Bulgarian MPs elect Dimitar Radev for second term as central bank governor

Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted on July 18 to appoint Dimitar Radev as governor of the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) for a second six-year term.

Radev has been at the helm of the BNB since July 2015, including the past two years in an acting capacity, as a succession of short-lived parliaments in the past two years have failed to fill a number of positions in key regulatory bodies.

The only attempt to elect a central bank governor, in April last year, failed after the only candidate, the MP for cable presenter Slavi Trifonov’s ITN party, Lyubomir Karimanski, failed to receive the necessary votes.

Radev’s nomination for a second term was put forth by the largest group in the National Assembly, former Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB-UDF coalition. GERB was also the party that nominated Radev for his first term in 2015.

After some internal discussion, the second-largest group in the National Assembly, We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria (WCC-DB)coalition, decided not to put forth its own nominee and support Radev for a second term.

GERB-UDF and WCC-DB both back the cabinet of Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov, albeit without a formal government coalition agreement.

Radev was elected with 155 votes in favour and 67 opposed. In addition to GERB-UDF and WCC-DB, the predominantly ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms also voted in support for a second term for Radev.

The votes against came from pro-Kremlin party Vuzrazhdane, ITN, and Bulgarian Socialist Party, which withdrew its own nominee last week.

The other candidate in the running, Lyubomir Hristov nominated by Vuzrazhdane, received 39 votes in favour, 135 against and 47 abstentions.

In Radev’s first term as governor, the central bank carried out stress tests of the Bulgarian banking system to prevent a repeat of the CCB collapse and joined the ERM2 euro zone ‘waiting room’.

In his second term, Radev is likely to oversee Bulgaria’s acession to the euro zone, a major policy goal for the Denkov government and the two parliamentary coalitions backing it. Bulgaria currently has no target date for joining the euro zone, but hopes to do so before January 1 2025.

The debate preceding the votes to elect the central bank governor were dominated by Vuzrazhdane and ITN MPs, only partially focusing on the subject matter, and more to do with the issue of euro zone accession and criticism of the parties in the informal government coalition.

(Dimitar Radev during the debate in the National Assembly on July 18 2023. Screengrab: parliament.bg)

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