Attending the April 19 first sitting of Bulgaria’s new National Assembly, President Roumen Radev said that he intended next week handing over a mandate to Boiko Borissov’s GERB party to form a government, and hoped a cabinet would be in place in early May.
In the March 26 early parliamentary elections, Borissov’s GERB won 95 of the 240 seats in the National Assembly. GERB is negotiating a governing coalition with the nationalist United Patriots, which has 27 MPs, just enough to get a government voted into office.
GERB and the United Patriots have announced a joint programme for governance and say that negotiations are to start on cabinet posts.
GERB’s Vladislav Goranov, finance minister in the previous Borissov government and who is expected to return to that portfolio, said on April 19 that no talks had been held yet on the composition of the cabinet.
According to Goranov, the United Patriots could get “three to four” ministerial posts, “if we follow the simple arithmetic compared to the number of MPs”.
Goranov’s comment was in contrast to repeated claims in the Bulgarian media in recent weeks that the nationalists would have five cabinet posts.
According to Goranov, “there were successful ministers in the previou cabinet, it would not be a surprise to see them again in their posts”.
The 2014/17 Borissov coalition government started out as an arrangement between GERB, the centre-right Reformist Bloc, socialist splinter ABC and the nationalist Patriotic Front, the last-mentioned made up of two of the three parties that now make up the United Patriots. In this arrangement, the PF lent support to the coalition government in Parliament without having cabinet seats.
Neither the Reformist Bloc nor ABC were returned to the new Parliament. Expectations currently are that GERB will retain several of its ministers from the previous cabinet, while handing the United Patriots some strategically-important portfolios, possibly including some previously held by the Reformist Bloc or ABC.
Speaking on arrival for the first sitting of the National Assembly, United Patriots co-leader Krassimir Karakachanov said that from April 20, talks would continue, along with work on a coalition agreement.
Karakachanov said that everything reported so far about allocations of cabinet portfolios was “divination”. “There is no agreement at the moment,” he said.
A stable government was needed, because the economy and the people themselves felt insecure, he said. “In Bulgaria, stability is essential,” he said.
The most recent government in Bulgaria to serve a full four-year term was the 2005/09 tripartite coalition.
The first Borissov government, in office from 2009, left office ahead of term after public protests in February 2013, mobilised around cost-of-living issues, culminated in a violent incident in Sofia, prompting Borissov to resign.
The 2013/14 Bulgarian Socialist Party-Movement for Rights and Freedoms ruling axis left office in the wake of prolonged daily widely-supported public protests demanding its resignation, and following the May 2014 thrashing of the BSP in Bulgaria’s European Parliament elections.
The second Borissov government, formed in November 2014, stepped down after the GERB candidate was defeated in scheduled November 2016 presidential elections by socialist-backed Radev.