Bulgaria: Borissov’s GERB to decide on attitude to ruling coalition

Boiko Borissov’s GERB party will decide in coming days on its attitude to the de-facto coalition, of which it is part, that voted the current government into office just more than five months ago.

The discussions at a series of meetings take place against the background of tensions between GERB and Parliament’s second-largest group We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria, with whose mandate the government was voted into place.

The tensions were exacerbated during the campaign ahead of Bulgaria’s October-November 2023 municipal and mayoral elections, with Borissov launching a tirade on the election night after the second round, accusing WCC-DB of betrayal and demanding, among other things, a formal governance agreement.

The GERB parliamentary group met on November 8 – as GERB and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms denied Parliament a quorum for what was meant to have been its first sitting after the local elections – the GERB executive committee is to meet on November 9 and there will be a national conference on November 11, involving the party leadership, MPs, regional coordinators and mayors.

On November 8, GERB parliamentary group leader Dessislava Atanassova told reporters that she and the group were discussing the implementation of the administrative and legislative programme, which they approved together with the WCC-DB during their negotiations on the “assemblage”, the term used to describe the de-facto ruling coalition.

“On first reading, there are sectors where there is a persistent non-fulfillment of recorded commitments,” Atanassova said, although she declined to name anything specific.

Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov, speaking at a regular meeting of the Cabinet on November 8, commented on the failure of Parliament to sit that day by saying that MPs had an important job on which the future development of the country depends.

“In the next five weeks, the National Assembly has to do three important things: adopt the Budget for 2024, changes to the constitution and create rules and procedure for electing the new anti-corruption commission,” Denkov said.

How Bulgaria will develop in the next three years depends on how these tasks are solved, he said.

“I hope that today’s refusal of the National Assembly to start work is a moment of weakness related to the need for the parties to rethink the results of the elections and see how they will move forward,” Denkov said.

“But their actions in the coming days will show who are interested in narrow party interests and who are interested in the fate of Bulgaria.”

He said that for its part, the Cabinet would continue to work on the implementation of its tasks and commitments.

“For example, today we will adopt the updated plan for adopting the euro from January 1 2025,” he said.

WCC-DB co-leader Kiril Petkov told reporters, as the attempt to hold the sitting of Parliament failed: “We are sent by the people to work in Parliament and we will wait for them, that is the job of the MPs”.

After the GERB and MRF MPs failed to appear, Petkov said that WCC-DB would not register as present, so as to deny pro-Kremlin minority party Vuzrazhdane to chance to decide the legislative processes in Parliament.

On November 8, Vuzrazhdane, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and populist ITN, Parliament’s smallest group, tabled a motion of no confidence in the Denkov government, on the grounds of what they called “the government’s inability to ensure the national security and defence of the country”.

Backers of the motion of no confidence – the second tabled against the Denkov government – have called on Borissov to support it, if he is so unhappy about the government.

In another political development on November 8, controversial MRF MP Delyan Peevski, subject to US Magnitsky Act sanctions since June 2021 and UK sanctions since February 2023, became the sole leaders of the MRF parliamentary group, a post that Peevski had held jointly with Mustafa Karadayi, who has resigned as MRF leader.

The post of MRF leader is to be held by Ahmed Dogan, founder, long-time leader and honorary president of the party, pending a national conference in early 2024. Reports said that it was widely expected that Peevski would be named as the party’s next leader.

(Photo: GERB)

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