Bulgaria’s President continues to press for government to be elected

However improbable the prospects of success, Bulgarian President Roumen Radev is continuing to urge parliamentary groups to achieve the “consensus and compromise” that would enable the current National Assembly to elect a government.

On August 18, Radev completed his current round of consultations with representatives of parliamentary groups, meeting Democratic Bulgaria, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and the “Rise Up Bulgaria! We’re Coming” coalition.

Radev announced the consultations earlier, saying that they would lead him to decide to which group to hand the third exploratory mandate to seek to come up with a government that Parliament would vote into office.

He has made the timing of the handing of the second mandate conditional on Parliament approving the Budget amendments tabled in early August by the caretaker cabinet he appointed. That second mandate will go to Parliament’s second-largest group, GERB-UDF, which has said it will hand it back.

The August 18 meeting with Democratic Bulgaria lasted just 10 minutes, with the coalition’s co-leader Hristo Ivanov saying that dialogue, a level playing field and a mutual willingness to make concessions to find common were key to being able to elect a government.

Ivanov said that the four parties in the current National Assembly other than GERB and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms should try to nominate a government to manage the country through the winter, amid the crises it is facing.

Radev’s meeting with the Movement for Rights and Freedoms was wracked by tension.

After MRF leader Mustafa Karadayi reiterated his mandate that the party’s support for a government could not be unconditional and depended on “restoration of normalcy in politics and democracy in our country”, Karadayi went on to raise the issue of the citizenship of caretaker Economy Minister Kiril Petkov.

That issue has been a political sideshow in Bulgaria for some days, used by parties seeking to attack the caretaker cabinet, and through it, Radev. Bulgarian law forbids certain office-bearers, including cabinet ministers, holding dual citizenship. Petkov has given public assurances that he renounced the Canadian citizenship that he also had held before taking office.

Radev hit back at Karadayi, saying that Petkov had assured him that Bulgaria was his motherland, with the President then challenging the MRF leader to say which his motherland was. This was a barb based on reports that Karadayi, some weeks ago, had said that Turkey was his motherland.

“My motherland is definitely Bulgaria,” Karadayi said, to which Radev responded: “I hope you’re sincere”.

That little skirmish over, Radev went on to receive the “Rise Up Bulgaria! We’re Coming” delegation, headed by Maya Manolova.

Manolova, at the conclusion of lengthy remarks, said that an attempt to form a government with the third mandate should avoid the mistakes made by Slavi Trifonov’s ITN party, which she listed as including unilateral decision-making, a domineering approach, as well as a refusal to have a signed agreement on a governance programme and transparency in the talks.

Regardless of which group received the third mandate, her group would make every effort for it to succeed, Manolova said.

On the first day of the talks, August 17, ITN reiterated that they would not support any government nominated with the third mandate.

GERB-UDF repeated that they would accept the second mandate but return it immediately, while the Bulgarian Socialist Party said that if they got the third mandate, they would hold talks with all groups except GERB and the MRF in an attempt to form a government.

Separately, speaking on August 18, Nikolai Hadzhigenov of the “Rise Up Bulgaria! We’re Coming” group said that the only way to achieve a workable minority government would be for the three “protest” formations to come up with one, with the support but not the participation of the BSP. The group would not support a government nominated by the BSP, he said.

GERB leader Boiko Borissov, also speaking on August 18, described Radev’s consultations as “pointless”.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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