Landmark week in Bulgarian politics follows May Day long weekend
The short four-day week in Bulgaria following the country’s May 1 Labour Day long weekend will be a landmark one in domestic politics, with a new government expected to be voted into office by Parliament on Thursday.
Over the long weekend, Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party – winner of the most votes in the March 26 parliamentary elections – and the nationalist United Patriots continued to hold negotiations on the sharing out of posts in their forthcoming coalition government.
This government will have four deputy prime ministers and 17 cabinet ministers. One of the deputy prime ministers will be named by the United Patriots.
The two sides already have agreed on a governance programme and on a coalition agreement. The distribution of seats in the cabinet, which is to be headed by Borissov – the third time he will take office as prime minister – will be added to the coalition government agreement as an annexe.
Unconfirmed reports said that the nationalists – a coalition of Krassimir Karakachanov’s VMRO, Valeri Simeonov’s National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria, and Volen Siderov’s Ataka – would get the ministries of defence, the economy, the environment and tourism.
Several of the GERB ministers from the second Borissov government, which was in office from November 2014 to January 2017, are expected to retain their portfolios.
When Borissov accepted the mandate to form a government from President Roumen Radev, the GERB leader said that he would be ready to announce the cabinet on May 3.
The vote in the National Assembly is expected to be held on May 4. Between them, GERB and the United Patriots have 122 out of 240 votes. Vesselin Mareshki’s Volya party is to add its 12 votes. The other two parliamentary groups, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, are expected to vote against.
The National Assembly held its first sitting on April 19, and the deadline for MPs to submit declarations of financial interests has passed, which are meant to be posted on the legislature’s website. On May 1, however, Parliament’s website was offline, with a notice saying that it was undergoing maintenance.
The National Assembly has sittings scheduled for May 3, 4 and 5, with Question Time scheduled for Friday. After it first sittings, Parliament voted – not without controversy – to scrap the “snap question time” slot that used to be held in the previous legislatures, and also voted – again to the ire of the opposition – to switch the televising of question time from the main Bulgarian National Television channel to the local-broadcaster BNT2.
For a timeline of key events in Bulgarian politics from 2007 to 2017, please click here.
(Archive photo: Ataka leader Siderov, NFSB leader Simeonov and GERB leader Borissov sign the governance programme on April 13)