Bulgaria’s two major coalitions agree deal on Speaker, legislative programme

Negotiating teams from Boiko Borissov’s GERB-UDF coalition and the We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria coalition – the two largest groups in Bulgaria’s newly-elected Parliament – announced at a news conference on April 18 that they had reached agreement on the Speaker of the 49th National Assembly.

The two coalitions agreed that GERB-UDF’s Rossen Zhelyazkov will be elected Speaker, and the 49th National Assembly lasts more than three months, consideration will be given to rotating the post.

The April 12 start of the first sitting of the National Assembly saw a standoff resulting in no Speaker being elected, with only Parliament’s smallest group, ITN, backing GERB-UDF’s nomination of Zhelyazkov.

Failure to elect a Speaker blocked the start of parliamentary business and the process of seeking to form a government. The sitting is to continue on April 19, and together GERB-UDF and WCC-DB have enough MPs to implement their deal on Parliament’s presiding officer.

The agreement is that while Zhelyazkov is Speaker, the post of the head of Parliament’s legal affairs committee will be in the hands of WCC-DB.

Last week, to resolve the impasse over electing a Speaker, WCC-DB proposed the rotational principle, which initially was rejected by GERB-UDF.

Following talks that began on April 13, the two coalitions have prepared jointly a list of bills to be proposed to the other parliamentary groups.

The proposed legislation is linked to reforms under the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Plan, Bulgaria’s accession to the euro zone and the Schengen visa zone and a bill on protection against domestic violence.

Nikolai Denkov of WCC-DB told the news conference that the meetings of the two coalitions’ working groups had not discussed the formation of a government, only the legislative programme.

After the April 2 elections, Borissov said that the most stable government would be one involving both GERB-UDF and WCC-DB, but the latter formation repeatedly has insisted that it could not support a government proposed with a GERB mandate or one involving Borissov’s party.

(Screenshot of Zhelyazkov via BNT)

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