The We Continue the Change (WCC) party will nominate Assen Vassilev, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, as its candidate Prime Minister when on July 1 it receives a mandate to seek to form a government, Bulgaria’s outgoing PM Kiril Petkov said in a televised address.
This is a change from WCC’s initial plan to nominate Petkov.
It follows the Bulgarian Socialist Party, sought by WCC to be a partner in a proposed government, breaking off talks with the Petkov-Vassilev party over Petkov’s announcement of the expulsion of 70 Russian diplomats.
BSP leader Kornelia Ninova, announcing the suspension of talks with WCC, said that her party would not accept a proposed government with Petkov nominated to head it.
In his video address, Petkov said of Vassilev: “He is a person whom I trust unconditionally, with whom we started work side by side and with whom we will finish it side by side in one team”.
Petkov and Vassilev were members of the first of two caretaker governments appointed by President Roumen Radev in 2021.
They went on to found WCC, which in Bulgaria’s third parliamentary elections last year won the largest share of votes, going on to form a quadripartite coalition with the BSP, Slavi Trifonov’s ITN and Democratic Bulgaria.
After ITN left the ruling coalition, Petkov’s government was defeated in a parliamentary vote of no confidence.
WCC, as the largest group in Parliament, is entitled to the first of three mandates to seek to form a government.
Petkov said: “With him (Vassilev) and all the members of We Continue the Change, we are on the same team. Together with all the coalition partners and all our like-minded people. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and do our job to the end”.
“Today we are at a historic watershed,” Petkov said.
“There is the opportunity to continue the change, for a lawful state that prospers, where public funds are spent on public needs, or there is the risk of going back to the behind-the-scenes dealings, and foreign interests”.
Petkov said that several things would not be allowed: Bulgaria taking the wrong direction, for a handful of people to rob public funds, for prosecutors to continue to be inactive, for foreign diplomats to give an ultimatum to the Bulgarian state.
“We will not allow it, because we are not afraid,” he said.
“Yes, we have differences with the BSP on international issues, we have personal differences with some of the MPs from ITN, but nothing can be more important than the prosperity of Bulgaria and to continue the change forward,” Petkov said.
On accepting the mandate to seek to form a government, WCC will have a deadline of seven days – the timeframe set in the constitution – to present a proposed government to Radev, to be put to the vote in the National Assembly.
(Archive photo of Vassilev: BNT)
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