Bulgarian coalition government talks: GERB, United Patriots reach agreement on pensions
Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party and the nationalist United Patriots have reached agreement on policy on pensions, in the course of negotiations on April 11 on forming a coalition government.
Pensions had been seen as one of the more difficult issues in the talks, because of the large increase in pensions that had been a key element of the United Patriots’ election platform. The nationalists promised to increase minimum pensions from a current 167 leva to 300 leva a month.
GERB, in its platform ahead of the March 26 parliamentary elections, devoted 82 words to the topic of pensions, in a 48-page document. Borissov’s party pledged a “sustainable pension system that ensures predictability and calm for people in the long term” and that would combine a “balanced” increase in pensions on one hand and a reduction of the deficit in the system on the other.
Borissov’s party said that improving the welfare of the elderly is done not only through increasing pensions but also in proposals to offer more social services for them, including in the home. GERB said that from July 1 2017, all pensions granted by the end of 2016 would increase by 2.4 per cent.
As has been customary throughout the GERB-United Patriots negotiations, the participants announced an agreement without saying what it was they had agreed on.
Following previous negotiations, the two sides said that they had agreements on policies on security, energy, sport and tourism.
GERB negotiator Tsvetan Tsvetanov said, after two hours of talks on the topic of pensions, that everyone had made compromises “guided by the interest ‘Bulgaria above all’.” This was Tsvetanov’s latest echo of that phrase, which was the March 2017 election campaign slogan of the United Patriots.
Tsvetanov said that negotiators were continuing to work on policies in other sectors, and now were busy on the topic of foreign policy.
He said that it was probable that a governance strategy would be ready by Thursday – the eve of the four-day Easter weekend.