Boiko Borissov’s GERB-UDF and the We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria coalition held a 40-minute leaders meeting on April 25, with Borissov saying that he wanted to see who would be in a government nominated by WCC-DB, to discuss it with his party members.
The meeting between the first- and second-largest parliamentary groups was called by GERB-UDF to discuss the agenda for the country in the context of the forthcoming handing over of the first mandate to seek to form a government. The talks were shown live on television and via the internet.
“We believe that in the current situation we have to find a way to form a government, either with the first or with the second mandate, but otherwise we go to new elections in June or July, which will produce the same result and we will end up in the same negotiations again,” Borissov said.
He told the WCC-DB delegation: “If you present such a cabinet, should we like it, we still have a topic of conversation. If you have held talks with the other parties, and you have another option for support, apart from us, you should tell us”.
WCC co-leader Kiril Petkov responded that GERB-UDF was the largest parliamentary group and thus has the first right to propose a government, and issued a reminder that – as GERB-UDF itself had announced – Borissov’s group would have meetings this week with the other parliamentary groups.
“Can I interrupt you, not out of disrespect?” Borissov said, going on to say that GERB-UDF hd decided not to conduct negotiations with other parliamentary groups until it had exhausted the topic with WCC-DB.
Petkov said that his coalition would wait “with full respect for the reflections” of GERB-UDF on the first mandate, and then it will be ready to hold talks on what can be done in the second mandate. “The question is what work can be done. That’s the real discussion,” he said.
WCC co-leader Assen Vassilev said that it was not traditional practice to talk about a government with a second mandate before the first mandate had been exhausted.
Borissov said that that if “you miss the train” with the first, then you will go to the second, which may turn out to be unacceptable for GERB-UDF. He said that it did not matter what the government is as long as it is stable.
Vassilev said that, in addition to a legislative programme, a clear government programme should be developed as well.
“If we have to propose in some form the composition of a cabinet to guide you regarding the first mandate, then we have to carry out a process on what programme this cabinet will have to implement,” Vassilev said.
Borissov has said that he also has a backup option for support for a cabinet, although he refuses to share details. However, currently the only possibilities would be the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and the National Assembly’s smallest group, ITN, given that Vuzrazhdane and the Bulgarian Socialist Party have said that they would not vote for a GERB government.
In the course of the meeting, Borissov called on responsible parties to commit to the adoption of the Budget. He asked WCC-DB what their views were in this area.
Petkov said: “We are ready to talk and see within the framework of responsible behaviour what we can achieve as policies, especially on the topic of the Budget. It is important for us to achieve a three per cent deficit without raising taxes and cutting the social programme.
“We are open to we are talking about other sectoral policies – such as energy, judicial reform. We responded to this meeting to talk about these reforms. We are aware that we have to talk about the Budget responsibly too,” said Petkov.
“We cannot support the first mandate. This was stated from the very beginning, but we are ready to talk about these policies ,” he said.
Vassilev said that it would be good to work with the Finance Ministry because in the Budget it had presented, there were deficiencies.
Petkov expressed hope that the laws on which GERB-UDF and WCC-DB had agreed on the legislative programme of the 49th National Assembly would be tabled.
GERB-UDF’s Dessislava Atanassova said that the majority that the two coalitions could form together in the parliamentary committees could start processing the most important bills next week in parallel with the examination of the details of the Budget.
The two coalitions are ready to jointly introduce the domestic violence bill today, which would be a sign that the two formations are willing to start working together on the legislative programme, she said.
Atanassova said that GERB-UDF would support the caretaker government’s bill to investigate the Prosecutor-General and there was no disagreement with WCC-DB on this topic.
They will also support the bill dividing the anti-corruption commission into two. The detail is that GERB-UDF have declared their support for the bill submitted by the caretaker government, and WCC is sticking to its, so it will also be considered.
GERB-UDF’s Tomislav Donchev said: “I don’t want to spoil the spirit of serenity and consensus, but I want to remind you that literally from tomorrow, work must start together with the Ministry of Finance regarding the Budget. We need concrete measures and decisions also whether there will be a majority for this in Parliament”.
Borissov said: “It’s important that we have a government because otherwise we’ll be working at two-month intervals until people get tired of dealing with us.
“So I think we’ll go with what we’ve heard from you, which is that you won’t support us in the first mandate, and you want us to support you unconditionally regarding the second mandate. However, let’s not think that we are self-sufficient, there are four more parties in Parliament,” Borissov said.
Please support The Sofia Globe’s independent journalism by becoming a subscriber to our page on Patreon: