Bulgarian socialists receive govt mandate


After earlier talks on forming a new government failed, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev will hand the mandate to form an administration to the Bulgarian Socialist Party BSP and, later on Monday, was to meet Socialist leader Kornelia Ninova, the Presidency said on Sunday.

The BSP, successor to the one-time ruling Communist party, is unlikely to solve the political stalemate: the pro-Russian party is traditionally at odds with the main opposition centre-right GERB party, and its relationship with former coalition partners “We Continue the Change” and Democratic Bulgaria worsened after outgoing PM Kiril Petkov announced the expulsion of 70 Russian diplomats.

The BSP, “We Continue the Change”, Democratic Bulgaria and “There’s Such a People” were part of Petkov’s cabinet, which governed from December to June, and is currently ruling in resignation.

Bulgaria looks headed to a fourth general election in a year-and-a-half after “There’s Such a People” left Petkov’s the reformist coalition, joined the opposition and kickstarted the recent no-confidence vote which ousted Petkov and his “We Continue the Change” party on June 22.

Since then, “We Continue the Change” failed to assemble a new cabinet after being handed a mandate from Radev while GERB returned its mandate without even trying to form a cabinet. 

Radev ran for President in 2016 and 2021 as an independent, supported by the BSP. He also turned to the Socialists as his “third option” twice in 2021 when the country was in a political logjam amid unsuccessful coalition discussions.

His two caretaker cabinets in 2021 contributed to the creation of the “We Continue the Change” led government. However, the President, who has made several pro-Russian remarks over the years, grew increasingly hostile to Petkov after he condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Radev and Petkov and the BSP are also at cross purposes over whether Bulgaria should lifting its veto on EU accession talks with North Macedonia. 

If the BSP’s bid to form a cabinet fails, as expected, President Radev will have to form an interim government to lead Bulgaria until the next elections, which are likely to be held in September.

With new elections looming, on 18 July, polling agency Trend issued a new research which put GERB in first place on 23,6 per cent, followed by “We Continue the Change” on 21.4 per cent.

The Movement for Rights and Freedoms, focused on the Turkish diaspora, would get 10.7 per cent, the BSP 9.8 per cent, the pro-Russian far-right Revival 9.6 per cent, Democratic Bulgaria 6.2 per cent and recently established Bulgarian Rise Stefan Yanev, former interim PM and Defence Minister who was ousted for pro-Kremlin rhetoric, 5.7 per cent.

The poll suggested that “There’s Such a People”, headed by popular entertainer Slavi Trifonov, which came second in February 2021 elections and first in July 2021, would win no seats.

-Balkan Insight


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