Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said on June 14 that the ruling coalition would nominate new Cabinet ministers, to replace the outgoing ones from Slavi Trifonov’s ITN party, as soon as the coalition had a majority in Parliament.
With ITN out of the ruling coalition in Parliament, the remaining three groups – We Continue the Change (WCC), the Bulgarian Socialist Party and Democratic Bulgaria – together have 109 MPs in the 240-seat National Assembly.
Five MPs are leaving the ITN group, to vote with the government, meaning that the ruling coalition has yet to recruit seven more MPs to support it, to secure a majority.
Petkov said that the nomination of the new Cabinet ministers would be a coalition decision.
Names of possible nominees to join the Cabinet were not currently being discussed, Petkov said.
He said that he had no intention of taking over a ministry.
Petkov said that he would not seek a vote of confidence in the government, and the changes of ministers would be a real vote of confidence in the Cabinet.
“We are moving forward and I believe that we will gather 121 MPs,” he said.
“Then we will introduce the law on [the anti-corruption commission] to be approved, and (Interior Minister Boiko) Rashkov to become head of the commission,” Petkov said.
“The most important thing we have focused on is to have 121 MPs who have no dependencies, none of them to stop the reform of the judiciary, the change in the anti-corruption commission and to be able to adopt the Budget.”
Petkov said that he would continue to speak to anyone who would work in the interests of Bulgaria, amid Russia’s war on Ukraine, and the political, inflation and energy crisis.
He said that if Bulgaria’s Parliament did not by the end of the year approve 22 laws required to receive funding under the EU Recovery and Sustainability Plan, the country would lose 12 billion leva.
“The update of pensions would not happen, which is an incredible blow to the poorest at the moment – retirees,” Petkov said.
“Young families will not receive additional tax relief, fuel will continue to keep prices high,” he said.
Petkov said that according to experts, it was very likely that there would be another wave of Covid-19 in the autumn.
“In this context, if Bulgaria enters a series of elections at the moment, it would be really disastrous and a waste of historical time,” he said.
Petkov said that many people in the illicit sectors “are losing money now and would be happy if they had influence through a political party”.
Referring to photographs and other materials spread on social media intended to discredit him, Petkov said: “This will not stop us”.
“We are going to gather a lot of enemies, those who know that sooner or later they will end up at the Prosecutor’s Office or the European Prosecutor’s Office, which deals with funds, the second group are those who have gas and energy profits, which are now running out.”
Petkov said that he was sure that, third, Russia would be “happy to see another government” of Bulgaria.
Meanwhile, on June 14 Parliament’s press centre confirmed to Bulgarian media that the five MPs who announced on Monday that they were leaving the ITN parliamentary group had lodged their applications to do so.
The five are Nikolai Radulov, Deyan Petkov, Ivo Atanassov, Svetlin Stoyanov and Georgi Georgiev.
They will sit as independents. Bulgaria’s parliamentary rules do not allow floor-crossing or the founding of a new parliamentary group within an existing National Assembly.
Radostin Vassilev, the outgoing Sports Minister from the ITN quota who was instrumental in forming the group of MPs who are leaving Trifonov’s party, told bTV on June 14 that initially, there were more people who wanted to leave.
“We were all threatened,” Vassilev said.
When asked how many people were involved, he answered 10 to 12.
“ITN has a huge problem, this is not Slavi Trifonov, but (parliamentary group leader) Toshko Yordanov,” Vassilev said.
“We realised it a long time ago, he is hated because of his arrogant ruthless behaviour, because of his rude language towards MPs. It is not normal. The ITN MPs are currently in hell,” he said.
Justice Minister Nadezhda Yordanova, from Democratic Bulgaria, declined to comment on June 14 on how the tension between WCC and ITN would affect the life expectancy of the current National Assembly.
Bulgarian National Radio reported Yordanova as saying that the position of Democratic Bulgaria was that a government is possible only if there is a clear majority.
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