Borissov to resign after Bulgarian presidential runoff

Borissov to resign after Bulgarian presidential runoff
Prime Minister Boyko Borrisov said the opposition should try to form a government.
By Dimitar Koychev in Sofia November 14, 2016

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that his government will resign after the presidential runoff was won by the candidate supported by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), a move likely to lead to early elections.

Former air force commander General Rumen Radev was supported by 59.35% of the voters on November 13, the central election commission said after processing 99.33% of the votes. Parliament speaker Tsetska Tsacheva, the candidate of the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB), was chosen by 36.17% of the voters. Some 4.48% chose the newly introduced option “do not support anyone”.

Borissov commented that the presidential elections have shown that there is a new majority comprising BSP, the opposition predominantly ethnic-Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), the right-wing Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB) and others. He suggested that they create a government and rule. The prime minister added that if these parties need a quorum in the parliament, GERB will provide it.

The second government of GERB has ruled since November 7, 2014. It is a coalition government that also includes the Reformist Block, which DSB is currently leaving. The leftwing Alternative for Bulgarian Revival (ABV) had been part of the ruling coalition until May.

The nationalist Patriotic Front is not part of the coalition, but usually supports the government. However, the Patriotic Front joined forces with the opposition nationalist party Ataka for the presidential elections, and their candidate ranked third at the first round held on November 6.

After the prime minister files the resignation, it has to be approved by the parliament. In theory, there is a possibility that the assembly will reject the resignation, but Borissov ruled out this option. After the parliament votes through the resignation, outgoing President Rossen Plevneliev will give GERB an exploratory mandate for forming a new government. GERB will most likely return the mandate, as on November 13 Borissov said that they will not try to make a new government within the current parliament.

After that Plevneliev is expected to give a mandate to the second largest party in the parliament, the BSP, which also said it would return it. The president has the right to one more move, selecting another party represented in the parliament. If no government is formed, this will exhaust the possibilities for a new government within the current parliament.

The most likely scenario is hence early parliamentary elections, which can take place in March at the earliest, Dnevnik daily commented. Plevneliev will have to create a caretaker government, with no deadline for this move. The outgoing president has commented repeatedly that he would rather not create a third caretaker government, but most likely he will have to.

As Plevneliev is currently serving the last three months of his term, he does not have the right to dissolve the parliament and schedule early general elections. Radev will take office after the term of the incumbent expires on January 22.

Meanwhile, Borissov pledged that GERB will vote in favour of the results of the national referendum initiated by the popular TV show “Slavi’s Show”. The referendum asked three questions – if the people support introducing a majority electoral system for the election of MPs, introducing mandatory voting for elections and referendums, and setting the annual state subsidies for political parties and coalitions at BGN1 (€0.51) per valid vote received at the last general elections. The support for all three proposals was very strong, with the shares of positive answers being 71.95%, 61.89% and 72.16%, respectively. The prime minister pledged that they will insist that all three votes become part of the legislation.