Outgoing Bulgarian PM Borissov puts forward diplomat for successor

Daniel Mitov [Dnevnik, Yulia Lazarova]

Outgoing Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov on Wednesday (14 April) put forward Daniel Mitov, a diplomat, as his successor although most analysts agree that the proposed cabinet will likely be rejected by the new Parliament.

Borissov said he was the most qualified for Prime Minister but said he would send on Thursday Mitov, 43, who was his foreign affairs minister in 2014-2017, to get the mandate from the President to form a new government.

Bulgarians voted for change on 4 April, sending three new political parties to the 240-member parliament.

Boyko Borissov’s GERB party (EPP-affiliated) obtained 26.18% of the votes and 75 seats, which makes it the biggest party in Parliament. However, the three new political forces which stem from last summer’s protests appear to carry more weight.

Bulgarians vote for change, send three new parties to Parliament

Bulgaria’s election on Sunday (4 April) saw three new parties, largely representing the anti-corruption protests of last summer, enter parliament. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s ruling conservative GERB remained the strongest single party but with slim chances of forming a government and staying in power.

According to the constitution, GERB, as the party with the highest number of seats, will first attempt to form a government. If according to expectation GERB fails, the second political party in Parliament will make an attempt.

TV showman Slavi Trifonov’s party “There is such a people” obtained 17.66% of the vote and commands 51 MPs. Trifonov’s attempt is expected to be successful. If he fails, the President will give the mandate to a parliamentarian party of his choice.

The other potential contenders, according to their ranking, are the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) with 15.01% and 43 seats, the mostly ethnic Turkish ‘Movement of Rights and Freedoms’ (DPS) with 10.36% and 30 MPs, the centre-right “Democratic Bulgaria” of Hristo Ivanov with 9.45% and 27 seats, and the centre-left “Stand up! Mafia out” of Maya Manolova, with 4.72% and 14 MPs.

The three “protest” parties – “There is such a people”, “Democratic Bulgaria” and “Stand up! Mafia out” – have a total of 92 seats, which is short of a majority. However, they seem to enjoy the support of BSP and DPS.

The three “protest parties” reject the idea of a coalition, be it with BSP or DPS, but could enjoy their support if they form a minority government.

GERB’s isolation was illustrated by a decision on Tuesday that the first session of the new Parliament be held in the historic building of the National Assembly, instead of the recently renovated former Stalinist-style building of the Bulgarian Communist Party. Trifonov’s party made this proposal, rejected by GERB, but supported by all other political forces.

Thursday is the last day of Borissov as Prime Minister. The new Parliament will hold its first session and will terminate the mandate of the third government of Borissov, who has been in charge, in and out, since 2009. He will spend the next days as caretaker PM.

The MPs will elect a President of the National Assembly, a position which according to the constitution is higher than the Prime Minister, although under Borissov the Parliament has only been a rubber stamp for the government. Borissov’s candidate is Tsveta Karayancheva, the outgoing President of the National Assembly.

Analysts agree that Karayancheva stands no chance of being re-elected and predict that the proposal by Trifonov’s party would gather massive support. Trifonov has kept his cards close to his chest. Observers speculate that the new Parliament President could either be Iva Miteva, currently an official in the Parliament’s admistration, or the leader of “Stand up! Mafia out”, Maya Manolova, a former national Ombudsman.

It is hard to predict how long a minority government of the “protest parties” could survive. Bulgaria will hold presidential elections in the autumn. Borissov may be tempted to run, but his chances look slim against the incumbent Rumen Radev, who will seek re-election. Radev supported the summer protests against Borissov and enjoys high popular support.

Protests in Bulgaria turn violent as Borissov refuses to resign

In today’s edition of the Capitals, find out more about the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier saying he would miss the former Irish Commissioner Phil Hogan, a group of neo-fascist Slovak MPs being kicked out of parliament for failing to wear face masks, and so much more.

[Edited by Frédéric Simon]

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