Bulgarian Socialist Party decision on mandate pending

The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) national council will meet at the beginning of the week to decide whether to continue efforts to propose a government or to return the mandate, party leader Kornelia Ninova told Bulgarian National Radio on July 24.

“If we see that there is no possibility of a government, we will not abuse the mandate and we will return it, but we will continue efforts to the last,” Ninova said.

She said that there would be more clarity by Wednesday, or Tuesday evening at the earliest.

Ninova’s comments came after ITN party leader Slavi Trifonov announced on July 22 that the party was withdrawing from talks on forming a new government within the current Parliament.

Trifonov’s announcement came a few hours after Ninova said that the BSP would hold on to the third mandate until August 12, and would propose cancelling part of Parliament’s summer recess, to make it possible to elect a new head of the energy regulator and approve vital legislation, including on anti-corruption.

The cable television presenter portrayed himself as offended by the contents of a leaked discussion by the Democratic Bulgaria parliamentary group, although Democratic Bulgaria has said that the discussion was a routine political conversation with no genuine basis for Trifonov to be offended.

Ninova told BNR: “Driven by concerns about the situation with the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission, for example, we are holding talks on retaining the mandate to resolve these issues for the people”.

She was referring to the consequences of the Constitutional Court having ruled this past week that the election of the head of the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission was unconstitutional.

Ninova said that after the BSP national council meeting, the party would meet with the partners from the three parties – meaning, We Continue the Change, Democratic Bulgaria and ITN, the groups with which the BSP had been attempting to come up with a new version of the December 2021 quadripartite coalition.

“We have not held talks with ITN whether they agree about delaying the mandate after Slavi Trifonov announced that he was withdrawing the party from government negotiations,” Ninova said.

GERB and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms have called on Ninova to return the mandate on July 25.

After Trifonov’s Friday announcement, President Roumen Radev said that the BSP should fulfil the third mandate in accordance with the constitution and “the interpretative decision of the Constitutional Court”.

This was an apparent reference to an opinion issued by the court in 1992, when it said that the holder of the third mandate should nominate a candidate Prime Minister one week after receiving the mandate and should present a proposed Cabinet two weeks after receiving the mandate.

Were that approach followed, the BSP, which received the mandate on July 18, would hand it back on July 25.

However, the constitution itself is silent on the issue of the time frame for holding the third and final mandate to seek to form a government. It was on that basis that Ninova had sought to hold on to it until mid-August.

Asked by BNR how she explained Radev, GERB and the MRF speaking in one voice, Ninova said: “it’s illogical to me politically”.

Ninova said that the goal of the BSP, WCC and Democratic Bulgaria was to fight corruption, to change the old model, to have new rules and a state based on the rule of law.

“Maybe this broke the negotiations,” she said.

She said that GERB, the MRF and Vuzrazhdane had seen that there was a chance to elect the anti-corruption commission with Boiko Rashkov as its head and “they got scared and pulled ITN out again”.

Ninova said that early parliamentary elections would be meaningless: “It will be the same again, we will miss the important summer months in which to make decisions about the winter”.

ITN MP Stanislav Balabanov told Nova Televizia on July 24 that there was no way for ITN to return to the negotiating table.

Balabanov said that “if Kornelia Ninova has dignity, she should return the mandate on Monday”.

Democratic Bulgaria co-leader Hristo Ivanov told BNR on July 24 that “some parliamentary groups have political functional illiteracy”.

He was referring to Trifonov’s and ITN’s reaction to the leaked recording.

“To say that because of this, the country should be thrown into elections is the highest degree either of severe inadequacy, or of dependence on the plan of GERB and MRF to want to prove that without them, the country cannot be governed,” Ivanov said.

“Only against this background can these two parties appear acceptable and return to power, to consume it in a corrupt manner”.

Ivanov said that the country had to have a government: “It is facing one of the most serious crises”.

“Against this background, someone was offended. Who does this serve? GERB and MRF. The ITN parliamentary group must answer a simple question: What exactly will result from them sulking and being prissy?” Ivanov said.

“No matter how stupid you think the Bulgarian voters are, that for the fourth time they will not notice what is happening, this is absurd. The same geniuses of strategy have taken a decision that by being offended and causing an election, people will say ‘okay’ to spending another million on elections”.

“We cannot throw the country into chaos with early elections. In this period, we must ensure the energy balance of the country. Instead – we will go to elections. Instead of taking care of our security, for the next Budget, we will go to elections. There are tasks that need to be done now,” Ivanov said.

(Photo of Ninova: BSP)

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