Bulgaria’s Parliament debates motion of no confidence in Petkov government

Debate in Parliament on a motion of no confidence in Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov’s government proceeded lengthily on June 21, with exchanges frequently straying from the stated grounds, GERB’s claims that government economic policy has failed.

The special sitting began at 11am and was still proceeding more than seven hours later, while a succession of protests, for and against the government, were held outside the Parliament building.

Towards the beginning of debate, GERB MP and former finance minister Kiril Ananiev sought to paint a picture of a Bulgarian economy that was doomed, with overestimated economic growth, underestimated inflation, high budget deficits, huge public debt enslaving future generations, unrealistic unemployment figures and other inaccurate estimates of the components of macroeconomic planning,

Addressing members of the Cabinet who were in the House: Ananiev said: “I’m not sure you have the competence to understand us”.

Assen Vassilev, Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, essayed a point-by-point statistical rebuttal of Ananiev’s claims. “You should have chosen something other than the economy,” Vassilev told the opposition benches.

Vassilev said that the deficit was precisely as approved by the National Assembly, and Bulgaria’s deficit was one of the lowest in the European Union this year.

Exports were up by 20 per cent, in all categories, “not because of your claim, that it is because of arms exports, but in all areas of the economy”.

Debt had been reduced, Bulgaria had the third-lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in the EU, said Vassilev, who also quoted from the recent Fitch Ratings pronouncement on Bulgaria.

Hitting out at the former GERB government’s policies, Vassilev said: “Your philosophy is ‘to hell with the poor’.”

This earned Vassilev a rebuke from Acting Speaker Miroslav Ivanov, who at the opening of debate had urged MPs to refrain from inappropriate language, behaviour and physical clashes.

PM Petkov said that the real reasons for the motion of no confidence were that the state had regained control over the Kapitan Andreevo border checkpoint, the gas connection with Greece would be ready in July, and genuine judicial reform was underway via various mechanisms.

Petkov said that four people were behind the motion: GERB leader and former PM Boiko Borissov, who feared that justice would come; Delyan Peevski, who feared that his companies would not get money, Russian ambassador Eleanora Mitrofanova, and ITN leader Slavi Trifonov.

“Do not allow Bulgarian politics and where this country is going to depend on four text messages from four people who are not in this hall,” Petkov said.

Acrimonious exchanges in the course of debate included those between Petkov and Deputy PM and Regional Minister Grozdan Karadzhov, who complied with Trifonov’s instructions to submit his resignation from the Cabinet and now opposes the government.

Growth and Innovation Minister Daniel Lorer and Economy Minister and Deputy PM Kornelia Ninova also spoke in the debate, citing figures to seek to rebut opposition claims on declining investments and an economic situation worsened by this government.

Voting on the motion will be held at least 24 hours after debate ends. It remains to be seen whether Petkov will secure the co-operation of six MPs from elsewhere in the House, to ensure the survival of his government.

(Photo of Petkov: government.bg)

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