Bulgaria awaits name of new education minister amid political melodrama
Protracted political negotiations among the Reformist Bloc were proceeding on January 29 on a nominee to become the new education minister after the previous day Prime Minister Boiko Borissov asked incumbent Todor Tanev to step down.
Tanev was appointed education minister in November 2014 when the centre-right coalition cabinet headed by Borissov came to power. An appointee from the quota of the Reformist Bloc coalition, Tanev has been rated consistently bottom in approval ratings by polling agency Alpha Research.
Borissov asked for Tanev’s resignation on January 28, citing under-performance in education portfolio, against a background of changes in the school syllabus and programme that have caused considerable public consternation.
Borissov has accused Tanev of failing to carry out sufficient public consultation before proceeding with such changes.
Tanev came under direct attack from the Patriotic Front, a nationalist minority partner in the governing coalition, offended by reports that the revised curriculum would include a changed portrayal of the centuries of Otttoman rule of Bulgaria.
Though Tanev has spoken extensively to the media, saying that Borissov’s request that he step down came as no surprise, and saying that if the Prime Minister wanted his resignation he would have it, but by the evening of January 29 it remained unconfirmed that he had actually submitted it.
He said that he wanted first to meet with Borissov, “just to shake his hand”. On the night his resignation was requested, Tanev went as planned to a concert of music by Brahms, and said that he would proceed with prior commitments for Friday.
Meanwhile, while Tanev listened to Brahms, there was less harmony among the Reformist Bloc, who spent at least three hours on Thursday night failing to decide whom to nominate.
Borissov indicated that he was leaving the appointment nomination up to them and he would not appoint a minister from his own GERB party.
Further talks were held on January 29, between Borissov and a group of Reformist Bloc leaders and representatives, and the bloc leadership gathered again in the afternoon – minus Radan Kanev, who has broken off his party’s support for the government though it remains part of the bloc’s parliamentary group.
Some of the participants in the bloc’s talks said that the “only candidate” to replace Tanev was to be Meglena Kouneva, leader of bloc constituent party the Bulgaria for Citizens Movement, and already Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European affairs and foreign policy.
Reports claimed that there had been a proposal to put forward Daniel Vulchev, a former education minister and a member of Kouneva’s party, while another name floated was that of Dimitar Tanev, who was the top official at the ministry at the time Vulchev was the minister.
The change to the Borissov Cabinet, whenever it comes, will be the third since he took office. Previously, there have been changes of interior minister and justice minister.
(Archive photo of Tanev: Ministry of Education)