Bulgarian Socialist Party gives up bid to form government, confirming course to new elections

The national council of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) has voted to return to President Roumen Radev the third and final mandate to attempt to get a government elected, confirming the country’s course to a third parliamentary election this year, reports on September 2 said.

The BSP will return the mandate to Radev on September 7, the party’s national council decided, in a vote with 108 in favour, six against and with eight abstentions.

The party will not put forward a prime ministerial candidate. This contradicts what BSP leader Kornelia Ninova said when receiving the mandate, that the party would present the name of a candidate prime minister to Radev on September 3.

The national council decision also contradicts what Ninova said at the weekend, that the BSP would return the mandate between September 10 and 15, allowing time for a second and final vote on the Budget amendments tabled by the caretaker cabinet appointed by Radev.

The first reading of these amendments was approved on August 27, but no date has yet been announced for the second reading, although on September 2, the National Assembly agreed to hold a special sitting on September 7 for a second-reading debate and vote on the National Health Insurance Fund and social insurance budgets.

Ninova’s party had received the third mandate after Slavi Trifonov’s ITN party, which as the largest group in the current National Assembly received the first mandate, scuppered its bid, and after the second-largest group, GERB-UDF, returned the exploratory mandate it received.

After receiving the third mandate, the BSP invited ITN, Democratic Bulgaria and the “Rise Up Bulgaria! We’re Coming” coalition for talks on the formation of the government, while refusing to invite GERB-UDF and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms for talks.

ITN and “Rise Up Bulgaria! We’re Coming” said that they would vote against a government nominated by the BSP, while Democratic Bulgaria, also opposed to a BSP-nominated government, declined Ninova’s invitation for talks, dismissing it as pointless when it had become clear that the BSP’s bid could not succeed.

According to the constitution, after the third mandate proves fruitless, the President must dissolve the National Assembly, appoint a caretaker government and name a date two months hence for the holding of parliamentary elections.

A number of groups in the National Assembly, including ITN and GERB-UDF, have called for the early parliamentary elections to be held simultaneously with the presidential elections, which the National Assembly decided on September 2 would be held on November 14.

If no presidential candidate wins more than 50 per cent of the vote on November 14, a second-round election would have to be held on November 21.

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