Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov will nominate deputy PM Meglena Kouneva for the education portfolio on February 3, submitting the proposal for a vote in Parliament, the government’s media office said on February 1.
Kouneva is slated to replace the incumbent minister, Todor Tanev, who submitted his resignation earlier on February 1, the Cabinet’s statement said.
The announcement comes after several days of political melodrama in Bulgaria, triggered by Borissov’s request last week that Tanev resign, citing under-performance in education portfolio, against a background of changes in the school syllabus and programme that have caused considerable public consternation.
Tanev temporised, saying that he had every intention to resign but wanted to meet with Borissov first. After the two met on January 31, Borissov said that Tanev would be appointed special adviser to the prime minister.
The Cabinet’s statement said that Borissov “accepted the nomination by Reformist Bloc of Deputy Prime Minister Kouneva”, but several Bulgarian media reports pointed out that Kouneva’s nomination process was not yet finalised. News website Mediapool reported that a vote among Reformist Bloc’s constituent parties had been scheduled for February 2 and claimed that several MPs intended to miss the meeting to ensure that Kouneva’s nomination receives the required two-thirds majority, thus preventing a split inside the coalition.
Kouneva is leader of the Bulgaria for Citizens Movement, one of the constituents of the Reformist Bloc, and already a deputy prime minister in charge of European policies co-ordination and institutional affairs, ultimately in charge of foreign policy.
The bloc currently has a complicated relationship with Borissov and the government, after some of its MPs – most notably Radan Kanev, leader of the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria, another constituent of the coalition – withdrew their parliamentary support for the Cabinet over the judicial reforms amendments to the constitution, arguing that last-minute changes fell short of the deal agreed as part of a “historic compromise” last summer.
The two largest opposition parties, the socialists and the predominantly ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms, have already stated their intention to vote against Kouneva’s nomination for the education portfolio, the Bulgarian National Radio reported.