Protest outside Bulgaria’s Parliament as no-confidence debate begins

Protesters demanding the resignations of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s government, Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev and early elections disrupted traffic in the main thoroughfare outside Parliament on the morning of July 20 as MPs began debating a motion of no confidence tabled by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party.

The protest was called on the theme: “Occupation of the National Assembly. Everyone out” and plans were for it to continue until the evening.

Bulgarian media quoted protesters as saying that they were there seeking the resignation of the government and all MPs, and the event was not a show of support for the BSP.

The group organising the protest, being held on the 12th consecutive day of protests against the government and Geshev, had called for civil disobedience, including the blocking of major thoroughfares, railway and bus stations, airports and court buildings.

Bulgarian National Radio said that the situation at Sofia’s central railway and bus stations was calm in spite of the call for civil disobedience. There were few passengers at both and no increased police presence.

The protests began days ago after a number of incidents, including Yes Bulgaria leader Hristo Ivanov’s attempt to land on a beach near Movement for Rights and Freedoms honorary president Ahmed Dogan’s seaside mansion, and the prosecutor’s raid on the President’s office. Participants are predominantly young Bulgarians, who say they are seeking deep-seated reforms, an end to corruption in government and the establishment of the rule of law.

The BSP’s motion, which the party tabled on the grounds of the government’s failure against corruption, is to be put to the vote on the morning of July 21 and is not expected to be approved. The motion is the fifth against the third Borissov Cabinet and the second since the beginning of 2020.

BSP leader Kornelia Ninova said that the reasons for public dissatisfaction were rooted in rejection of Borissov’s corrupt government and the one-man oligarchic-mafia model of governance that he has built.

Cabinet ministers have rejected calls for the government to resign, saying that it would caused deep disruption amid the crisis, while some senior figures in Borissov’s GERB party have pointed to opinion polls saying that even if elections were held now, it would still get the largest share of votes.

Opposition MPs called for Borissov to come to Parliament to attend the no-confidence debate. Speaker Tsveta Karayancheva pointed out that Borissov is in Brussels attending the European Council meeting.

Borissov has said that after the no-confidence motion is defeated, he would announce a major reshuffle of the government. Last week, he ordered the resignations of the finance, interior and economy ministers.

Geshev has said that he will not resign. He has been tangled in a war of words with President Roumen Radev, who has made repeated calls recently for the resignations of the government and of Geshev.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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