Bulgarians head to the polls putting hope in new political force

The prosecutor’s office has refused to launch an investigation against Bulgaria’s new Prime Minister Kiril Petkov for making allegedly false statements about his citizenship. [Yuliya Lazarova / Dnevnik]

Bulgaria will head to its third national election this year, after the Socialists became the third political party to refuse to lead a government following July’s inconclusive parliamentary election. According to analysts, the game-changer this time could be a new political force.

The Socialists gave up on plans to form a working government after their potential allies, the anti-establishment “There is such a people” party of showman Slavi Trifonov and two smaller anti-graft parties, refused to back them. The party will return the mandate to the president on Tuesday (7 September).

Slavi Trifonov: Bulgaria’s miracle worker

The big surprise of the pivotal Bulgarian elections held on 4 April was the performance of showman Slavi Trifonov’s party, “There is such a people”, which captured 17.66% of the vote and is likely to go on to form a government. But who is Stanislav Slavi Trifonov?

“We did our best and appealed for sense and responsibility, but it did not work out,” Socialist leader Kornelia Ninova said.

According to constitution, President Rumen Radev has to dissolve parliament, appoint a new interim administration and call a snap poll within two months.

The new parliamentary election could be held as early as 7 November, or coincide with one of the two rounds of a presidential election, on 14 November or 21 November.

The prolonged political uncertainty is hampering Bulgaria’s ability to efficiently deal with a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and tap into hefty European Union’s coronavirus recovery funds. Only 17% of the Bulgarians are fully vaccinated, which is the lowest rate in the EU.

The Socialists’ decision comes after both “There is such a people”, which narrowly won the July polls, and the centre-right GERB party of former premier Boyko Borissov failed to form a government in the fractured parliament. Borissov’s party faces complete isolation in Parliament, while the anti-GERB majority is too divided to form a cabinet.

According to analysts, a game-changer in the new election could be a new political force headed by Kiril Petkov, the charismatic economy minister in the caretaker cabinet. However, while he is still in office, Petkov hasn’t made his political plans public.

During his term in the caretaker cabinet Petkov gained notoriety by exposing corruption and mismanagement in infrastructure projects under Borissov’s rule.

Petkov came under attack by opponents for having foreign nationality, which according to constitution doesn’t allow him to be a minister. However, he produced evidence that he gave up his Canadian nationality which he obtained as a child after his parents emigrated to Canada.

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