Bulgarian head of state President Roumen Radev has signed a decree that the country will hold early parliamentary elections on March 26 2017, his office said on January 24.
Radev decreed that the current National Assembly would be dissolved on January 27 and that Ognyan Gerdzhikov would serve as Prime Minister in a caretaker cabinet.
The announcement by the Presidency, two days after Radev was inaugurated, did not include the names of the caretaker cabinet ministers.
March 26 is the date that had been suggested by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, which backed the ticket on which Radev won Bulgaria’s November 2016 presidential elections.
At the Presidency, Radev received a succession of visitors throughout the day on January 24, fuelling speculation in the Bulgarian-language media that they would be in the caretaker cabinet, and about their portfolios.
According to a report by public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television, Kiril Ananiev – three times a deputy finance minister, in the governments of Ivan Kostov, Simeon Saxe-Coburg and Sergei Stanishev – would be caretaker finance minister. Ananiev was the first of the predicted cabinet ministers to be received at the Presidency on the morning of January 24.
Bulgaria’s ambassador in Berlin, Radi Naidenov, is seen as the likely foreign minister.
Constitutional law lecturer Ekaterina Mihailova is tipped for the justice ministry portfolio.
Others seen entering the Presidency building were former head of the National Health Insurance fund and former deputy social policy minister Gulub Donev, rumoured for that portfolio, Plamen Uzunov, former head of the police in Plovdiv when Tsvetlin Yonchev was interior minister and tipped for that portfolio, and actor Rashko Mladenov, seen as Radev’s choice of culture minister.
The naming of a caretaker cabinet and the decreeing of an election date following the dissolving of the current National Assembly are constitutionally-mandated sequels to the resignation of Boiko Borissov as Prime Minister in November 2016 after his party’s candidate was defeated by socialist-backed Radev in scheduled presidential elections.