Bulgaria’s government led by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov not surprisingly survived its first no-confidence motion after getting support from a majority of MPs.
The motion was filed by the main opposition party, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), and was doomed to fail as Borissov’s government has a comfortable majority to support it in parliament.
131 MPs voted against the motion, which was filed on the topic of corruption, while 103 MPs supported it. The margin was narrower than expected as the motion was backed during the vote by the ethnic-Turk Movement for Rights and Freedom (DPS), which had previously indicated it would support the government.
As with earlier confidence votes during his previous two governments, Borissov did not turn up at the parliament for the debate or the vote, which angered the BSP. One of the party’s MPs, Valeri Zhablyanov, demanded the prime minister’s attendance for the vote at least, claiming that his absence proves that the low assessment of his work is correct.
However, the leader of the parliamentary group of Borissov’s Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB), Tsvetan Tsvetanov, explained that Borissov was on his way to Davos, and was “executing his international obligations”.
In the motion, BSP said that the government has failed to fight high-level corruption. The party’s leader Kornelia Ninova said that Borissov had been informed about corruption in the collection of excise duties and VAT, but had failed to take any measures to stop it.
Ninova claimed that Borrissov had been hiding the information since his previous government was in office, and called it proof that corruption has been protected at top level. The prosecution has begun an investigation based on the BSP’s information.
Although the vote had no chance of succeeding, the BSP decided to use the start of Bulgaria’s chairmanship of the European Council to gain popularity and put the government on the spot. Borissov has been facing hard times since the beginning of the year due to numerous protests that coincided with the official start of Bulgaria’s the chairmanship. Many people believe it will be easier get what they want in the first half of this year as Borissov is desperate to secure peace and stability.
In a report on Bulgaria in January 2017, the European Commission once again noted that the country had failed to make any significant progress in the battle against graft in the past 10 years. This has resulted in a lack of trust in the judicial system among Bulgarian citizens. Since then, Borissov's government has passed several legislative changes, aiming to persuade the EU it has made serious progress in the fight against corruption. However, the EC noted in its November CVM report that although Bulgaria has put a lot of effort into adopting several laws, the government has failed in terms of transparency.
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