Bulgaria’s centre-right coalition the Reformist Bloc decided on December 9 against attempting to form a government.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the bloc’s parliamentary group, ahead of the scheduled handing of an exploratory mandate to the bloc by President Rossen Plevneliev on December 12.
The Reformist Bloc’s decision underlines the inevitability of the appointment of a caretaker government and, in January 2017, the dissolution of the National Assembly and the calling of early parliamentary elections in the spring.
Offers of exploratory mandates by President Plevneliev to Boiko Borissov’s GERB party and to the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party have already been declined.
In consultations held by the Reformist Bloc in recent days, the only parliamentary group of significance to have offered support in a bid to form an elected government within the context of the current Parliament was the nationalist Patriotic Front.
GERB made it clear that it would not support an attempt and wanted the country to proceed to early elections.
Speaking after the December 9 meeting of the parliamentary group, the bloc’s Naiden Zelenogorski told journalists that if handed a mandate, the bloc would hand it back immediately.
“The parliamentary group of the Reformist Bloc has concluded that obviously in this Parliament there is no reformist majority that would open the way for the establishment of a new Cabinet,” Zelenogorski said.
“We thank the President for the appreciation of our role. But we are a Euro-Atlantic political force that many are counting on to maintain our orientation.”
He thanked the Patriotic Front for its possible support, “but the fact that yesterday GERB clearly stated that it would not support a Cabinet in the framework of this Parliament is sufficient fact that we responsibly have done everything possible.”
From this point, the next step was up to the President, Zelenogorski said.
Bulgaria’s Parliament has eight parliamentary groups. The constitution obliges the President to first offer exploratory mandates to the two largest, which he has done, and which – as noted – they have refused.
The President now has a free hand to choose any other group. On December 2, he said that he would not offer a mandate to the Patriotic Front, lest this impair the image of Bulgaria’s European development, and later indicated that the Reformist Bloc would be his choice.
Should plans proceed as scheduled, the mandate-offering ritual on December 12 would be over quickly, and Plevneliev could proceed to announcing a caretaker government. Current events were triggered by the November 2016 resignation of Borissov as prime minister, in response to the defeat of his party’s candidate in the presidential elections, at the hands of opposition socialist-backed Roumen Radev.