Bulgaria’s Parliament votes Petkov coalition government into office

Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted the quadripartite coalition government headed by Prime Minister Kiril Petkov into office on December 13.

The vote came just less than a month after Bulgaria’s November 14 early parliamentary elections, and 10 days after the 47th National Assembly held its first sitting.

Petkov and the coalition Cabinet, the proposed line-up of which was announced on December 11, were voted into office with the support of the groups represented in the coalition – his We Continue the Change (WCC) party – which won the largest share of votes on November 14 – and the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), cable television presenter Slavi Trifonov’s ITN party and the Democratic Bulgaria coalition.

The votes, for Petkov as Prime Minister, the structure of the Cabinet and the personnel, respectively, were in all three cases 134 in favour, 104 against, with no abstentions.

WCC co-leaders Assen Vassilev, now Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, and Kiril Petkov, Prime Minister, moments after being voted into office on December 13.

Voting against were former prime minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB-UDF coalition, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, and the National Assembly’s smallest group, the pro-Russian Vuzrazhdane.

Speaking in debate ahead of the vote, Petkov reiterated that his government’s motto would be “zero tolerance for corruption”.

“Zero tolerance for every lev spent illegally,” he said.

Petkov said that as Prime Minister, he would be “first among equals”.

He said that a sharp rise in the price of electricity for household consumers from January 1 should be avoided, and everything possible should be done to reduce costs for businesses.

Petkov said that his first order on taking office would be to require members of the Cabinet to have Covid-19 green certificates. He pledged a stepped-up campaign for vaccination against Covid-19, on a voluntary basis.

“We need to inform the Bulgarian people that this is the only way forward if we do not want to confine our children, do not want to endanger our elderly relatives, do not want to fill up hospitals.”

Petkov, addressing the opposition benches, called on them to be constructive and critical.

Having said repeatedly that he wants the new coalition government to serve a full four-year term, Petkov said: “I expect in four years Bulgaria to be a quite different place”.

BSP leader Kornelia Ninova, who becomes one of five deputy prime ministers, said that the vision for the way the new government would work was to have transparency, order and rules that apply equally to everyone, instead of matters being controlled from behind the scenes.

Viktoria Vassileva, deputy leader of the ITN parliamentary group, said that the new Cabinet was taking on heavy responsibilities from which everyone was fleeing.

Democratic Bulgaria co-leader Hristo Ivanov said that the coalition government agreement enabled Bulgaria to be governed without GERB and the MRF, which was an important precondition for policies against corruption to be implemented.

GERB-UDF MP Daniel Mitov said that the structure of the new Cabinet meant a larger administration, in spite of requests to reduce it. He said that the “entire power infrastructure of the state remains under the control of the President”.

Petkov and WCC co-leader Assen Vassilev were ministers in the May 2021 caretaker government appointed by President Roumen Radev, while the Cabinet elected on December 13 retains three ministers from the outgoing caretaker government, including prime minister Stefan Yanev, who stays on as Defence Minister.

MRF leader Mustafa Karadayi said during the debate that his party would be a constructive opposition.

The Petkov government takes office towards the close of a year that has seen three parliamentary elections in Bulgaria. The legislatures elected at the regular election in April and early elections in July did not vote a government into office.

(Main photo: parliament.bg; screenshots via BNT)

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