Bulgarian nationalist leader Simeonov: ‘News on government by the end of the week’

Bulgarian nationalist United Patriots co-leader Valeri Simeonov said on April 9 that he expects that there would be news about the formation of a government by the end of the week.

The United Patriots, the third-largest party in the new National Assembly with 27 MPs, is in the midst of talks with the largest party, Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB, on the formation of a coalition government that would have the support of 122 out of 240 MPs.

The talks began soon after the March 27 elections and those involved expect to produce an agreement before the first sitting of the new Parliament on April 19.

The beginning on April 10 is a short one because of the four-day Easter holiday weekend beginning on April 14.

All of those involved are insisting publicly that the handing out of ministerial portfolios has not yet been discussed, but at this stage, GERB and the United Patriots are seeking to come up with an agreed governance programme.

GERB appears to have given up on the United Patriots support for its policy platform point about introducing a majoritarian system for parliamentary elections.

The nationalists are insisting on limiting the possibilities for Bulgarian passport-holders in Turkey to vote. They also want the termination of contracts with two US-owned power generation plants.

Dimitar Glavchev of GERB, who has been involved in negotiations and who is seen as a likely candidate to be the Speaker of the 44th National Assembly, said that talks were going well. He described the United Patriots as GERB’s foremost likely coalition government partner.

GERB deputy leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov, also involved in the negotiations, said on April 9 that his party was “putting the interest of Bulgaria above all” (a phrase not dissimilar to the election slogan of the nationalists, “Bulgaria above all”).

“We want to prove that united, we can achieve more,” Tsvetanov said.

He said that for GERB, it was extremely important to continue Bulgaria’s European path of development.

“I am confident that we will achieve consensus with the United Patriots and design a workable government – that will provide security for all Bulgarian citizens and stability to the country,” Tsvetanov said.

However, on April 7, GERB negotiator Tomislav Donchev said in an evening television interview that negotiations on the future government were not easy, “the price in the literal and figurative sense becomes excessively high”.

Donchev, deputy prime minister in charge of the use of EU funds in the two Borissov cabinets so far, and at one point at the close of the first Borissov government expected to become finance minister, described the United Patriots’ demand for minimum pensions to become 300 leva a month as “very difficult”.

He said that in the past week, he had gone into calculations about what was possible. “I personally want (pensions) to be not 300, but 500 leva. The question is, however, what the pension system can bear. I am talking with the colleagues, I am an optimist, that we will find a solution,” Donchev said.

“Democracy is not a dictatorship of the majority, the main task is how to find a policy that reflects public sentiment. Reading the results, we are the undeniable winners. But what do we do after a large part of society thinks that Europe is not the right place, the answers to such questions are not easy,” he said.




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.