Bulgaria’s WCC party gives up attempt to form new government

Bulgaria’s We Continue the Change (WCC) party has given up its attempt to form a new government.

This was announced on July 8 at 4pm, an hour before the deadline to meet head of state President Roumen Radev, either to hand over a proposal for a Cabinet line-up or to return unfulfilled the mandate to seek to form a government.

WCC, as the largest group in Parliament, received on July 1 the first of three mandates to seek to form a government.

Assen Vassilev, who had been named as WCC’s candidate Prime Minister, said: “Unfortunately, we were not able to find 121 MPs to support the (proposed governance) programme”.

“In this Parliament, we managed to reach 117 MPs, we hope that in the next Parliament we will have more MPs to support us,” Vassilev said.

In accordance with the constitution, Radev must hand the second mandate to the second-largest group in the National Assembly, in this case GERB-UDF.

GERB-UDF repeatedly has said that it would return the mandate immediately.

At the ceremony at 5pm, when Vassilev handed the mandate back, Radev said that he would announce next week when he would hand over the second mandate. “I expect the time to be used by the government and Parliament,” Radev said.

President Roumen Radev, right, moments after Assen Vassilev returned the mandate to him.

The constitution gives Radev a free hand to choose to which parliamentary group to hand the third mandate.

Vassilev declined to say which group WCC would support at the third mandate stage.

Democratic Bulgaria, one of three groups in the outgoing ruling coalition and which backed WCC’s July 2022 attempt to get support for a proposed government, has expressed hope that Radev will give it the third mandate.

Unlike WCC, Democratic Bulgaria has expressed willingness to negotiate with Slavi Trifonov’s ITN party.

It was ITN’s departure in June from the ruling coalition that took office in December 2021 that was key to the events that led to the Kiril Petkov government being ousted.

If at the third stage, an attempt to get a government voted into office proves fruitless, Radev must dissolve Parliament, appoint a caretaker government and decree a date for elections, two months hence from the date that Parliament is dissolved.

In a panel discussion on Bulgarian National Television on July 8 as WCC announced its decision, political scientist Daniel Smilov said that the decision meant that the chances of an early parliamentary election later in 2022 had risen sharply.

Should Bulgaria hold a parliamentary election later in 2022, it would be the country’s fourth in two years.

(Screenshot of WCC’s Nikola Minchev, Assen Vassilev and Kiril Petkov at the July 8 news conference via BNT)

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