Bulgaria’s PM continuing to seek support against defeat in no-confidence vote

Bulgarian Prime Minister and We Continue the Change party co-leader Kiril Petkov is continuing to seek support among MPs to prevent his government being brought down in next week’s no-confidence vote in Parliament, he told reporters on June 18.

Currently, GERB-UDF and the other groups that have stated support for the motion have 125 MPs in Bulgaria’s 240-seat National Assembly, enough for the motion to be approved.

The Petkov camp have recruited six MPs to support it by quitting former government coalition partner ITN, to vote with the government, but Petkov needs six more MPs to stave off defeat.

Petkov told reporters that his efforts to find the additional MPs should not surprise his political opponents.

“We will do our best to find them. We will continue to work with everything we can, to convince them why it is so important for Bulgaria that they make the right decision,” Petkov said.

He said that “if by chance” the government falls, his party and its current coalition partners would talk to every MP from all political groups who wants to decide whether to support a new government with a WCC mandate, “but they must be independent”.

Petkov said that his party wanted to break behind-the-scenes control of politics.

“Everyone who wants to be with us must be able to make their own decisions.”

He said that WCC would not negotiate with GERB leader Boiko Borissov, Vuzrazhdane leader Kostadin Kostadinov or ITN leader Slavi Trifonov “but with all independent parties and MPs”.

Interviewed on Bulgarian National Television’s weekly talk show Panorama on June 17, Petkov said that the constant talk about North Macedonia was intended to keep his coalition unstable.

Trifonov cited the North Macedonia issue as a pretext for quitting the ruling coalition, though WCC has dismissed this claim, saying that Trifonov left because ITN did not get its hands on money it wanted.

Petkov has referred to Parliament a French proposal on resolving the North Macedonia issue, reportedly by unblocking the start of Skopje’s EU accession talks in exchange for the EU guaranteeing that North Macedonia will meet Bulgaria’s conditions for the start of talks.

“I kept saying that there would be no decision without the Bulgarian Parliament…as Prime Minister, I will not make any decision unless it is taken by the Bulgarian Parliament.

“The only thing I will say at the table with the leaders of Europe is that I will not make a change in the Bulgarian position if there is no decision from the Bulgarian Parliament,” Petkov said, referring to the June 23-24 European Council meeting that he is scheduled to attend.

President Roumen Radev continued on June 18 his attacks on Petkov and his government on North Macedonia.

“The Cabinet never managed to prepare a Bulgarian proposal on the case with North Macedonia, and now it is submitting the French one,” Radev said.

“It transferred everything to the National Assembly without expressing the government’s position. The Prime Minister cannot submit something to Parliament without stating a position. He is not a courier, but a Prime Minister,” the President said.

Kornelia Ninova, leader of governing coalition partner the Bulgarian Socialist Party and a deputy PM in Petkov’s government, called in a lengthy Facebook post on June 18 on Radev to stop speculating with the topic of North Macedonia in order to bolster his personal ratings and gain political dividends.

GERB leader Borissov, whose parliamentary group would be the second to receive a mandate to seek to form a government should WCC’s attempt fail, said on June 18 that he had been against tabling a no-confidence motion in the Cabinet, although they deserved it because “thefts and corruption are currently on an unprecedented scale”.

Borissov said that if his group received a mandate, he would seek talks with other political groups, and these would be based on specific principles.

GERB saw as an ally any party that supported and worked for Bulgaria entering the euro zone, EU enlargement to include the countries of the Western Balkans, full diversification of gas supplies, maintaining ethnic tolerance, Nato membership and accepting that Russian President Vladimir Putin was an aggressor.

(Photo of Kiril Petkov: BNT)

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