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Bulgaria faces fresh elections as Socialists refuse to form a government

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Bulgarian President Rumen Radev gives a mandate to form a new government to former Bulgarian foreign minister Daniel Mitov of centre-right GERB party in Sofia, Bulgaria, April 20, 2021. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev gives a mandate to form a new government to former Bulgarian foreign minister Daniel Mitov of centre-right GERB party in Sofia, Bulgaria, April 20, 2021. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Bulgaria will head to the polls in July after the Socialists on Saturday (1 May) became the third political party to refuse to lead a government following last month's parliamentary election.

The Socialists, who lost almost half of their seats in the April 4 election, said it would be impossible to build a working majority in a fragmented parliament and would return the mandate immediately after the president hands it to them on May 5.

President Rumen Radev faces having to dissolve parliament, appoint an interim administration and call snap polls within two months - most likely on July 11.

Prolonged political uncertainty could hamper the European Union's poorest member state's ability to restart its pandemic battered economy and effectively tap the EU's 750 billion euro ($896 billion) coronavirus Recovery Fund.

The Socialists' decision comes after both the centre-right GERB party of outgoing, three-time Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and the new anti-establishment ITN party, led by TV host and singer Slavi Trifonov, both gave up on attempts to form a government.

Popular anger against widespread corruption after almost a decade of Borissov's governance has boosted support for the anti-elite ITN party and two smaller anti-graft groupings, though the three together lack a majority in the chamber.

The Socialists, who have campaigned to unseat Borissov's GERB, said the three new parties have refused to enter into alliance with them.

"The three new parties in the parliament showed political immaturity, they could not overcome their ego," Socialist leader Kornelia Ninova told reporters after a party meeting.

"In this situation, despite our will for a change a government led by us, even a temporary one, is impossible."

Bulgaria

Bulgaria to hold fresh general election on 11 July - president

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Bulgaria will hold a snap parliamentary election on 11 July, after a third and final attempt to form a government following 4 April polls that led to a fragmented parliament failed, President Rumen Radev (pictured) said today (5 May), writes Tsvetelia Tsolova.

Outgoing Prime Minister Boyko Borissov's centre-right GERB, which has dominated Bulgarian politics over the last decade, again emerged as the largest party after last month's election but it lost seats amid widespread public anger over corruption in the European Union's poorest member state.

With Borissov short of a majority and unable to forge a new coalition, the president had asked a new anti-elite party led by TV host Slavi Trifonov to do so but it also failed, as did the third largest party in the new parliament, the Socialists.

"Bulgaria needs a strong-willed political alternative, which the current parliament failed to produce," Radev said after the Socialist Party returned the mandate to form a government.

The stalemate left Radev, a harsh critic of Borissov's failure to crack down on graft, with no alternative but to appoint an interim technocrat administration and call another snap election within two months.

The prolonged political uncertainty is unlikely to undermine Bulgaria's prudent fiscal policies and its commitment to adopting the euro currency due to a broad political consensus in Sofia on these issues, ratings agency Fitch said on Tuesday.

Fitch, which rates Bulgaria at investment BBB grade with a positive outlook, said that a protracted political deadlock could delay reforms, needed for the efficient tapping of the EU's €750 billion coronavirus Recovery Fund

Radev linked the setting of the date for the new election with the appointment of a new central electoral commission that is expected to be finalised on 11 May.

"Next week I will dissolve the parliament and appoint an interim government. In this situation, the election is expected to be held on 11 July," Radev said in a live broadcast.

Radev said he plans to appoint experts as interim ministers, including members of the Socialist Party, which has already said it would back him in his own re-election bid in a presidential vote due in the autumn.

The caretaker government will face a challenging agenda of managing a health and economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic within a tight budget it cannot amend and of ensuring a fair election.

A recent opinion poll showed GERB remains the most popular party, but its key rival, Trifonov's There Is Such a People, is a close second, raising the prospect of continued fragmentation in which the politicians will struggle to form a stable coalition government.

