Bulgaria’s WCC seeks support for Budget amendments, minority government

The We Continue the Change (WCC) party co-led by Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and his deputy PM, Finance Minister Assen Vassilev, is continuing its quest to recruit 12 MPs to supply the necessary majority to approve the Budget amendments – and in turn, a minority government.

This follows this week’s announcement by ITN party leader Slavi Trifonov that he was withdrawing his party’s four Cabinet ministers from the government, and ITN MPs from the ruling coalition in Parliament.

National Assembly Speaker Nikola Minchev, of WCC, said in a television interview on June 12 that getting the Budget amendments approved was a higher priority than the changes to the Cabinet voted.

The Budget amendments must be adopted by the end of June “so that pensions can be calculated and pensioners can receive their new pensions from July 1. This has priority over the change of ministers. The update is the more important issue,” Minchev said.

It was confirmed this week that Petkov was contacting MPs from ITN to try to persuade them to vote with the government.

“Any of these MPs from the parliamentary group of ITN, who believe that the current course of action taken by its leadership is not the best for Bulgaria and that is why that MP has entered politics – we hope that he can decide that there are a better way,” Minchev said.

“I firmly believe that we can find these 12 people to support us. ITN is the most obvious choice. There are 240 MPs in the National Assembly, each of whom has their own morals and acts according to their own conscience and convictions. So, anyone who would like to support us – that’s great,” he said.

Minchev said: “There are no specific invitations. We are offering – to work together for the future of the country”.

On the vacancies in the Cabinet, he said that “in practice, they are not vacant”.

Of the four ITN ministers in the government, two have said that they have submitted their resignations and two have said that they will do so on June 13.

Minchev said that the resignations would have to go through the National Assembly, for it to vote on them and on the proposed replacements.

“This should be done with a draft decision of the Cabinet with personnel changes. There is no legal deadline to regulate this procedure,” Minchev said.

As to talk of voting in a different government within the current Parliament, he said: “Purely mathematically – it’s possible.

“With 240 MPs, 121 are needed for a majority in Parliament. But if we talk in terms of principles, so that each formation adheres to what it said before the election, I do not see what this new majority is. I do not think we will support a new Cabinet with a Prime Minister who is not Kiril Petkov.”

WCC MP Mihal Kambarev told Bulgarian National Television on June 12: “We are still looking for 12 MPs to support us, and I am optimistic that they will be found”.

“This is not just the job of the Prime Minister, at the moment we are only talking to ITN,” Kambarev said.

He said that WCC was looking for people who came to power to make the country better.

“The situation in the group is optimistic. A minority government can work, but if these 12 people are found, it becomes a majority government,” Kambarev said, adding that no approach had been made to Vuzhrazhdane, the pro-Kremlin, 13-MP group that is the smallest in the country’s Parliament.

Tourism Minister Hristo Prodanov, of governing coalition partner the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), said in a television interview on June 12 that he did not want to predict whether there would be new elections.

“In politics, it is important to be responsible and to fulfill the commitments you made before the election,” Prodanov said.

“If there are those who intend to pursue a policy of fighting corruption, raising incomes and restoring the rule of law, there may be talks about another government within this Parliament.”

Prodanov said that there had been no talks about distributing among the remaining three partners in the ruling coalition the four ministries being vacated by ITN.

“Let this become a fact and then there will be coalition talks and these issues will be clarified,” Prodanov said.

The BSP national council met on June 12 to decide the way forward, having been convened by party leader Kornelia Ninova, who in her first reaction to Trifonov’s announcement said that now was not the time for new elections. Reports after the meeting said the BSP had decided to remain in the coalition and did not want early elections.

Tomislav Donchev, deputy leader of Boiko Borissov’s GERB party, said on television on June 12: “There is no political logic to supply them [the ruling coalition] with 12 MPs”.

“From now on, the days of this government are numbered. If the participating parties think of self-preservation, its life must end sooner,” Donchev said.

He said that that “unfortunately”, there may be an election.

Donchev said that he saw “no special chances” of forming a government if a mandate was handed to the GERB-UDF group, the second-largest in the current Parliament, to seek to do so.

“The will of the people has determined us to be in opposition,” Donchev said.

He said that now is the time for a vote of no confidence.

“The life of this Cabinet should not be artificially extended,” Donchev said.

Borissov, speaking in Veliko Turnovo on June 12, said that the best update of the Budget would be the resignation of the government.

“The state is broken. I wonder what will happen next,” Borissov said.

GERB has no ambition to get involved in any kind of government, Borissov said, describing the calls of the current government seeking political support as the “biggest public vote buying”.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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