Bid for ‘vote of no confidence’ in Bulgaria’s recently-appointed caretaker government

The three smallest groups in Bulgaria’s National Assembly said on April 17 that they had gathered sufficient signatures to petition for a debate and vote of no confidence in the Dimitar Glavchev caretaker government, which was sworn into office on April 9.

The move is being backed by pro-Russian Vuzrazhdane party and the Bulgarian Socialist Party, as well Parliament’s smallest group, populist ITN.

Whether a motion could proceed, however, is in doubt.

Head of state President Roumen Radev said that constitutional experts said that Parliament could not vote on a motion of no confidence in a caretaker government.

Bulgarian National Radio quoted Veliko Turnovo University constitutional law lecturer Hristo Ormandzhiev as saying that attempting a parliamentary motion of no confidence in a caretaker government ran contrary to a 1992 ruling by the Constitutional Court.

Constitutional law professor Nataliya Kisselova said last week that a caretaker government was subject to parliamentary control but not to a vote of no confidence. The constitution envisaged the latter only in the case of an elected government, she said.

Should it be decided that the motion could not proceed, that would render hollow the threat by the three minority groups to go ahead with it unless Radev dismisses Glavchev.

Glavchev, whose previous posts include having been elected to Parliament five times on the ticket of Boiko Borissov’s GERB party and who was for a few months Speaker after being nominated by GERB, has come under fire for apparently carrying out Borissov’s wishes in spite of promising that he was politically neutral.

An example is Glavchev’s request to Radev to dismiss Stefan Dimitrov as caretaker Foreign Minister and replace him with Daniel Mitov, currently a GERB MP. Glavchev lodged the request a few hours after Borissov called for Dimitrov to be axed from the interim government.

On April 17, Borissov said that the fact that Glavchev had lodged the request just a few hours after he had made his call was a “coincidence”.

We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria co-leader Kiril Petkov described Borissov’s claim of a “coincidence” as “laughable”.

On April 16, the government information service said that Glavchev had asked Radev to decree the dismissal of Kiril Vatev as caretaker Agriculture Minister and replace him with Georgi Takhov.

While in the case of the foreign affairs portfolio, Mitov is clearly a GERB figure, Takhov – head of the State Fund Agriculture – is seen as being close to the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and to Radev.

On April 17, Radev did not say whether he would sign the decrees for the replacement of the two caretaker ministers, saying that he first wanted to hear from Glavchev about his motives for wanting the changes.

Radev said that he was inviting Glavchev – in Brussels for a European Council meeting on April 17 and 18 – for talks at the Presidency on April 19.

Radev said that the dismissal of the two ministers, Dimitrov and Vatev, was being sought a week after they took the oath of office, and he said that this was further proof of the failure of the constitutional amendments approved by Parliament in 2023.

Those amendments removed the choice of a caretaker government line-up from the head of state and placed it in the hands of the caretaker PM-designate. Radev has challenged most of the 2023 constitutional amendments in the Constitutional Court.

“In their quest to impose a complete monopoly on power, the parties that voted for the changes to the constitution have made the institution of the caretaker cabinet meaningless,” Radev said.

He said that party meetings issue orders and threaten the caretaker PM, referring to Borissov, who had criticised Dimitrov, saying that he was trying to change the foreign policy course of the country.

“It is strange that a Prime Minister changes his opinion every other day,” Radev said.

“As to the Foreign Minister, it became clear where the order came from, but who ordered the replacement of the Minister of Agriculture, who Mr. Glavchev personally presented to remain in the office in the spirit of continuity and as someone with proven managerial experience in the field,” Radev said, referring to Vatev having retained the portfolio that he had held in the 2023-2024 Denkov government.

“Don’t you think it is strange that the Prime Minister should change my mind every other day, and is it even normal to change ministers every other day? This is how we confuse society, business, and partners,” Radev said.

Radev sharply criticised the nomination of Mitov, a deputy leader of GERB, to be caretaker Foreign Minister.

Glavchev, speaking from Brussels, said: “I have given my proposals for issuing a decree , and now it is President Radev’s turn – I call on him to fulfill his obligations”.

Glavchev said that the proposals for the changes were “entirely mine” and resulted “from conversations I had”.

“I do not trust the two ministers that I have proposed to be replaced. They can’t work at the speeds I want, I want continuous communication and quick solutions. We really don’t have time to wait,” he said.

(Photo, of the April 11 meeting of the Glavchev caretaker cabinet:

The Sofia Globe staff

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