The national council of minority socialist party ABC said on May 10 2016 that it was recommending that the party quit Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s coalition government.
A vote on the recommendation, made unanimously by the national council because of disagreement with the polices of Borissov’s GERB party and a lack of dialogue in the coalition, will be taken at ABC’s national conference on May 15.
Led by former Bulgarian Socialist Party leader and former president Georgi Purvanov – not himself an MP, ABC is one of the two smallest parties in the National Assembly, with 11 seats. ABC is represented in the Cabinet by Ivailo Kalfin, deputy prime minister in charge of labour and social policy.
When Borissov’s current coalition government was formed in November 2014, it had the support of GERB with 83 MPs, the centre-right Reformist Bloc coalition with 23, the nationalist Patriotic Front with 18 and ABC’s 11.
ABC deputy leader Roumen Petkov and party co-founder Emil Kalo told reporters on May 10 that should the national conference accept their recommendation, Kalfin would leave the Cabinet and ABC members would leave all other positions of power.
The ABC announcement came as Borissov met representatives of his GERB party, the Reformist Bloc and the Patriotic Front to come up with a solution to the election law amendments issue, following President Rossen Plevneliev’s veto of provisions on voting abroad.
The ABC’s Petkov said that the party had not been invited to the meeting. This was evidence of an arrogant tone on the part of Borissov’s party, he said.
The ruling coalition is facing not just the ABC threat of withdrawal, but also a major problem in the form of the Patriotic Front, which pushed several of the controversial amendments to the election law – including the one limiting voting rights of Bulgarians abroad, now vetoed by Plevneliev.
The first hours of talks on the amendments, involving Borissov, senior GERB members National Assembly Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva and deputy prime minister Roumyana Buchvarova and the leaderships of the parliamentary groups of GERB, the Reformist Bloc and the Patriotic Front ended after more than two hours with no result.
While GERB has signalled that it is open to amending the amendments to address Plevneliev’s concerns about their lack of constitutionality, the Patriotic Front has been insisting that the National Assembly should use its constitutional power to override the President’s limited power of veto.
But Patriotic Front parliamentary group leader Valeri Simeonov also said that if they heard good suggestions from both GERB and the Reformist Bloc, they would be willing to participate in a new legislative initiative.
Since late 2015, the Reformist Bloc has been a house divided, most of its MPs continuing to support the government while Radan Kanev led bloc constituent party the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria into opposition following the resignation of Hristo Ivanov as justice minister in protest against the form of constitutional amendments on judicial reform.