WCC-Democratic Bulgaria, GERB-UDF resume talks on a government

Representatives of We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria and Boiko Borissov’s GERB-UDF have resumed negotiations on a proposed government.

The development came on May 31, after GERB-UDF announced on May 27 that it was “freezing” talks with WCC-DB, expressing indignation at the contents of an illicit recording of a WCC national council meeting six days earlier held to discuss the question of a deal with GERB on a government.

On May 31, there was a three-hour meeting, involving WCC-DB candidate Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov, GERB-UDF’s Maria Gabriel, Borissov and WCC co-leaders Kiril Petkov and Assen Vassilev.

GERB-UDF wants Vassilev not to be candidate Finance Minister or, for that matter, a cabinet minister, and is pushing for a government made up of experts.

Denkov, speaking after the three-hour talks, said: “There will be no ministers from GERB as ministers from GERB”.

He said that WCC-DB was willing to accept nominations of experts “from everywhere”, including the journalists who were asking him questions.

Speaking in the morning, before the talks started, Denkov said that there should not be party figures in the cabinet, but experts should be brought in. This is a shift in WCC-DB’s position, which previously was to nominate a cabinet including party figures.

Speaking after the meeting, asked by reporters whether “the ice was melting” and “are the temperatures rising?” Denkov said: “Between zero and a hundred degrees”.

He described the talks as being held in a constructive spirit.

DB co-leader Atanas Atanassov told bTV on the morning of May 31 that changes were expected in the line-up of candidate ministers, with experts coming in to replace political figures.

“This list will be provided to us, discussed and voted on. Naturally, it must be agreed in advance with Maria Gabriel,” Atanassov said.

In parallel with the quest for an elected government, the prosecutor’s office continued with its flurry of announcements involving figures from WCC-DB and GERB-UDF, including that the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office had requested the prosecutor’s office to ask Parliament to remove the immunity from prosecution that Borissov has as an MP.

The Sofia prosecutor’s office made the move in connection with “Barcelonagate”, involving long-standing allegations that Borissov covertly owns a house in the Spanish city. Prosecutors said that pre-trial proceedings had been initiated against Borissov in connection with alleged money-laundering.

Borissov told reporters on May 31 that he would not voluntarily renounce his immunity. He said that he had gone without immunity for two years and was not giving it up now. He saw the announcement by prosecutors as an attempt to prevent a deal between GERB and WCC-DB on a government going ahead.

DB co-leader Atanassov told bTV: “The Barcelonagate case has been dragging on for three years. Borisov had no immunity for two years. Why was there no action then? This is a targeted pressure attack against Borissov, aimed at making the second mandate to form a government fail”.

Asked how GERB would be dealt with against the background of many criticisms over the years, Atanassov said that personal feelings did not matter.

“Seventy per cent of Bulgarian society insists on a government. We have to respond to that, regardless of my personal feelings. I don’t have to explain whether I hate or love Boiko Borissov,” he said.

A poll done by the Alpha Research agency for public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television’s weekly Referendum talk show found that 66 per cent of those polled wanted the current Parliament to elect a government, 32 per cent said that new parliamentary elections should be held, and two per cent were undecided.

WCC-DB has until 5pm on June 5 to present President Roumen Radev with the proposed structure and line-up of a government. Failure to do so will mean that a third mandate to seek to form a government should be handed over. The constitution allows Radev a free choice to which parliamentary group to hand a third mandate.

(Photo of Denkov from WCC’s website and of Gabriel from the EC Audiovisual Service)

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