First sitting of Bulgaria’s 50th National Assembly adjourned after failure to elect Speaker

The first sitting of Bulgaria’s newly-elected 50th National Assembly was adjourned on its first day on June 19 after failing to elect a Speaker.

GERB-UDF leader Boiko Borissov, whose coalition has the largest parliamentary group and so is entitled to be the first to receive a mandate to seek to form a government, said that if his group’s nominee for Speaker was not elected, efforts to form a government would not proceed.

In a first round of voting, GERB-UDF nominated lawyer Raya Nazaryan, pro-Kremlin party Vuzrazhdane Petar Petrov, populist ITN Silvi Kirilov – who as the oldest MP was presiding over the first sitting, and populist-nationalist Velichie nominated Yuliana Mateeva.

Nazaryan got the most votes, 117, falling short of the threshold of 119 to be elected, with Petrov going through against her in the second round, in which Nazaryan again fell just short of the threshold.

The votes for Nazaryan came from GERB-UDF, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and one Bulgarian Socialist Party MP, while the votes against her came from We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria, part of the Vuzrazhdane group, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and Velichie.

ITN and most of the Vuzrazhdane group abstained.

The sitting was adjourned until 10am on June 20.

Borissov told reporters that forming a government would sense only if it was done with the support of the National Assembly’s three largest groups, GERB-UDF, the MRF and WCC-DB.

“If you ask me if I’m optimistic – I’m not. In no case am I. The largest party, traditionally, gets the Speaker of Parliament and then some processes start,” Borissov said.

“We all see how we are flying towards new elections because there are no responsible parties. I have told you 100 times that we cannot form a coalition with MRF alone. Without a broad format, we cannot form a coalition,” he said.

Earlier in the first sitting, Toma Bikov, speaking on behalf of the GERB-UDF coalition, said that for the group, there were two options in this Parliament: “Either a government of shared responsibility, supported by the widest range of parties represented in parliament and with a clear four-year work plan, or new early elections”.

MRF MP Yordan Tsonev said that Bulgaria’s voters did not want new early elections: “They want to stop the cycle of six consecutive parliamentary elections within three years, that they want stability, forming a government and solving their problems”.

Speaking for WCC-DB, former prime minister Nikolai Denkov said that GERB and the MRF had got what they wanted, an opportunity to form a government in which Borissov and MRF co-leader Delyan Peevski had the decisive say. The government should be formed by the political force that overthrew the previous government, Denkov said.

Vuzrazhdane leader Kostadin Kostadinov said that in this Parliament, his party would “continue to defend Bulgaria and the national Bulgarian interests, regardless of nihilism, apathy and stupidity”.

BSP acting leader Atanas Zafirov said that getting out of the impasse requires the joint efforts of all formations. He promised that the BSP would not throw stones and draw dividing lines, but neither would it engage in governance with party parcelling out of executive power.

ITN MP Toshko Yordanov said that all the problems in Bulgaria could be solved by an “expert government” that is not dominated by one or another party.

Viktoria Vassileva, who spoke on behalf of Velichie – its leader Nikolai Markov could not take the floor because he was late for taking the oath as an MP – made brief remarks and read an extract from a poem.

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