Bulgaria: GERB-UDF says it is holding talks on proposed government

Boiko Borissov’s GERB-UDF, holder of the first mandate to seek to form a government, is holding talks on the portfolios in a government proposed to be headed by former European Commissioner Maria Gabriel, while talks on names of candidate ministers will begin soon, MP Denitsa Sacheva told Bulgarian National Television on May 18.

Gabriel has said that she will present the proposed government to President Roumen Radev on May 22, the expiry of the deadline to do so.

“The talks are mainly conducted by Maria Gabriel and are conducted with all political parties, except (the Bulgarian Socialist Party), which clearly said that they would not support the policy and priorities of this government,” Sacheva said.

Whatever talks are being held are presumably being conducted privately, as no meetings open to the media have been announced.

Should Gabriel proceed to present a proposed government to Radev, the head of state would then table this for a vote in the National Assembly. Should that vote fail, the second mandate would go to Parliament’s second-largest group, We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria.

Sacheva said that GERB-UDF was trying again to negotiate with WCC-DB. That coalition confirmed this week that it would not support a government nominated on the basis of a mandate held by GERB-UDF or one in which Borissov’s coalition is involved.

GERB-UDF parliamentary group leader Dessislava Atanassova said: “We rely a lot on the votes of MPs who put national interests above their personal ones”.

However, chances of a Gabriel government being voted into office appeared to remain highly improbable.

WCC-DB co-leader Kiril Petkov said on May 18: “The only chance for Bulgaria not to go to elections is in the second mandate”.

Kostadin Kostadinov, leader of the National Assembly’s third-largest group, the pro-Russian party Vuzrazhdane, said: “This configuration at the moment in Parliament is barren. There is no way to produce an efficient and effective Bulgarian government. So the best solution is new elections”.

Movement for Rights and Freedoms leader Mustafa Karadayi repeated the party’s call for dialogue and emphasised that the MRF would take Gabriel’s proposal for an expert cabinet seriously.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party has cancelled all official trips by its MPs so as to prevent a GERB-UDF government being voted into office on the basis of a reduced quorum, according to BSP leader Kornelia Ninova.

If invited, the BSP would participate in talks with WCC-DB on a cabinet based on the second mandate, Ninova said.

“This is already such a déjà vu. All kinds of intrigues and manipulations are always launched before such a situation. The first was that we have agreed with GERB and the government is already ready, which as you can see it is not true. The second is that our MPs will provide support in absentia or by leaving the hall. I categorically state that this will not happen,” she said.

Toshko Yordanov, leader of the smallest parliamentary group, ITN, said that it had not been involved in talks about names in an expert cabinet proposed by Gabriel.

“We have not had a specific conversation. We have not proposed specific experts, we do not have such a conversation for now,” Yordanov said.

(Photo of Gabriel: EC Audiovisual Service)

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