The recently-formed We Continue the Change (WCC) party has claimed victory in Bulgaria’s November 14 early parliamentary elections and pledged to negotiate to form a coalition government.
Exit polls at the close of voting in the parliamentary elections, Bulgaria’s third this year, were divided on whether Boiko Borissov’s GERB-UDF coalition or WCC had won the largest share of votes.
The Alpha Research exit poll, as The Sofia Globe reported earlier, has GERB-UDF fractionally ahead of WCC, but that poll covers only Bulgaria, while voting abroad has not ended.
Bulgaria’s constitution provides for the parliamentary group with the largest number of seats in the National Assembly to receive the first mandate to form a government. If that group does not succeed, the mandate goes to the second-largest. Other groups elected to the new National Assembly have vowed to keep GERB-UDF out of power.
Speaking to reporters a few hours after voting ended in Bulgaria, WCC co-leader Kiril Petkov said: “We are the first political force”.
Petkov said that he was sure that WCC would work together with Democratic Bulgaria coalition, saying that the two had “very close” positions on judicial reform and the fight against corruption.
He said that his party would take a dialogue-based approach to negotiations.
WCC co-leader Assen Vassilev said that he did not expect the negotiations to be easy.
“There are so many problems to resolve,” Petkov said, underlining the need for Bulgaria to have a regular elected government.
Asked if the country would have to go elections once more (after three this year), Vassilev said: “The Bulgarian electorate has done their job, now we must do ours”.
Asked about the composition of a cabinet, Vassilev said that the first the policies should be established, then the best people to implement them.
Petkov reiterated that WCC’s only condition in negotiations would be that there could be no compromises on stopping corruption and carrying out judicial reform.
After the news conference, in an interview with bTV, Petkov firmly ruled out working with the Movement for Rights and Freedoms.
Borissov told an election night news conference that if his party proved to have got the largest share of votes, it owed it to its voters to seek to form a government.
He said that once again, GERB-UDF had to compete in an election facing “harassment and violence by the (President Roumen) Radev administration”.
Borissov said that the record-low turnout in the November elections showed how the caretaker government had failed to deliver a proper election.
There was no place where voting machines had not malfunctioned, he said.
Borissov, elected an MP in Bulgaria’s April and July elections but who did not take up his seat, said that this time round, he was thinking of doing so.
Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Kornelia Ninova pledged to be dialogue-based in talks on forming a government and said that her party would have specific proposals about the establishment of a government.
“Obviously, the talks will be complicated, will take time, but we do not have (time) to adopt the Budget for next year,” Ninova said.
Democratic Bulgaria coalition co-leader Hristo Ivanov congratulated WCC, saying that party was the bearer of change.
Ivanov said that the Petkov-Vassilev formation, as the mandate holder, was an opportunity to put GERB and the MRF in isolation in the 47th National Assembly.
MRF leader Mustafa Karadayi told an election night news conference that his party was willing to talk to all parties in the 47th National Assembly.
Trifonov said in a brief message on social networks that if he had “a time machine” he would do everything the same way he had before. ITN scuppered attempts earlier this year to form a government.
For further details about Bulgaria’s November 2021 elections, please see The Sofia Globe’s Election factfile.
(Screenshot of Petkov and Vassilev from WCC’s Facebook page)
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