Vote of no confidence in Bulgaria’s government fails as public protests continue
The motion of no confidence in Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s government, tabled by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party on the grounds of failures against corruption, was defeated in a National Assembly vote on July 21.
For the vote to have succeeded, 121 MPs out of the total 240 would have had to vote in favour.
The vote was 124 against, 102 in favour, with 11 abstentions. After the result was announced, the BSP parliamentary group, which had had the backing only of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms on the motion of no confidence, walked out of the House.
Those opposing the vote included the GERB and United Patriots governing majority partners and a group of independent MPs, as well Volya leader Vesselin Mareshki.
This was the fifth motion of no confidence tabled by the socialists since the current National Assembly took office in 2017. The previous four, all unsuccessful, were on the issues of corruption, security, healthcare and environment.
July 21 was the second day to see anti-government protesters gather outside Parliament from the morning, to coincide with the special sitting of the National Assembly for the vote.
Protests demanding the resignation of the government and of Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev entered their 13th day on July 21.
On Monday, the protests began at 7am and continued into the late evening. Throughout the day, traffic in the main boulevard outside Parliament was obstructed.
Briefly on July 20, the metro train service in the direction of the Mladost residential area was stopped, allegedly after three participants in the protests pressed the public emergency stop button in the Sofia University metro station.
Later in the day, Mincho Spassov – formerly an MP for Simeon Saxe-Coburg’s NMSII party – and a 21-year-old man were taken into custody in connection with the metro station incident. Both were released from custody on July 21, on bail of 1500 leva, and are the subject of pre-trial proceedings for hooliganism.
At a briefing on July 21, Sofia police chief commissioner Georgi Hadzhiev said that metro stations were part of the strategic infrastructure. The head of Sofia Metropoliten, Stoyan Bratoev, said that the emergency buttons were there for extraordinary circumstances, which had not existed yesterday. “The metro is not a toy,” Bratoev said.
On Tuesday, three cordons of police were on duty outside the National Assembly building.
The protesters already had said on Monday that they regarded the process of no-confidence vote because Parliament had become irrelevant. They are seeking not only the resignation of the government and the prosecutor-general, but also early parliamentary elections and machine voting, and deep-seated reforms to cut the ties between the mafia oligarchy and the political establishment.
Participation in the protests mainly includes young Bulgarians, including those who have returned to the country against the background of the Covid-19 crisis.
Bulgarian National Radio reported that they do not agree with cosmetic changes to the Cabinet, a reaction to the move last week by Prime Minister Borissov to fire his finance, interior and economy ministers.
Borissov has said that following the defeat of the no-confidence motion, he would announce large-scale changes to the Cabinet, but it is not clear when these will be disclosed.
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