Democratic Bulgaria, Manolova’s group up stakes in talks on government

In an apparently co-ordinated move, the Democratic Bulgaria coalition and Maya Manolova’s parliamentary group have upped the stakes in the process towards Slavi Trifonov’s ITN proposing a government.

ITN, which received the largest share of votes in Bulgaria’s July 11 early parliamentary elections, is entitled by the constitution thus to receive from the President the first mandate to seek to form a government.

Trifonov’s party has said that it will announce its revised proposed government when it receives that mandate, while President Roumen Radev has said that he will hand over the mandate when it is clear that a proposed government will be supported.

ITN has insisted that it is not engaging in negotiations with the other parties, only talks on policies. Having ruled out meeting Boiko Borissov’s GERB-UDF, ITN held talks with “Rise Up Bulgaria! We’re Coming”, the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Democratic Bulgaria and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms this past weekend.

In a statement on July 28, Democratic Bulgaria co-leader Hristo Ivanov said that the coalition wanted the complete isolation of the MRF from the talks on forming a new government.

Ivanov insisted that the names of the candidate ministers be announced so that policies could be discussed with them and they could make commitments to implementing those policies.

Democratic Bulgaria is insisting on a common vision for clearing out regulators, security services and the financial system of dirty money, and restoring energy sovereignty.

“We will expect a very clear vision, a commitment to a clear programme to deal with the Covid wave,” Ivanov said.

Democratic Bulgaria also wants a signed agreement on a government that will keep the MRF and GERB-UDF at a distance.

Ivanov said that the inclusion of the MRF in the rounds of talks was particularly worrying, along with the possibility that the MRF will participate in some form.

He said that it was difficult to understand why no effort was being made to integrate current members of the caretaker government, such as Economy Minister Kiril Petkov, Finance Minister Assen Vassilev and Education Minister Nikolai Denkov, into a proposed future government.

Ivanov said that he wanted there to be a government, but one that could truly transform Bulgaria, not just be a fig leaf or screen.

Manolova, head of the “Rise Up Bulgaria! We’re Coming” parliamentary group – with ITN and Democratic Bulgaria, the third of the “protest parties” – said that the fulfilment of their conditions and priorities would determine whether they would vote in favour of a government proposed by Trifonov’s party.

“People expect a government in which GERB and MRF have no influence. We will not support a cabinet that shows the long arm of GERB and the MRF,” Manolova said, adding that whether this was happening would be seen clearly when the names of the candidate ministers were announced.

Manolova listed the group’s conditions and priorities as including “real, deep, judicial reform”.

“It should not be limited to changes in the Bulgarian constitution and constitutional debate and should include specific legislative changes in the short term, which would allow for a change of the Supreme Judicial Council and the Prosecutor-General,” she said.

Other priorities included an “audit” of the GERB government.

“People expect the truth about Borissov’s cabinet waste to become known. All information about them should be known to the Bulgarian people and everyone who participated in the squandering of billions of leva of the Bulgarian taxpayer should be held accountable,” Manolova said.

The group also had conditions regarding changes in social policy.

These included a recalculation of all pensions from October 1, grants for the birth of a first, second and third child – of 2000 leva, 3000 leva and 4000 leva, respectively – an increase in maternity pay in the second year and 10 000 leva for the birth of a second and third child if one parent has paid social insurance in the past two years.

(Screenshot from a briefing by Hristo Ivanov and Maya Manolova on July 28)

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