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Bulgaria

Daniel Mitov proposed as Bulgaria’s next prime minister

EU Reporter Correspondent

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Bulgarian media is reporting today (15 April) that the ruling GERB party is proposing Daniel Mitov (pictured) to be Bulgaria’s next prime minister. Boyko Borissov, prime minister and leader of GERB party that won the largest share of votes in the April 4 parliamentary elections, said on April 14 at a meeting of the party's parliamentary group that they were also proposing Tsveta Karayancheva as Speaker of the National Assembly, and Desislava Atanasova as chair of the parliamentary group. Borissov called on all parties to take a responsible approach to the mandates for forming a government in the wake of the pandemic and financial and economic crisis.

Daniel Mitov is a former minister of foreign affairs in the cabinet, known as "Borissov 2". Mitov's career began in the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria party, continued in the Bulgaria of the Citizens Movement, then he was foreign minister in the caretaker government with Prime Minister Georgi Bliznashki and in the second government of Boyko Borissov. Mitov is already a member of GERB and elected MP from their list of candidates.

On 14 April, the cabinet Borisov 3 held its final regular weekly meeting.

Borissov said that GERB would act responsibly in dealing with the mandate that will be assigned to them for forming a new cabinet.

The government, according to the Constitution, must resign before the newly elected Parliament, which meets for its first sitting tomorrow, April 15. Until a new cabinet is announced, the old one continues to perform its functions, but in resignation. It remains to be seen if a new government will be formed after the cycle of mandates, or if a caretaker government will be appointed.

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Bulgaria

Bulgarian general elections: Anti-establishment parties make significant gains

Cristian Gherasim, Bucharest correspondent

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Forming a new government might prove more difficult than expected, following Sunday’s parliamentary election. Though the ruling GERB party came out first, it only got 24.2% of the votes. PM Borisov could be facing quite the challenge in trying to put together a parliamentary majority needed to remain in power.

Anti-establishment political groups recorded significant gains, with the biggest surprise of the election coming from the pro-European, anti-establishment party called "There is Such a People". The party formed barely one year ago and led by a former singer and actor is expected to get 17% of the voted, tied for the 2nd place with the biggest opposition party- the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP).

The new parliament is expected to be very fragment with newcomers gaining seats. With less than half of the total votes counted, the political scene looks something like this:

The new anti-system populist party "There is Such a People" (ITN) led by the TV star and singer Slavi Trifonov came in second with 19%, followed by the Socialists with 14.9%.

Democratic Bulgaria Anti-Corruption Party and Center-Left Alliance “Get up! Down with the Mafia! ” one of the groups behind the massive anti-corruption protests demanding the resignation of Borisov obtained 11% and 5.1%, respectively.

Ethnic Turkish Party - The Rights and Freedoms Movement won 8.7% of the vote, while nationalists from the VMRO, the current coalition partner of the prime minister's conservatives, won just 3.6%, far below the electoral threshold of 4 %, on the verge of being excluded from parliament.

The partial results compelled prime-minister to suggest the creation of a cross-party expert government given that his party did not obtain an absolute majority.

"I propose to make peace - let's install experts to take responsibility and let's do everything we can to get out of the (coronavirus) pandemic by December and start moving forward," Borisov said in the wee hours of Monday morning.

Bulgaria's parliamentary election comes amid anti-corruption protests that have been taking place for over 6 months.

Boiko Borisov, an increasingly controversial politician, has been at the helm of the government in Sofia since 2009, for more than 10 years.

Negotiations for the formation of a new government are expected to take several weeks and the holding of early elections cannot be ruled out, as the unexpected rise of the ITN party further complicates negotiations.

The outcome of talks to form a new government will be hard to predict given the complicated situation.

Although Borisov's victory seems clear, the ruling party (GERB) will need at least two more parties to form a majority. However, all the new parties said that they would not ally themselves with Borisov, and the Socialists ruled out any entry into a coalition with him. But even the increasingly divided opposition does not seem to be able to ally itself against the Conservative prime minister.

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