Bulgaria’s centre-right Reformist Bloc coalition is starting consultations with a selection of other parliamentary groups on possibly trying to put together a new government, against a background of President Plevneliev having indicated that he would hand them an exploratory mandate to do so.
Following Boiko Borissov’s resignation as Prime Minister, his GERB party already has exercised first refusal of a mandate to form a new government.
Plevneliev, as directed by the constitution, will on December 7 offer a mandate to Parliament’s second-largest group, the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party. That party repeatedly has said that it will refuse it.
In a December 2 interview with public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television, Plevneliev indicated that it was most likely that he would offer the third and final exploratory mandate to the Reformist Bloc – ruling out giving it to the nationalist Patriotic Front, a move that he rejected on the grounds that it would call into question the European development of Bulgaria.
Although it seems improbable that the Reformist Bloc could succeed, it has decided on embarking at least on consultations about whether an attempt could be viable.
On December 5, Meglena Kouneva, leader of one of the bloc’s constituent parties, said that if the President offered an exploratory mandate, it would be wrong to reject it.
Petar Moskov, who remained in Borissov’s Cabinet in spite of bloc member the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria party withdrawing its support for the government, said that the bloc would accept the mandate from Plevneliev only if it emerged from the consultations that it would be possible to form a government on the basis of the current Parliament.
The Reformist Bloc’s first consultations were to be with Borissov’s GERB, and then in coming days with other parliamentary groups, excluding the BSP, Movement for Rights and Freedoms and Lyutvi Mestan’s DOST party.
“The aim of the consultations is to find out whether it is possible within this Parliament to form a stable majority that ensures the continuation and deepening of reforms,” Moskov said. The priorities in these reforms were the fight against corruption, judicial reform, education, health care, defence and security and economic stability.
Moskov said that the bloc wanted to prevent the BSP and MRF returning to power.
The Patriotic Front has said that it would support an initiative by the Reformist Bloc to try to form a government only if the bloc accepted the front’s priorities, including increasing pensions, expulsion from Bulgaria of all migrants who are not refugees, making all refugee centres gated and moving them away from cities and towns, and shutting down the two US-owned thermal power plants.
Bulgarian media reports have said that there are internal divisions in the bloc on trying to form a government, with the only genuine enthusiasm coming from the Union of Democratic Forces.
In the current National Assembly, the bloc has 22 MPs, but some of them are in opposition and want early elections, not an attempt to form a government to stave off this scenario.
Plevneliev will announce a date for offering a third exploratory mandate only after the formality of his meeting on December 7 with the BSP.
Should the third and final phase of the offering of mandates fail, the constitution obliges Plevneliev to proceed to appointing a caretaker cabinet.
When Roumen Radev takes office as head of state on January 22, he would be entitled to dissolve Parliament and name a date for parliamentary elections.