Delyan Dobrev, a negotiator for Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party, said on April 12 that Bulgaria would have a new government after the Easter holidays, “in early May”.
GERB, which won the most votes in Bulgaria’s March 26 early parliamentary elections, is in negotiations with the nationalist United Patriots coalition, which ran third and has sufficient MPs to add the numbers required to vote a government into office.
Dobrev, a cabinet minister in the first of the two Borissov cabinets so far, said that the two negotiating sides had reached consensus on almost all topics in the governance programme and there was no issue that could derail the talks.
He said that currently, the governance programmes proposed, respectively, by GERB and the United Patriots were being reviewed so as to draw up a joint programme on which the two could unite in support of for the four-year term of a cabinet.
From an initial stage of negotiations, it has been clear that this cabinet would be headed by Borissov.
A number of those involved in the GERB-United Patriots negotiations have indicated that the joint governance programme could be made public on April 13, ahead of the four-day Easter holiday weekend.
Dobrev said that a revision of the Budget was not envisaged at this stage. “We stand behind our commitment to increase teachers’ salaries,” Dobrev told public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio, adding that minimum pensions would be increased on the basis of the possibilities within the budget.
He said that there would not be negotiations on a coalition government involving Vesselin Mareshki’s Volya party – which has 12 of 240 seats in the 44th National Assembly – and a GERB-Volya meeting the previous day had been part of a succession of meetings with other parties.
GERB and the United Patriots, in earlier negotiations, already reached agreement on issues that had been seen as potentially difficult – increasing minimum pensions, and the energy sector.
In an April 12 interview with local television station bTV, GERB negotiator Vladislav Goranov – who was finance minister in the second Borissov cabinet and is seen as likely to return to that post in the new administration – said that the minimum pension would reach 200 leva by the end of 2017.
This would happen in two stages, with an increase to 180 leva from July 1 and to 200 leva on October 1.
Goranov said that this would cost the state less than 100 million leva.
The United Patriots, in their election campaign, had made a key part of their platform an increase in the minimum pension to 300 leva.
Goranov said that meeting the demands of the United Patriots on pensions “100 per cent” would not be possible without sacrificing other policy issues.
As to the increase envisaged, he said: “Do not expect a possible finance minister to be the happiest man about this decision, but it is a possible solution”.
(Photo of Dobrev: gerb.bg)