Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted on May 18 to approve Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s nomination of Zornitsa Rusinova as Minister of Labour and Social Policy, replacing former deputy prime minister Ivailo Kalfin in that portfolio.
Kalfin resigned from the government on May 10 when the socialist minority ABC party withdrew from the government, disgruntled over what it described as a lack of dialogue within Borissov’s ruling coalition.
Borissov has not named a new deputy prime minister, meaning that there are now three, two from Borissov’s GERB party and one from the Reformist Bloc.
The appointment of Rusinova, until now deputy minister of labour and social policy, was approved by 135 votes in favour, 68 against, with eight abstentions.
The votes in favour came from MPs for GERB, the Reformist Bloc, the Patriotic Front, the Bulgarian Democratic Centre and ABC.
Rusinova’s nomination was presented in Parliament by Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev, in the absence of Borissov who is visiting Uzbekistan.
A motion tabled by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party to postpone the vote on the nomination until Borissov returned from Uzbekistan, was rejected.
The appointment of Rusinova is the fourth change to Borissov’s Cabinet since it came into office in November 2014.
Vesselin Vuchkov, the first interior minister in Borissov’s second Cabinet, resigned in March 2015. His portfolio was transferred to Deputy Prime Minister Roumyana Buchvarova.
Hristo Ivanov resigned as justice minister in December 2015 in protest against the form of constitutional amendments approved by Parliament in what was billed as a step toward judicial reform. He was replaced by Ekaterina Zaharieva. The resignation of Ivanov unleashed political turbulence that saw Radan Kanev’s Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria step out of line with the rest of the Reformist Bloc to go into opposition.
Todor Tanev resigned as education minister at Borissov’s request in January 2016. The portfolio went to Deputy Prime Minister Meglena Kouneva.
The vote on the new labour minister came on another dramatic day in Parliament, as the nationalist Patriotic Front was threatening to withdraw its support from Borissov’s government unless Parliament voted to overturn President Rossen Plevneliev’s veto on electoral law amendments that cut back the possibilities for Bulgarians abroad to vote in elections.