Bulgaria’s Parliament elects Nikolova to replace Simeonov as deputy PM

After four hours of stormy exchanges, Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted on November 21 to approve the resignation of United Patriots co-leader Valeri Simeonov as deputy prime minister and his replacement by Mariana Nikolova, up to now his chief of staff.

Of those present of Bulgaria’s 240 MPs, the vote was 116 in favour and 62 against.

There were a number notable absences, including Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, the MPs from Volen Siderov’s Ataka party – a part of the United Patriots coalition – and Simeonov himself, who reportedly watched proceedings on closed-circuit television from the office of Emil Hristov, the Deputy Speaker from Borissov’s GERB party.

The vote in Parliament came after Simeonov announced his resignation on November 16, a month to the day after making offensive comments about mothers of children with disabilities, which led to protests demanding his resignation as deputy PM.

GERB parliamentary leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov, responding to demands by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party that Borissov present the changes to his Cabinet in person, said that Borissov was attending a scheduled Cabinet meeting. After the Cabinet, Borissov went on to talks with business association and trade union leaders.

In place of Borissov, Krassimir Karakachanov – the other of the United Patriots’ two deputy prime ministers – presented to the sitting the resignation of Simeonov and the nomination of Nikolova.

The vote came a day after the partners in Bulgaria’s coalition government spent more than six hours in talks about how to proceed in the wake of Simeonov’s resignation.

The nomination of Nikolova, who as deputy head of government succeeds to the economic and demographic policy portfolio, led opposition BSP MP Dragomir Stoynev to say that “Simeonov goes away, but he remains. A substitute comes in his place”.



The Sofia Globe staff

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