Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov on December 16 nominated President Rossen Plevneliev’s chief of staff and twice-former caretaker cabinet minister Ekaterina Zaharieva as the country’s new Justice Minister, to succeed Hristo Ivanov who resigned a week earlier over the version of constitutional amendments towards judicial reform approved by the National Assembly.
The nomination of Zaharieva was confirmed at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Borissov as the National Assembly proceeded with the third and final reading of the constitutional amendments.
Borissov said that the nomination had the support of all involved in the government. He said that he had gathered leaders from his GERB party, the majority partner in the Cabinet, and the Reformist Bloc “as I have always said we should do when choosing ministers” and also had meetings with the Patriotic Front and ABC – two other political groups involved in the coalition government deal – and Zaharieva’s nomination had been supported by all of them.
A vote by the National Assembly to accept Ivanov’s resignation and approve the appointment of a new Justice Minister is on the agenda for the week’s plenary sittings that began on December 16.
Borissov said that he expected that the nomination would be approved by Parliament by the end of the week. He said that meetings would be held with all parliamentary groups.
Ivanov’s resignation on December 9 led to a melodrama in the Reformist Bloc, the centre-right coalition that is a minority partner in the Borissov Cabinet that took office in November 2014.
Radan Kanev, leader of the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria, led his party into opposition, but the party was the only constituent member of the bloc to do as Reformist Bloc leaders decided on December 15 to continue supporting the government. All current ministers from the bloc, with the obvious exception of Ivanov, will remain in the Cabinet – including the DSB’s Petar Moskov, the Health Minister.
DSB members have resigned from posts such as heads of parliamentary committees.
Zaharieva (40) attended the Bertolt Brecht Language School, Pazardzhik, specialising in German, and has a Master of Law degree from Plovdiv University Paisii Hilendarski, according to her CV on the website of the Presidency.
From 2001 to 2003, she practiced as a lawyer.
Zaharieva was appointed as a legal adviser at the Ministry of Environment and Water in 2003 and from 2007 was Director of Legal and Regulatory and Administrative Services.
In August 2009, she was appointed Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, responsible for legislation, planning and projects, state property, housing, concessions, regional development, commercial companies and state enterprises.
Zaharieva became President Rossen Plevneliev’s chief of staff in January 2012 a few days after he took office as head of state.
Amid Bulgaria’s political crises of 2013 and 2014, she twice was a member of a caretaker cabinet.
From March 13 to May 29 2013, she was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development and Public Works. From August 6 to November 7 2014, Zaharieva was Deputy Prime Minister for Economic policy, Minister of Regional Development and Minister of Investment Planning.
The change is the second to Borissov’s Cabinet since it came into office. In March 2015, Vesselin Vuchkov resigned as Interior Minister in a dispute about changing the chief secretary of the Interior Ministry and the head of the State Agency for National Security.