GERB-UDF candidate PM urges ‘all who want constitutional reform’ to back proposed government

GERB-UDF candidate Prime Minister Maria Gabriel has thanked the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) and ITN for their support for the government she is to propose and has called on all those who want constitutional reform to vote in favour of the government she will propose.

She was speaking on May 19 after MRF leader Mustafa Karadayi finally confirmed, as had been long expected, that the party would vote in favour of the government that GERB-UDF, holder of the first mandate to do so, would propose.

On May 18, Slavi Trifonov, leader of ITN – the National Assembly’s smallest parliamentary group – said on Facebook that his party would vote in favour of an expert government. Gabriel is to propose an expert cabinet.

Together, GERB-UDF, the MRF and ITN has 116 MPs, short of the threshold to get a government elected should all MPs be present for the vote.

Gabriel will on May 22 present to President Roumen Radev the structure and line-up of the government she will propose.

The structure of the cabinet would remain the same, she said.

“Not that changes can’t be thought of, but we don’t have time for that right now. I will share the names on Monday,” Gabriel said.

“At this stage, the profile on which we have once again united is clear to me – experts, on top of their subjects, working for quick results that people can feel, in accordance with the priorities that I have shared with you. I also want to say that the parties that support me are ready for constitutional reform. Now is the time for those who want it to join,” she said.

Gabriel’s comment about “all those who are ready for constitutional reform” was widely read as an – undoubtedly futile – outreach to WCC-DB.

Karadayi indicated that talks and meetings with GERB-UDF were continuing. Gabriel met on May 19 behind closed doors with the MRF and ITN.

ITN parliamentary leader Toshko Yordanov confirmed to reporters that there are talks about an expert cabinet, but said that for the moment there was no question of nominations.

GERB-UDF leader Boiko Borissov told reporters on May 19 that he was optimistic that the proposed Gabriel government would be elected, but directed all questions on the topic to Gabriel, saying that she had the right “to negotiate, to act, to make decisions”.

Borissov, commenting on WCC-DB co-leader Hristo Ivanov’s statement earlier in the day proposing a constitutional majority for the sake of constitutional and judicial reform, said that this was also an option.

Asked how the missing votes would be secured, Borisov said: “I will answer you as (WCC co-leader and former PM) Kiril Petkov used to answer. Next week, if there is no government, there will be no Budget”.

Borissov said that between June 10 and 14, the state would not be able to make payments, not even of its salaries and pensions.

“And there is no way to work on the Budget, because a Budget is worked on by majorities who must be responsible for it. Without a government, the Budget is not seen and will not be seen. I’ve said that since day one.”

Ivanov, meanwhile, dashed the hopes of Borissov and Gabriel that WCC-DB would reverse its refusal to support a cabinet proposed on the basis of the mandate held by GERB-UDF.

Ivanov said that constitutional reform should be a “cornerstone of efforts to shape the agenda of a future government” as well as determine what the political makeup of the cabinet should be.

“A fundamental goal of our coalition is to solve the problem not by removing one, through some wars between former friends, but through a systemic change of justice in Bulgaria,” he said, referring to the current high-profile feud among top figures in the Prosecutor’s Office.

“It is clear that we from the DB, with our colleagues from the WCC, are the bearers of this idea, and it is logical to look for the implementation of such a formula in the second mandate.”

Asked whether a GERB-UDF government could fulfill this task, Ivanov answered succinctly and firmly: “No”.

WCC-DB parliamentary group co-leader Nikolai Denkov, asked about the possibility of some WCC-DB MPs defecting to vote for the proposed Gabriel government, said that he believed that no one from the group would do so.

“I don’t expect any of our MPs to vote for the first mandate. There is no such thing planned, we don’t expect them to be absent from the hall either,” Denkov said.

(Photo of Gabriel: EC Audiovisual Service)

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