The resignation of Valeri Simeonov as deputy prime minister does not break the structure of Bulgaria’s ruling coalition, but even strengthens it, according to Tsvetan Tsvetanov, parliamentary leader of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party.
Simeonov, a co-leader of government minority partner the United Patriots, resigned on November 16, a month to the day after causing national controversy by describing protesting mothers with children with disabilities “shrill women” with “supposedly ill children”. Under pressure from coalition partners, Simeonov apologised on October 24. Protests by the mothers demanding his resignation have been continuing.
Tsvetanov said on November 17 that Simeonov’s decision to resign would calm the situation and restore a more normal working environment.
There was no risk to the ruling coalition because it had been Simeonov’s own decision to resign, with no pressure from GERB.
Asked who would succeed Simeonov in the Cabinet, Tsvetanov said that Simeonov’s National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria party should first nominate a candidate deputy prime minister, to be discussed within the United Patriots.
Once that coalition agreed on a name, it would be discussed with GERB, Tsvetanov said.
Deputy Prime Minister and senior GERB member Tomislav Donchev said in a radio interview on November 17 that the conditions in Parliament that would result in early elections were absent.
“The government is working,” Donchev said. He said that perhaps there would be a new nomination by the United Patriots of a candidate to succeed Simeonov in government, probably as deputy prime minister.
On November 17, Deputy Prime Minister Krassimir Karakachanov, a United Patriots co-leader, said that it was up to Simeonov’s party to come up with a nominee. The third co-leader, Volen Siderov of Ataka – frequently at loggerheads with Simeonov and who was not informed in advance that Simeonov was quitting the government – called into question whether the United Patriots should nominate anyone, suggesting that the government go on with three, not four, deputy prime ministers.
(Photo of Tsvetanov: gerb.bg)