Bulgarian politics and elections timeline 2007 – 2017


January 1: Bulgaria joins the European Union.

At the point that the country joins, Sergei Stanishev is prime minister in a coalition government of his Bulgarian Socialist Party, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and Simeon Saxe-Coburg’s NMSII. Georgi Purvanov is in his second and final term as President. With Bulgaria’s accession to the EU, Meglena Kouneva becomes Bulgaria’s first European Commissioner, in charge of consumer protection.

May 20: Bulgaria holds its first European Parliament elections. Of 18 seats, Boiko Borissov’s GERB wins five (with 21.68 per cent of the vote), the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s Coalition for Bulgaria five (21.41 per cent), the Movement for Rights and Freedoms four (20.26 per cent), Ataka three (14.20 per cent) and the National Movement Simeon II, one seat (6.27 per cent). Voter turnout: 28.6 per cent.

July 18: Petar Dimitrov replaces Roumen Ovcharov as Economy and Energy Minister. Miglena Tacheva replaces Georgi Petkanov as Justice Minister.


April 24: Roumen Petkov resigns as interior minister after allegations of inappropriate contacts with organised crime figures. Petkov, who denied wrongdoing, was replaced by Mihail Mikov. Ambassador Meglena Ploughchieva is appointed deputy prime minister in charge of EU funds. Vesselin Bliznakov replaces Nikolai Tsonev as Defence Minister. Radoslav Gaidarski is replaced by Evgeni Zhelev as Health Minister.


June 7: Bulgaria votes in European Parliament elections. GERB wins five seats (with 24.36 per cent of the vote), the BSP four (18.5 per cent), the MRF three (14.14 per cent), Ataka two (11.96 per cent), Simeon Saxe-Coburg’s National Movement for Stability and Progress two (7.96 per cent) and the Blue Coalition, one (7.95 per cent). Voter turnout: 37.5 per cent.

July 5: National Assembly elections. Of 240 seats, GERB wins 117 seats (with 39.7 per cent of the vote), the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s Coalition for Bulgaria 40 (17.7 per cent), the Movement for Rights and Freedoms 37 (14 per cent), Ataka 21 (9.4 per cent), the Blue Coalition – of the Union of Democratic Forces and the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria – 15 seats (6.8 per cent) and Yane Yanev’s Order Law and Justice Party 10 seats (4.1 per cent). Voter turnout: 60.2 per cent.

July 27: Boiko Borissov becomes Prime Minister in a minority government. His first education minister, Yordanka Fandukova, is elected in a by-election in November to succeed him as mayor of Sofia.

November 15: Irina Bokova takes office in her first term as head of Unesco.


January 11: Foreign minister Roumyana Zheleva, nominated to become Bulgaria’s European Commissioner, is questioned at a European Parliament hearing. The outcome is that eight days later, she withdraws her candidacy. Zheleva is replaced as the nominee by former World Bank official Kristalina Georgieva, who is confirmed as international co-operation and humanitarian aid commissioner. Zheleva is replaced as foreign minister by Nikolai Mladenov, who moves from the defence portfolio. Anyu Angelov is promoted to defence minister.

March 18: Gabrovo mayor Tomislav Donchev is appointed to the Cabinet to oversee the use of EU funds.

April 21: Anna-Maria Borissova is appointed Health Minister to succeed Bozhidar Nanev, who had been fired by Borissov.

July: Former prime minister Stanishev is charged in connection with missing secret documents. He was acquitted in 2016.

September 29: Stefan Konstantinov is appointed Health Minister to succeed Anna-Maria Borissova following her resignation.

December: Dossier Commission announces ambassadors and other diplomats who worked for communist-era secret service State Security.

December 20: Bozhidar Dimitrov resigns from the Cabinet, in which he had been minister in charge of Bulgarians abroad, over controversy about him having worked for State Security.


May: Alexander Tsvetkov resigns as Transport Minister and is succeeded by Ivailo Moskovski.

September 7: Rossen Plevneliev resigns as Regional Development and Public Works Minister to stand as GERB’s candidate in presidential elections. He is succeeded by his deputy, Lilyana Pavlova.

