An MP for Slavi Trifonov’s ITN party, Kiril Simeonov, said in the National Assembly on June 17 that he was leaving the ITN group, becoming the sixth to do so in the past few days.
However, Bulgaria’s ruling coalition remains six MPs short of the number of votes it needs if it hopes to survive next week’s vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Kiril Petkov’s government.
With Simeonov’s defection, the governing coalition may now muster 115 votes in the 240-seat National Assembly, while the groups ranged against it – GERB-UDF, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Vuzrazhdane and former ruling coalition partner ITN – have 125.
Simeonov told Parliament: “Yesterday we voted with this system and I am ashamed of that thing,” a reference to the opponents of the ruling coalition having voted together to oust Nikola Minchev, of the We Continue the Change party, as Speaker of the National Assembly.
Simeonov’s announcement was greeted with loud applause by MPs from the ruling coalition.
On June 13, five MPs quit ITN, in an episode in the saga of whether Petkov’s government, in office since mid-December 2021, will survive efforts in Parliament to bring it down. Petkov has said that he will speak to any MP who is willing to put country before party, while the government and WCC have warned of dire implications of leaving Bulgaria without a sitting legislature amid myriad crises.
ITN MP Iva Miteva – the subject of speculation that the anti-government grouping is planning to elect as Speaker, a post she held in two short parliaments in 2021 – told Bulgarian National Television on June 17 that “pressure” on ITN MPs was continuing.
“I think it is not permissible to send text messages and calls from the Prime Minister to our MPs,” Miteva said.
Saying that the no-confidence vote would be on Wednesday or Thursday, Miteva said: “We will see how the colleagues will vote. We will see if anyone has given in. It is said that there will be colleagues who will turn. I hope there will be none”.
Radostin Vassilev, the outgoing Sports Minister who has been instrumental in arranging for MPs to quit, as he has done, Trifonov’s party, told Nova Televizia on June 17: “We were not seeking a majority for the government when we decided to leave ITN”
“The word ‘conspiracy’ to leave the ITN sounds very scary. The truth is that we talked for days with colleagues – that our, my and their patience with the actions of one person who determines the entire policy of the party – have reached their limit,” Vassilev said.
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