Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov’s National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB) party is to announce on September 3 its decision whether to stay part of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s government.
Simeonov, a co-leader of governing coalition minority partner the United Patriots – a grouping of ultra-nationalist and far-right parties – made the announcement after his party held lengthy talks on September 1 and 2 on whether to stay in Borissov’s government.
The NFSB held the meeting after Simeonov sharply criticised Borissov’s decision to ask for the resignations of the ministers of interior, transport and regional development because of the August 25 Svoge bus crash, in which 17 people died and 21 were injured. Simeonov said on August 31, the day of the resignations, that the changes to the Cabinet had not been co-ordinated with the United Patriots.
Simeonov’s moves also come against the background of serious tensions within the United Patriots that have been continuing for several months. The co-leaders have sent signals repeatedly that the three constituent parties will go separately into Bulgaria’s May 26 2019 elections for the European Parliament and the autumn 2019 municipal government elections.
The reactions of the other two co-leaders of the United Patriots to the August 31 resignations differed from that of Simeonov. Ataka leader Volen Siderov supported the resignations. Krassimir Karakachanov, a deputy prime minister and leader of the VMRO party, said on September 2 that the three ministers made to take the fall were not guilty in relation to the Svoge crash. Karakachanov, however, noted that the three ministers were from the quota of Borissov’s GERB party and it was Borissov’s prerogative to change ministers from his party.
On September 2, after the NFSB meeting that went until midnight on Saturday and resumed for several hours on Sunday, Simeonov posted on Facebook a lengthy criticism of the conduct of Borissov and his party regarding the coalition government.
Simeonov said that Borissov had a unilateral management style. Decisions were not co-ordinated with the coalition partners and this was in contradiction with the coalition agreement, he said.
He described the several changes to the executive as “frenzied” and “illogical” and said that they hampered the implementation of the coalition government’s programme.
“The change of ministers, without any basis, often without basic human logic, creates a sense of insecurity among the other members of the Cabinet, as these layoffs are not the result of poor performance, but accidental incidents, marginal staged protests or unproven accusations,” Simeonov said.
Citing the Svoge case as an example, Simeonov said that Borissov aimed to quickly repel public dissatisfaction and protect his personal approval rating.
Simeonov cited numerous cases of dismissals of top officials in recent months, saying that the August 31 resignations “are the last shameful case of the series of resignations under external pressure and not for failure to deal with official duties”
“We want to remind our coalition partners that the slogan of our party, also adopted as a slogan of the coalition, is ‘Bulgaria above all’, not ‘Ratings above all’,” Simeonov said.
On September 1, Borissov said that a meeting of the government coalition council would be held on September 3 to discuss the issue of the resignations. The government information service said on September 2 that Borissov is on an official visit to Montenegro on September 2 and 3.