Day of drama as vote on proposed Bulgarian government looms

The leader of Bulgaria’s ITN party, Slavi Trifonov, hit out on August 9 at the parties from which he had expected support for his proposed government, scheduled to be voted on in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

In the morning, a post on Trifonov’s official Facebook page said that should the “parties of the protest” – meaning Democratic Bulgaria and the “Rise Up Bulgaria! We’re Coming” coalition – not vote in favour of the proposed government presented to the President last Friday, it would be a “betrayal” and would set the country on course for what would be this year’s third parliamentary election in Bulgaria.

For ITN, matters worsened as its nominee to be deputy prime minister in charge of security and interior minister, Petar Iliev, gave a much-watched television interview in which his arrogant conduct and refusal to answer some questions resulted in outrage among Bulgarians on social networks.

In the afternoon, Kornelia Ninova’s Bulgarian Socialist Party said that it would not vote for the government proposed by ITN unless Iliev was removed.

The second post of the day on Trifonov’s Facebook page claimed that Iliev was being used as a pretext by Democratic Bulgaria, “Rise Up Bulgaria! We’re Coming” and the BSP to vote against ITN’s proposed government and “defend the status quo”.

The “Rise Up Bulgaria! We’re Coming” coalition, the 46th National Assembly’s smallest group, met in the afternoon and decided unanimously to vote against the government proposed by ITN.

The parliamentary leader of the coalition, Maya Manolova, said that the public expected reforms, changes in the social sphere and in health care.

“All this requires people, brave, honest, proven professionals in their fields, people with a clear civil position. The proposed candidates for ministers in the cabinet are not such people, they are simple,” Manolova said.

Of the Democratic Bulgaria coalition, one of its three constituent parties already has resolved that the coalition should vote against the proposed government. The other two parties were expected to make similar decisions.

Democratic Bulgaria is scheduled to hold a news conference on August 10 at 11am to announce the coalition’s decision.

For ITN, matters were compounded further on August 9 when Austria’s Kleine Zeitung published a report calling into question whether ITN’s prime minister-designate Plamen Nikolov was being correct in claiming that he had done a doctorate at the University of Klagenfurt.

The qualification was included in details about Nikolov when he presented his proposed government to the President, but according to the Klein Zeitung report, Nikolov’s name had not been found among the university’s records of students or alumni.

Responding to the report, Nikolov said that he had not claimed to be a graduate of the university, but had conducted research there. He said that the media inquiry should have been addressed to the Austrian ministry of education, not to the university itself.

On August 11, to be voted into office, the government proposed by ITN will need the support of a majority of those MPs present after a quorum has been established. Several days ago, Boiko Borissov’s GERB-UDF coalition emphasised that it would vote against it. The Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the other of the larger groups in the current National Assembly, has made no clear statement on the matter.

Should the first attempt at voting a government into office come to nothing, a second mandate would go to the National Assembly’s second-largest group, Borissov’s GERB-UDF, which has said it would make no attempt to propose a government.

After that stage, according to the constitution, the President has a free hand to offer a third exploratory mandate to any one of the parliamentary groups. Should that stage of the process prove fruitless, the head of state would have to dissolve the current National Assembly and decree a date for an election.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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