Bulgaria’s Reformist Bloc drama: DSB in opposition, Moskov remains in Cabinet
The Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria (DSB) party, part of the centre-right Reformist Bloc coalition, has decided to follow DSB leader Radan Kanev into opposition – but Health Minister Petar Moskov, a DSB member, will remain a Cabinet member.
This was among the latest developments to follow the Reformist Bloc’s Hristo Ivanov’s resignation as Justice Minister, which was followed by Kanev announcing that he was withdrawing his confidence in the Boiko Borissov government formed in November 2014 with Borissov’s GERB party as majority partner and the Reformist Bloc as a minority partner.
The Reformist Bloc as a whole is expected to decide on December 15 whether to remain part of the governing coalition, an issue on which the constituent parties of the bloc appear deeply divided.
The DSB decision to go into opposition was made at a meeting on December 12. The Reformist Bloc has 23 MPs in the 240-seat National Assembly, 10 of them from the DSB.
Announcing the decision late Saturday, Kanev said that the national leadership had supported his decision regarding the political credibility of the government and GERB’s refusal regarding the agreed version of the constitutional reforms intended towards judicial reform.
The DSB supported the ongoing reform policies of Moskov and in connection with his decision to remain in office, accepted his resignation as leader of the party, Kanev said.
Before the DSB leadership meeting, held in Pomorie on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, Kanev had said that he would resign if his party decided to remain as part of the government.
Kanev denied speculation that there was tension between Moskov and himself.
Atanas Atanassov, deputy chairman of the DSB, told Bulgarian National Radio on December 13, “we have supported the reforms in the health ministry by our minister Petar Moskov – from now on, he is a minister in the government of Boiko Borissov and nothing more”.
Atanassov wished Moskov success and said that he was not a minister from the DSB anymore because the party was now in opposition, and the opposition could not have someone in the Cabinet.
He underlined that the imperative of judicial reform had been key to the formation of the Reformist Bloc. The DSB would seek on Tuesday to persuade the others in the Reformist Bloc to stand with it, but there were signs that not all would do so, Atanassov said. “If they refuse, our ways will part,” he said.
Moskov said in a television interview on December 13 that any idea of his political separation from the DSB was not on the agenda and this was evident from the party’s decision to continue to support his policies in the field of health.
Moskov, in contrast to the view that he would now be a Boiko Borissov Cabinet member and nothing more, said, “I am and will be a minister from the Reformist Bloc and any other statement is speculation”.
He said that policies could be implemented only as part of the government, “and that is the purpose of the acquisition political power”. He saw no reason to go back to the situation where the DSB had wonderful ideas, but was not in power.
Moskov said that the constitutional changes approved by the National Assembly at second reading on December 9, and that led to Ivanov’s resignation, were a step backward, and he did not excuse the position of the GERB party.
Kanev said that since GERB was partners with every party in the current Parliament, “we are the only opposition”.
The deputy leader of the Union of Democratic Forces, another of the constituent parties of the Reformist Bloc, said that the DSB decision to go into opposition was hara-kiri.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov, of Meglena Kouneva’s Bulgaria for Citizens Movement, has become the latest Cabinet minister from the Reformist Bloc to say that he will not resign.
Education Minister Todor Tanev, Economy Minister Bozhidar Loukarski and Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev, all from the Reformist Bloc, earlier also indicated that they did not intend quitting the government.
(Photo, of Petar Moskov and Radan Kanev, via the Facebook page of the DSB)