Question mark hangs over resumption of talks on a new Bulgarian government

The day after an impassioned row between the We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria and GERB-UDF coalitions, there were politicians on both sides speaking of a resumption of talks on a new government, though it was not immediately clear if this was achievable.

WCC-DB was angered on March 19 when GERB-UDF Prime Minister-designate Maria Gabriel presented President Roumen Radev with a proposed Cabinet, the line-up of which had not been agreed with WCC-DB.

At a news conference on the night of March 19, leaders of WCC-DB’s constituent parties had harsh, insulting words for GERB-UDF and Gabriel personally.

However, on March 20, there were voices within WCC-DB calling for a way to be found for talks to resume amid cooled passions.

Among them were DB co-leader Atanas Atanassov and outgoing Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov, who said that at the point that talks were broken off by GERB-UDF and Gabriel went to present the proposed Cabinet, the two coalitions had been nearing agreement on a governance document and the line-up of a government.

GERB-UDF leader Boiko Borissov said on the morning of March 20 that a resumption of talks may be possible if WCC-DB offered a “big apology”, in particular to Gabriel, and if Gabriel accepted the apology.

At the same time, WCC-DB figures including Kiril Petkov, Denkov and MP Daniel Lorer spoke of a loss of trust in Gabriel.

The President’s office has said that Radev followed the constitution in issuing the decree asking Parliament to vote on the candidacy of Gabriel to be Prime Minister. This was a response to WCC-DB calling on him to withdraw the decree.

Constitutional experts issued a reminder that a proposed government line-up may be amended before being voted on in the National Assembly.

Currently, GERB-UDF expects an apology from WCC-DB by the afternoon of March 11 at the latest, to possibly open the way for negotiations to get on track.

WCC co-leader Assen Vassilev, who at the Tuesday night news conference referred to Gabriel as “perhaps the newest and most beautiful face of the mafia” told bTV on Wednesday that if Gabriel felt offended by the adjectives he had used in a personal capacity, he might as well apologise.

“But in her capacity as a candidate for prime minister, I think what she did is absolutely unacceptable,” Vassilev said.

“The ‘mafia thing’ is to announce a cabinet that was not agreed on,” he said.

“The most honest thing would have been to say that she didn’t agree when the cameras were there with the president, but she didn’t. She announced it with the idea that this composition of the cabinet is agreed on and accepted, and that the ministers know who the other ministers in the cabinet are. What kind of behaviour is this?”

“This is not fair behaviour towards the Bulgarian citizens, certainly not fair behaviour towards the negotiating team and the ministers who she announced in this composition of the draft cabinet,” Vassilev said.

He said, regarding the apology “in her capacity as a candidate for Prime Minister, this action of hers is completely unacceptable, and shows a lack of leadership qualities, a lack of ability to keep your cool when you are under great pressure, a lack of ability to withstand pressure and make the right decision”.

I apologise to the woman Maria Gabriel if she felt affected , he said.

Asked whether the PP will return to the negotiating table, Vassilev replied that they did not leave the negotiating table.

“GERB-UDF left the negotiating table. There were seven more days within the mandate for negotiations,” Vassilev said.

“We did not understand where this rush and these deadlines came from, given that the constitution gave a whole week for negotiations. We must discuss everything in the National Council of WCC, and let’s see the outcome”.

(Photo, of the Cabinet office, the ‘Party House’ where the National Assembly currently sits, and the Presidency: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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