Bulgaria’s Patriotic Front and Reformist Bloc in deal to continue support for government
Bulgaria’s nationalist Patriotic Front (PF) will not proceed with its threats to withdraw its support for Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s centre-right coalition cabinet after reaching a deal on issues key to the nationalist coalition with the Reformist Bloc.
The PF, due to hold a congress on December 6, had raised a number of issues over which it said it would withdraw its support for the Borissov cabinet, with demands including the withdrawal as Deputy Defence Minister of Orhan Ismailov, Sofia Regional Governor Vesselin Penev, and the removal from national public broadcaster airwaves of daily news bulletins in Turkish.
Ismailov and Penev were appointed from the quota of the Reformist Bloc, essentially from bloc constituent party the People’s Party Freedom and Dignity, which the PF opposes as a supposedly “pro-Turkish party”.
PF co-leader Valeri Simeonov said on December 5 that talks with the Reformist Bloc had produced agreement that the PF would come up with representatives to be appointed to posts similar to those held by Ismailov and Penev.
Simeonov said that the PF’s electoral platform was clearly against the appointment of representatives of “ethnic parties” in senior government posts.
He said that in the past week, the PF had “many discussions” with other parties that had formally declared their support for the government and its programme, “and came to the conclusion that the appointments were not made deliberately but were based on the qualities of the candidates put forward”.
Simeonov said that the PF nominees for the posts would be “specialists” and not political nominees.
The names of the two nominees are to be announced after the PF holds consultations with Borissov’s GERB party.
The Reformist Bloc also has agreed to PF demands for the daily news in Turkish, an afternoon news bulletin of 10 minutes that for several years has been a bugbear for ultra-nationalist politicians in Bulgaria, to be removed from the main Bulgarian National Television channel to BNT’s regional news station.
The deal, however, reportedly sparked further internal problems within the Reformist Bloc, with reports saying that People’s Party Freedom and Dignity leader Korman Ismailov had told his party colleagues that if the Turkish-language news was shifted from the national to the regional airwaves, his party would consider quitting the coalition.
Mediapool reported Korman Ismailov as saying that the decision to agree to support the PF requests for appointments and to shift Turkish-language news to BNT’s regional channel had been taken at a meeting of the parliamentary group of the Reformist Bloc attended by only 11 out of the bloc’s 23 MPs.
Ismailov reportedly said, however, that his party could accept the news in Turkish being moved to the regional channel if it was extended and bulletins in other mother tongues added, such as that of Roma people.