Bulgaria’s GERB finds first coalition partner

By bne IntelliNews October 17, 2014

bne -


Boiko Borisov’s GERB party, which took the largest share of the vote in Bulgaria’s elections on October 5, has struck a coalition deal with the nationalist Patriotic Front. However, GERB still needs to bring at least one other party on board to form a majority in the new parliament. 

After lengthy talks on October 16, GERB and the Patriotic Front coalition said they had agreed to work together in the new government. The PF also agreed to support Borisov as prime minister. 

This gives GERB the 19 seats held by the Patriotic Front - comprising the Bulgarian National Movement (VMRO) and the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB) -  in addition to the 84 seats that it holds, meaning Borisov will need to find at least another 18 seats for a majority in the 240 seat national assembly. 

“In terms of the political framework we managed to agree on all points,” GERB's Rumyana Buchvarova said after the talks, according to Novinite.

Striking the deal with the Patriotic Front was good news for GERB, which the previous day had failed to make headway in talks with the Reformist Bloc, the rightwing coalition considered to be its most likely ally in government. 

Six hours of talks on October 15 ended with no agreement between the two parties, and the GERB delegation expressing frustration with the Reformists. Writing on his Facebook page after the talks, Borisov slammed the Reformist Bloc as “ill-prepared” and "an unstable coalition partner". "I am extremely dissatisfied with the Reformist Bloc's preparation for today’s consultations,” he wrote. 

Since this is only the first round of talks, an agreement between the two may well be reached in later rounds, as the Reformists may be holding out for a stronger position with a GERB-led coalition government. However, there are differences in both policy and personality that will make this difficult. 

"The natural ally for GERB is the Reform Bloc, which shares many points of their platform, but there is a very strong animosity between the parties’ leaders," says a report from the Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW). "The Reform Bloc ... are traditionally reluctant to engage with Borisov, as he has taken over the centre-right electorate." Other areas of conflict include the South Stream gas pipeline project and the expansion of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant. 

So far, GERB has reached out to all seven of the parties with parliament seats, though unsurprisingly talks with the second and third largest parties - the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and its former coalition partner the Movement For Rights and Freedoms (MRF) - ended without agreement. 

The deal with the Patriotic Front confirms forecasts that, with the BSP and MRF out of the running, Borisov would have to search among Bulgaria’s far right and nationalist fringe parties to put together a coalition. Tim Ash of Standard Bank forecast after the vote that forming a new government would be “acutely difficult” for GERB, which faces “some unpalatable choices, including an alliance with nationalist parties which might strain relations with some of Bulgaria's Western allies.”

The Patriotic Front "seems willing to enter into a coalition, but its nationalistic rhetoric may raise tensions with Bulgaria’s neighbours and the EU," agrees OSW's report. 

The October 5 elections were Bulgaria’s second early elections in under two years. The previous government under technocrat prime minister Plamen Oresharski was shaky from the beginning - the former communist BSP and the mainly ethnic Turkish MRF held exactly half the parliament seats, relying on the extreme nationalist Ataka party for support. The coalition finally disintegrated after a disastrous performance in the May European Parliament elections.

Hopes that the October 5 election would produce a more stable coalition were not high, as polls in the run up to the election were already forecasting a fragmented parliament, A GERB-led coalition with a substantial majority would enable the new government to make reforms, in particular to stimulate economic growth - on October 8 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its 2014 growth forecast for Bulgaria from 1.6% to 1.4%, while also lowering its 2015 growth forecast. 

Related Articles

Macedonia kept on hold as Balkans edges towards EU goal

Clare Nuttall in Bucharest -   Macedonia’s EU accession progress remains stalled amid the country’s worst political crisis in 14 years, while most countries in the Southeast Europe region have ... more

Austria's Erste rides CEE recovery to swing to profit in Jan-Sep

bne IntelliNews - Erste Group Bank saw the continuing economic recovery across Central and Eastern Europe push its January-September financial results back into net profit of €764.2mn, the ... more

CEE leaders call for Nato troops to help deter Russian aggression

bne IntelliNews -   Central and Eastern European leaders blasted Russian "aggression" on November 4 and called for Nato to boost its presence in the region. The joint statement, issued at an ... more

Register here to continue reading this article and 2 more for free or 12 months full access inc. Magazine and Weekly Newspaper for just $119/year.

If you have already registered, enter the information below with the same email you used previously and you will be granted immediate access.

IntelliNews Pro subscribers click here

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address. A confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

Thank you for purchasing a bne IntelliNews subscription. We look forward to serving you as one of our paid subscribers. An email confirmation will be sent to the email address you have provided.

To continue viewing our content you need to complete the registration process.

Please look for an email that was sent to with the subject line "Confirmation bne IntelliNews access". This email will have instructions on how to complete registration process. Please check in your "Junk" folder in case this communication was misdirected in your email system.

If you have any questions please contact us at sales@intellinews.com

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and magazine

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and monthly magazine, the leading source of business, economic and financial news and commentary in emerging markets.

Your subscription includes:
  • Full access to the bne content daily news and features on the website
  • Newsletters direct to your mailbox
  • Print and digital subscription to the monthly bne magazine
  • Digital subscription to the weekly bne newspaper

IntelliNews Pro subscribers click here

bne IntelliNews
$119 per year

All prices are in US dollars net of applicable taxes.

If you have any questions please contact us at sales@intellinews.com

Register for free to read bne IntelliNews Magazine. You'll receive a free digital subscription.

If you have already registered, enter the information below with the same email you used previously and you will be granted immediate access.

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address. The confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

IntelliNews Pro offers daily news updates delivered to your inbox and in-depth data reports.
Get the emerging markets newswire that financial professionals trust.

"No day starts for my team without IntelliNews Pro" — UBS

Thank-you for requesting an IntelliNews Pro trial. Our team will be in contact with you shortly.