A December 15 summit of leaders of the parties making up the centre-right Reformist Bloc decided that the bloc will remain part of Prime Minister and GERB party leader Boiko Borissov’s coalition cabinet, while Radan Kanev’s Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria – a bloc member party – will remain in opposition.
The meeting of Reformist Bloc leaders was held as a result of the drama within the bloc over its position in relation to the Borissov government following Hristo Ivanov’s December 9 resignation as Justice Minister over the version of constitutional amendments on judicial reform approved by the National Assembly.
At the December 15 meeting, Kanev proposed that the Reformist Bloc seek a new coalition agreement with GERB that would have required asking Borissov to resign as Prime Minister and then, having as leader of the largest party received a mandate to form a government, constitute a new cabinet on the basis of a new deal with the bloc. Kanev’s proposal was rejected.
The Reformist Bloc said after the meeting that “already today” it was starting talks with GERB to review and assess the achievements of the government and on an update of the coalition agreement, with a clear timetable for its implementation.
Kanev’s DSB, which has 10 of the Reformist Bloc’s 23 MPs, will remain part of the Reformist Bloc but will discuss its position at a party congress in March 2016. But before then, Kanev told reporters, “a lot of water will flow under the bridge”.
A Reformist Bloc statement after the meeting of leaders, read out by bloc co-leader Naiden Zelenogorski, said that the bloc found the delay of judicial reform and anti-corruption legislation disturbing.
The Reformist Bloc also reaffirmed its support for the five cabinet ministers it has in the coalition government. The meeting was attended by the five cabinet ministers, although Todor Tanev, Education Minister, arrived an hour late.
Reporters at the scene of the talks, held at the Sofia headquarters of the Union of Democratic Forces, said that Kanev was first to leave the meeting, but Petar Moskov – a DSB member who has said he would remain in the cabinet – remained.
Borissov said earlier that he would await the decision of the Reformist Bloc before discussing with it the nomination of a new Justice Minister.
Meglena Kouneva, Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Bulgaria for Citizens Movement, a bloc constituent party, said on December 14 that she did not want and would not accept an offer of the justice portfolio.
On December 15, GERB parliamentary group leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov said that the party was in talks with three candidates for justice minister. Two were serving members of the judiciary, he told reporters.
“We are looking for a candidate who can get the support of almost all parliamentary groups, because you know that judicial reforms should be conducted in a serious dialogue with both the Ministry of Justice and by all parliamentary groups,” Tsvetanov said.
He said that a successor to Ivanov would most likely be voted on this week.
(Archive photo: Reformist Bloc leaders with Boiko Borissov at the time of the agreement on the November 2014 coalition government)