Bulgaria’s coalition government talks: Nationalists want ministerial posts but have ‘no extraordinary claims’

Bulgaria’s nationalist United Patriots coalition wants to have seats in a future GERB cabinet but is making no “extraordinary claims” on portfolios, according to co-leader Krassimir Karakachanov.

His comments in a March 30 television interview followed unconfirmed reports the previous day that the United Patriots, who four days earlier were elected the third-largest group in the new National Assembly, wanted seven cabinet portfolios – economy, energy, defence, environment, tourism, culture and agriculture.

The same unconfirmed reports said that there were four ministries that Boiko Borissov’s GERB party was not prepared to give away to a coalition government partner – energy, environment, health and education.

Karakachanov, whose VMRO party will have 11 of the United Patriots’ 27 MPs, said that if the coalition reached an agreement with GERB on a governance programme, “yes, I think that it is reasonable and necessary for us to have our ministers”.

But he did not to say in which portfolios because this would be interpreted as making claims. “We do not have any extraordinary claims,” he said, saying for the coalition, what mattered was solving specific issues.

Krassimir Karakachanov, co-leader of the United Patriots.

For the “patriots”, these were increasing pensions, cutting conventional crime, economic development and solving Bulgaria’s demographic crisis.

Karakachanov agreed with the thesis of another United Patriots co-leader, Valeri Simeonov, that a successful formula for a stable cabinet would be a “grand coalition” of GERB, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the United Patriots, but he was skeptical that this was possible now.

Both Borissov and BSP leader Kornelia Ninova previously repeatedly have ruled out a coalition government involving their two parties jointly.

In the November 2014 coalition government deal, the Patriotic Front – the parliamentary coalition of Karakachanov’s and Simeonov’s parties – supported the second Borissov government in the National Assembly, without having seats in the cabinet. Volen Siderov’s Ataka, then one of Parliament’s two smallest parties, was in opposition.

This time around, the March 2017 elections have produced a National Assembly in which GERB and the United Patriots together will have 122 seats – just more than the half of the total of 240 MPs needed to vote a government into power.

Meanwhile, on March 29, Borissov – speaking at an European People’s Party meeting in Malta – said that GERB’s victory in the election was important for Europe and its external borders.

Borissov described the EU as the best place to live. He said that the GERB election victory was a victory for the EPP over the Party of European Socialists, led by former BSP leader and former prime minister Sergei Stanishev.

(Main photo: National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria leader Valeri Simeonov, VMRO leader Krassimir Karakachanov and Ataka leader Volen Siderov)

To see the full results of Bulgaria’s March 26 2017 National Assembly elections, with all ballots counted, please click here.

For a timeline of key political events in Bulgaria from 2007 to 2017, please click here.




Clive Leviev-Sawyer

Clive Leviev-Sawyer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe. He is the author of the book Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century (Riva Publishers, 2015), and co-author of the book Bulgarian Jews: Living History (The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria 'Shalom', 2018). He is also the author of Power: A Political Novel, available via amazon.com, and, on the lighter side, Whiskers And Other Short Tales of Cats (2021), also available via Amazon. He has translated books and numerous texts from Bulgarian into English.