October 23 and 30: Two rounds of presidential elections. Out of an initial field of 18 candidates, two go to the second round. GERB nominee Rossen Plevneliev wins 52.6 per cent (having won 40.11 per cent at the first round) and BSP nominee Ivailo Kalfin 47.4 per cent (at the first round, 28.96 per cent). Voter turnout – first round 52.3 per cent, second round 48.3 per cent.

Local elections were held on the same dates, the first “two-in-one” elections for Bulgaria. GERB won the four largest cities, 10 regional centres, a result well ahead of that of the BSP, which lost several cities it had previously held, including Varna.

November 30: Diana Kovacheva becomes Justice Minister, succeeding Margarita Popova who was elected Bulgaria’s vice-president in October.


January 22: Rossen Plevneliev takes office as Bulgaria’s fourth President.

March 21: Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov leaves the Cabinet and is replaced by Delyan Dobrev.

Stefan Konstantinov resigns as Health Minister and is replaced by Dessislava Atanassova.

July 18: In a terrorist attack on a group of Israelis at Bourgas Airport, five Israelis, a Bulgarian bus driver and an attacker die. A Bulgarian-led international investigation establishes that the military wing of Hezbollah was behind the attack, but there is controversy when BSP leader Stanishev criticises this conclusion.


January 18: Borissov fires Education Minister Sergei Ignatov, who on February 6 is succeeded by Stefan Vodenicherov.

January 19: During a speech by Ahmed Dogan in which he is due to announce that he is stepping down as leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, a man rushes on stage and points a gas pistol at him. The assailant, Oktay Enimehmedov, is jailed in February 2014 for attempted murder, with a sentence of three and a half years in prison.

January 27: National referendum on the future of nuclear power – in effect, about the Belene project. For: 61.49 per cent. Against: 38.51 per cent. Voter turnout, at 20.22 per cent, was far below the 60 per cent required for the vote to be binding.

February 18: Borissov fires Simeon Dyankov as Finance Minister.

February 20: Boiko Borissov resigns as Prime Minister after an incident of violence in anti-government protests in Sofia.

March 13: Marin Raykov takes office as caretaker prime minister.

May 12: Early elections for the National Assembly. Of 240 seats, GERB wins 97 (with 30.5 per cent of the vote), the BSP 84 seats (26.6 per cent), the MRF 36 (11.3 per cent) and Ataka 23 (7.3 per cent). Voter turnout: 51.3 per cent.

May 29: Plamen Oresharski sworn in as prime minister of a BSP-MRF government.

June 14: Election of Delyan Peevski as head of the State Agency for National Security prompts months of widely-supported public protests demanding the resignation of the “Oresharski” government. The protests last a year, a month and nine days, until the government resigns.

August 2: Former foreign minister Nikolai Mladenov is appointed the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Iraq.

November 12: Irina Bokova wins a second term as head of Unesco.


January 1: All remaining labour market restrictions in other EU countries, applicable to Bulgarians since accession, fall away.

May 25: Bulgaria votes in European Parliament elections. Of 17 seats, GERB wins six (with 30.4 per cent of the vote), the BSP four (18.93 per cent), the MRF four (17.26 per cent), Bulgaria Without Censorship two (10.66 per cent) and the Reformist Bloc, one (6.45 per cent). Voter turnout 35.84 per cent.

June: Corporate Commercial Bank, the country’s fourth-largest lender, goes bankrupt. Criminal charges later are lodged against majority shareholder Tsvetan Vassilev, who takes refuge in Serbia and denies wrongdoing.

July 23: Oresharski submits the government’s resignation, which is accepted by the National Assembly on July 24.

July 27: Mihail Mikov elected leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party after the resignation of Sergei Stanishev.

August 6: Georgi Bliznashki takes office as caretaker prime minister after the “Oresharski” government resigns.

August 10: Krassimira Medarova, a former head of the Central Election Commission who was appointed to the caretaker government with the elections oversight portfolio, resigns after two days following criticism of her performance as head of the CEC.

October 5: Early elections for the National Assembly. Of 240 seats, GERB wins 84 (with 32.7 per cent of the vote), the BSP 39 seats (15.4 per cent), the MRF 38 (14.8 per cent), the Reformist Bloc 23 (8.9 per cent), the nationalist Patriotic Front – of Valeri Simeonov’s National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria and Krassimir Karakachanov’s VMRO – 19 seats (7.3 per cent), Bulgaria Without Censorship 15 seats (5.7 per cent), Ataka 11 (4.5 per cent) and the Georgi Purvanov-led ABC 11 (4.1 per cent). Voter turnout: 51.05 per cent.

