Confirmed: Bulgaria is again heading to early parliamentary elections

Bulgaria is set to hold early parliamentary elections after the process of seeking to form a new government proved fruitless.

The early parliamentary elections will be the sixth time in just more than three years that Bulgarians elect a legislature.

On March 28, President Roumen Radev handed the third and final mandate to seek to form a government to Parliament’s smallest group, populist ITN, which immediately handed it back.

The first mandate went, as provided for in the constitution, to Parliament’s largest group, GERB-UDF.

That mandate failed against the background of GERB-UDF and We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria not reaching an agreement on a government, instead exchanging recriminations over the aborted negotiation process.

WCC-DB, which as Parliament’s second-largest group received the second mandate, immediately returned it unfulfilled.

In line with the constitution, the President has a free hand in choosing to which of the remaining parliamentary groups to hand the third mandate.

Of those four groups, pro-Kremlin minority party Vuzrazhdane had said that if offered the third mandate, it would propose a government, though it did not believe it would be voted into office.

The Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and ITN all had said that they would not seek to form a government.

In June 2023, Nikolai Denkov took office as Prime Minister in a government voted into power as a result of a deal between WCC-DB and GERB-UDF that envisaged Denkov remaining in the post for nine months, after which a new government would be elected in a “rotation” with GERB-UDF’s Maria Gabriel at its head and Denkov as Deputy PM.

While Denkov resigned at the close of the nine months, negotiations on the new government came to naught.

This was the first time that Radev, in office as head of state since January 2017 and now in his second and final term, offered the third mandate to a party other than the BSP. Though Radev won his first term of office on a ticket backed by the BSP, his relations with BSP leader Kornelia Ninova are sour.

With the mandate-handing process over, it now falls to Radev to appoint a caretaker Prime Minister and decree the date for the early parliamentary elections.


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