We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria renounces mandate to seek to form government

On behalf of the We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria parliamentary group, Nikolai Denkov – the coalition’s Prime Minister-designate for mere moments – accepted a mandate on March 27 to seek to form a government, and immediately returned it unfulfilled.

WCC-DB is Parliament’s second-largest group, and as such was entitled by the constitution to receive the second mandate, the first mandate – handed to the largest group, GERB-UDF – having failed.

Ahead of the ceremony at the Presidency, WCC-DB and GERB-UDF continued to exchange recriminations about which of the two groups was responsible for the failure of negotiations on a government.

WCC-DB decided earlier not to proceed with seeking to fulfil the mandate after GERB-UDF refused its “last-minute” offer for a deal on a government.

WCC co-leader Kiril Petkov told President Roumen Radev: “Unfortunately, the first mandate was a failure because GERB-UDF did not keep their agreement” – a reference to the 2023 deal between WCC-DB and GERB-UDF on an 18-month government with the Prime Minister’s post “rotating” after nine months from WCC-DB to GERB-UDF.

“We gave them [GERB-UDF] a second chance to correct their mistake, but unfortunately elections are coming,” Petkov said.

Denkov told Radev: “I will return the mandate unfulfilled, as there is no support in the National Assembly for the governance programme we adopted with GERB-UDF nine months, there is no support for the reforms either.”

Denkov said that the GERB-UDF coalition wanted elections “and this is the result of their desire”.

“Four times the other negotiating team got up and left the room, there were clear indications that the negotiations were not being conducted on substance. From now on, unfortunately, Bulgarian citizens will once again have to decide where to proceed,” he said.

Petkov said that WCC-DB would not participate in negotiations on the basis of the third (and final) mandate.

He asked Radev to make an effort so that early parliamentary elections would be held simultaneously with Bulgaria’s European Parliament elections scheduled for June 9.

“Our request is, if you can save 100 million leva for the Bulgarian citizens, so that two elections are not held, I ask you to make an effort,” Petkov said.

“I know that this is not entirely in your powers, but it is not enough that the state is going into chaos because GERB-UDF forgot their promises, but at least if we can save the Bulgarian taxpayers 100 million leva for holding two elections,” he said.

Radev took the opportunity to criticise WCC-DB for the constitutional changes approved in 2023 and of which he has referred large parts to the Constitutional Court. Radev has been irked by the amendments curtailing his powers, among other things, over the choice of a caretaker government.

“I understand your concern, but it is too late for such a request,” Radev responded to Petkov.

“I have urged that no rash changes be made to the constitution, especially in relation to the cabinet. You have made them, and now the questions become much bigger,” Radev said.

“I will do my best to make the process of choosing the caretaker Cabinet from turning into a constitutional crisis.

“For your part, you did everything possible to severely limit the powers of the presidential institution. I sympathize with you, but you did everything possible to prevent this institution from being able to dominate the processes, as it was until now,” Radev said.

According to the amended constitution, in naming a caretaker Prime Minister, the head of state must choose from a list – the Speaker of the National Assembly, the governor and deputy governor of central Bulgarian National Bank (BNB), the Ombudsman and Deputy Ombudsman and head and deputy head of the Audit Office.

On the morning of March 27, Speaker of the National Assembly Rossen Zhelyazkov informed the House that Elena Cherneva–Markova had resigned as Deputy Ombudsman. With Ombudsman Diana Kovacheva set up to take up a post as a judge on the European Court of Human Rights, Radev’s choice is reduced from 10 people to eight.

Radev said to the WCC-DB delegation: “How did Mrs. Elena Cherneva-Marcheva decide to resign? Was there pressure? Why wasn’t a hearing initiated? Her resignation narrowed my choices even more, and she was the only one who is not politically connected”.

Radev has yet to announce when he will hand over the third mandate to seek to form a government, and to which parliamentary group.

Of the remaining four parliamentary groups, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the Bulgarian Socialist Party, and ITN have said that they would not seek to form a government if offered the third mandate.

Pro-Kremlin minority party Vuzrazhdane, the fourth-largest parliamentary group, has said that if offered the third mandate, it would propose a government. However, there is no chance that the National Assembly would vote to approve the proposal.

(Photo: president.bg)

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