Bulgarian nationalist minority party stops short of quitting governing coalition

Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov’s National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB) party will remain part of the country’s governing coalition for now, it emerged from a news conference on September 3.

Simeonov’s noon news conference was largely a damp squib, adding little to the party’s statement the previous day that the NFSB will vote against the resignations of three Cabinet ministers made to walk the plank over the Svoge bus crash disaster, while Simeonov reiterated his criticism of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s style of governance.

As he had said on September 2, Simeonov criticised Borissov for acting unilaterally, and for ordering dismissals from government posts only with an eye on approval ratings.

At 6pm on September 3, the government coalition council will meet, to discuss the August 31 resignations of the interior, transport and regional development ministers, their replacements and the future of the coalition itself.

Simeonov’s party, which is part of governing coalition minority partner the United Patriots, is to vote in Parliament against the resignations of the three ministers. This was decided at a special meeting of the NFSB executive this past weekend, which also discussed the question of remaining part of the governing coalition.

The NFSB’s formal opposition to the resignations is contrast to the other two parties in the United Patriots. Ataka leader Volen Siderov has backed the resignations. VMRO leader Krassimir Karakachanov has said that he does not see the three ministers as guilty in connection with the Svoge crash, but holds that it is Prime Minister and GERB leader Boiko Borissov’s prerogative to change ministers from GERB.

Simeonov sees the change as out of line with the coalition government agreement. Over the past four days, he repeatedly has expressed dissatisfaction that the United Patriots were not consulted about the ministerial resignations.

He told the September 3 news conference that his party wants a decisive change in the way the government is run and a speeding up of the implementation of the tasks set in the governance programme.

“If there is dialogue, there is a coalition, if there’s no dialogue, there’s no point,” Simeonov said.

Ataka leader Siderov, in a television interview on September 3, said that with or without Simeonov’s party, “we will move forward”.

“I’m not worried about the fate of the government,” Siderov said.

Before the Simeonov noon news conference, VMRO leader Karakachanov said that he did not expect that NFSB would quit the coalition.

Borissov’s government could theoretically continue in office without the support of Simeonov’s MPs, provided that it holds in place the support of Siderov’s and Karakachanov’s MPs and secures the support of the smallest party in the current Bulgarian Parliament, Vesselin Mareshki’s populist Volya party, which lately has something of a track record of voting with GERB.

In May 2019, Bulgaria will vote in European Parliament elections, and in autumn 2019, in municipal elections. In recent months, all three United Patriots leaders have spoken of the probability that their parties will stand separately in these elections.

Karakachanov, Siderov and Simeonov, the ‘United Patriots’.



Clive Leviev-Sawyer

Clive Leviev-Sawyer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe. He is the author of the book Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century (Riva Publishers, 2015), and co-author of the book Bulgarian Jews: Living History (The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria 'Shalom', 2018). He is also the author of Power: A Political Novel, available via amazon.com, and, on the lighter side, Whiskers And Other Short Tales of Cats (2021), also available via Amazon. He has translated books and numerous texts from Bulgarian into English.