonov tending to be somewhat more emotional and bellicose – held talks with Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev.
Speaking after the talks, Karakachanov said that Nenchev had told them that he had personally proposed and appointed Ismailov as deputy defence minister.
Karakachanov said that he and Simeonov had outlined their objections to the appointment to Nenchev.
“We tend to think how to get out of the situation in order not to complicate things, but in this situation – I do not know, it is not us that are complicating things,” Karakachanov said.
The PF co-leader said that a decision on whether or not to withdraw the nationalist coalition’s support for the Borissov government would be taken next week, at a meeting of the PF coalition council.
Karakachanov said that the appointments of deputy ministers and regional governors had not been discussed with the PF.
The PF is not part of the coalition cabinet but agreed ahead of the formation of the Borissov cabinet to support it. “Good manners and respect” required that parties supporting the government should be kept informed, Karakachanov said.
Nenchev told reporters that he did not see the PF request for the withdrawal of Ismailov’s appointment as reasonable.
In Bulgaria’s 240-seat National Assembly, the country’s unicameral Parliament, Borissov’s GERB party has 84 seats and the Reformist Bloc 23. Apart from these parties that have a written agreement on the coalition cabinet, also involved in supporting the cabinet – with a deputy prime minister’s post in return – is the socialist breakaway ABC party, with 11 seats.
The PF has 19 seats, meaning that currently, the government should be able to muster 137 MPs’ votes. Without the PF, together the three – GERB, the Reformist Bloc and ABC – have 118 MPs.