Borissov: Negotiations on a government to begin on March 9

Negotiations between the GERB-UDF and We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria coalitions on a government will begin on March 9 at 6pm, GERB-UDF leader Boiko Borissov told reporters on March 8.

This is a sequel to the resignation of Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov’s government, approved unanimously by the National Assembly on March 6.

In June 2023, GERB-UDF and WCC-DB agreed on a system of “rotating” the Prime Minister’s post between the two coalitions, with WCC-DB’s Nikolai Denkov to hold the post for an initial nine months, followed by GERB-UDF’s Maria Gabriel taking over a further nine months.

However, Bulgaria’s constitution does not allow the Prime Minister’s chair to be simply handed over from one person to another, but requires the resignation of a government to open the way for another to be voted into office.

Relations between the two coalitions are fractious and the past day has seen rival proposals for negotiations to start, with WCC-DB having wanted them to commence on March 8, after Borissov and Gabriel returned from the European People’s Party two-day conference in Romania’s capital Bucharest.

Borissov said that the negotiations would continue on March 10.

The stated reason for the negotiations to start on Saturday evening is that WCC-DB’s Hristo Ivanov has a commitment to attend the national conference of his Yes Bulgaria party during the day on Saturday.

The negotiations will cover topics including regulatory bodies and judicial reform.

Borissov said that it would be up to Gabriel to decide which ministers would be in the Cabinet after the “rotation”.

“I leave the decision to Maria Gabriel – she will work with the ministers, she will be responsible. I think that Assen Vassilev cannot remain the Minister of Finance, but if Gabriel can work with him, let him work,” he said.

In an ironic comment, Borissov said that if the regulators were so important to WCC-DB, more than the ministerial posts, he was making the “exotic” proposal that GERB-UDF gets all the Cabinet posts except the Foreign Affairs portfolio, while WCC-DB would get all the regulators.

WCC-DB leaders, at a joint briefing, called on Borissov, if he wants to negotiate, to attend the talks on March 9 and not to “say what he thinks through the media,” they told the media.

WCC co-leader Kiril Petkov said: “If we play the game of ‘I delegate, but I will say everything through the media, this is destructive!’ This Cabinet only makes sense if our reforms continue. We will not support this government just to have a government”.

DB co-leader Atanas Atanassov said that “his friend” – Borissov – had obviously had too much adrenaline in Bucharest and called on him to calm down.

“He looked like [President] Roumen Radev. He didn’t say one nice word about the government. Only criticism,” Atanassov said.

“Attacks are being launched against one or another minister, but this is not productive. We have to sit together without cameras and microphones and do our work,” he said.

Petkov called on Borissov to stop emitting epithets.

“Yesterday someone was obedient, today someone was corrupt, a third was bad – this does not help. We treat the GERB negotiation team with great respect, we will continue to do so. Please refrain from these epithets”.

The weekend’s negotiations will be followed on Monday and Tuesday by Radev holding consultations with the six parliamentary groups.

After the consultations, Radev will hand over the first mandate to seek to form a government, which, in accordance with the constitution, must go to Parliament’s largest group, GERB-UDF, which will face a seven-day deadline to either fulfil or return it.

If matters reach the stage of a second mandate, that will go to the second-largest group, WCC-DB, which similarly will have seven days to fulfil it or hand it back.

At the third stage, the head of state has a free hand to choose a parliamentary group to which to hand the final mandate. Failure at the third stage, which has no seven-day deadline, would trigger early parliamentary elections.


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