Bulgaria’s 46th National Assembly holds first sitting, facing quest to elect government

Bulgaria’s 46th National Assembly held its first sitting on July 21, with Slavi Trifonov’s ITN party throwing out the gauntlet about electing a new government.

As the largest parliamentary group, ITN is entitled to be the first to be offered a mandate to seek to form a government.

ITN’s Toshko Yordanov told MPs that if the declarations about wanting change were sincere, it should be possible to have a government within the next 14 to 15 days.

If not, the country would face early elections again, he said.

“When President Radev gives a mandate, we will propose a cabinet and hold talks on the policies that need to be pursued,” Yordanov told the National Assembly.

Dessislava Atanassova of the second-largest group, GERB-UDF, said that the group would be a “strong, constructive and competent” opposition to the next government.

Atanassova said that it was possible that the next government would be one of interests, rather than political leadership, and like other such governments before it, would collapse.

Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Kornelia Ninova said that if Radev offered her party the third mandate to seek to form a government, the BSP was committed to “offer priorities and ensure the stability of the people”.

Hristo Ivanov, co-leader of the Democratic Bulgaria coalition, said that Bulgaria was in crisis and had not had a fully-fledged government for more than a year.

Work should begin to cope with the forthcoming Covid-19 wave, Ivanov said, adding that the priorities were the recovery and resilience plan, a Budget of change, with the possibility of recalculating pensions.

“It is high time for a serious conversation about health care reform, reform of electoral legislation. A solution must be found with the Republic North Macedonia,” Ivanov said.

Movement for Rights and Freedoms leader Mustafa Karadayi said that his party was calling for consensus. “We are ready for dialogue,” he said.

Maya Manolova of the “Rise Up BG! We are coming” coalition (formerly “Rise Up! Mobsters Out!”) said that the main task in this National Assembly was to fulfil the will of the ordinary people of Bulgaria to live in a just, wealthy, prosperous state governed by the rule of law.

Manolova said that people expected what she called the “protest formations” to unite and achieve a complete transformation after decades of stagnation. “They expect us to stand behind a decent government that cares about the people, not the interests of the party elites,” she said.

ITN’s Iva Miteva was elected Speaker, with 137 votes in favour, one against and 99 abstentions, defeating the only other candidate, Christian Vigenin of the BSP. Miteva was Speaker of the 45th National Assembly.

By the rules of Bulgaria’s Parliament, each parliamentary group is entitled to put forward a Deputy Speaker.

In the 46th National Assembly, these are Viktoria Vassileva (ITN), Rositsa Kirova (GERB-UDF), Christian Vigenin (BSP), Atanas Atanassov (Democratic Bulgaria), Mukades Nalbant (MRF) and Tatyana Doncheva (“Rise Up BG! We are coming”).

Earlier, Radev said that he would not delay the procedure of handing over a mandate to seek to form a government.

“At the moment when the National Assembly is constituted, I will start the constitutionally determined procedure for consultations and for handing over an exploratory mandate,” Radev said.

Miteva, speaking to reporters after her election, said that she would ask the other presiding officers to agree to cancelling Parliament’s summer recess.

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