Deputy Prime Minister Meglena Kouneva will hold the education portfolio in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, after Parliament endorsed her nomination by 106 votes in favour, with 66 against and 31 abstentions.
The votes for Kouneva’s appointment came from Borissov’s party GERB, the senior partner in the ruling coalition, as well as the Reformist Bloc MPs present in the House. Opposition Bulgarian Democratic Centre also voted mostly in favour of Kouneva’s appointment, while MPs for two junior partners in the ruling coalition – socialist splinter ABC and nationalist Patriotic Front – mostly abstained.
During the debate that preceded the vote, the main two opposition parties – the socialists and the predominantly ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms – focused their criticism more on the perceived failures of the Borissov government, rather than Kouneva personally.
Kouneva is the deputy prime minister in charge of European policies co-ordination and institutional affairs, ultimately in charge of foreign policy. Speaking to reporters after the confirmation vote, she said that she had not planned to target the education portfolio, but had attempted to become familiar with the issues in the education sector in recent days.
She will replace Todor Tanev, who submitted his resignation on February 1, after several days of political melodrama triggered by Prime Minister Boiko 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 was the third minister to leave Borissov’s Cabinet, which took office in November 2014, after former interior minister Vesselin Vuchkov, who stepped down in March 2015, and former justice minister Hristo Ivanov, who resigned in November 2015.
(Meglena Kouneva in Parliament after the confirmation vote passed. Screenshot from Bulgarian National Television)