November 7: Boiko Borissov becomes Prime Minister in a coalition government with members from GERB, the Reformist Bloc and ABC, with support in Parliament from the Patriotic Front.

December 1: Russian president Vladimir Putin announces the shelving of the South Stream gas pipeline project, blaming Bulgaria.


February 5: Former foreign minister Nikolai Mladenov is appointed United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

March 4: Vesselin Vuchkov resigns as interior minister. He is replaced by Roumyana Buchvarova.

October 25: National referendum on introducing electronic voting. For: 72.79 per cent. Against: 27.21 per cent. Voter turnout: 40.05 per cent. This was too low to make the result binding.

October 25 and November 1: Municipal elections. GERB wins Sofia and all major cities. Nationally, GERB got 34.5 per cent of the vote, the BSP 17.2 per cent, the MRF 14.6 per cent, the Reformist Bloc nine per cent, Purvanov’s ABC party 4.3 per cent and the Patriotic Front 5.2 per cent. Voter turnout: 53.6 per cent.

December 9: Hristo Ivanov resigns as justice minister in protest against inadequate constitutional amendments that had been meant to further judicial reform. He is replaced by Ekaterina Zaharieva.

December 24: Lyutvi Mestan is ousted as leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and expelled from all party posts and membership for backing Turkey in its dispute with Russia. Mestan, who went on to found his own DOST political party in February 2016, was succeeded as MRF leader by Mustafa Karadaya.


January 28: Borissov orders Todor Tanev to resign as education minister. Tanev’s portfolio was given to deputy prime minister Meglena Kouneva on February 3.

February 9: Borissov’s government names Irina Bokova as the country’s candidate to head the UN, following on a last-minute proposal of Bokova in the final days of the “Oresharski” government in 2014.

March – July: In various court appearances, Ataka leader Volen Siderov is handed punishments on sundry charges of hooliganism and assault. He reaches a number of plea bargains with prosecutors.

May 8: Kornelia Ninova elected leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party after the resignation of Mihail Mikov

May 10: Ivailo Kalfin resigns from the cabinet as ABC withdraws its support for Borissov’s government.

June 23: The UK votes to leave the EU. The Brexit vote results in Bulgaria’s holding of the rotating presidency of the EU being brought forward to the first half of 2018.

September 28: Borissov’s government names Kristalina Georgieva as its candidate to be UN chief, dumping Bokova. On October 6, Georgieva and Bokova both lose, to Antonio Guterres.

October 28: Kristalina Georgieva announces her resignation from the European Commission, effective December 21.

November 6 and 13: Two rounds of presidential elections. Out of an initial field of 21 candidates, two go to a second round. BSP-backed Roumen Radev wins 59.37 per cent at the second round (having won 25.44 per cent at the first) and GERB’s Tsetska Tsacheva 36.16 per cent (at the first round, 21.96 per cent). Voter turnout – first round 56.28 per cent, second round 50.44 per cent.

November 6: National referendum on three questions. One was about introducing a two-round majoritarian system for parliamentary elections, a second about voting being compulsory and a third about cutting state subsidies for parties represented in the National Assembly to one lev a vote. All three questions got strong yes votes, but voter turnout, at 50.81 per cent, was below the threshold for the results to be binding – though those who advocated the refendum dispute the finding regarding too-low voter turnout and consequent invalidity.

November 16: National Assembly approves the resignation of the second Borissov government, submitted after the GERB candidate came second in the presidential elections.


January 22: Roumen Radev is inaugurated as Bulgaria’s fifth President.

January 27: Ognyan Gerdzhikov takes office as Bulgaria’s caretaker Prime Minister.

March 26: National Assembly elections. Five parliamentary groups are elected: Boiko Borissov’s GERB with 32.65 per cent (95 seats), the Bulgarian Socialist Party 27.2 per cent (80 seats), the nationalist United Patriots coalition 9.07 per cent (27 seats), the Movement for Rights and Freedoms 8.99 per cent (26 seats) and Vesselin Mareshki’s Volya party 4.15 per cent (12 seats).