Bulgaria’s new president takes office, prepares to appoint caretaker government

By bne IntelliNews January 23, 2017

Bulgaria's President Rumen Radev and Vice President Iliana Iotova took office on January 22. The new president's team will be presented officially in the week of January 23-29.

After taking office, Radev will appoint a caretaker government, dissolve the parliament and schedule snap general elections that can take place in late March at the earliest. On January 19, Radev told the current parliament that they have one week left, meaning a caretaker government is likely to be appointed by January 27.

Supported by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), former air force commander Radev won the second round of the presidential elections on November 13, defeating the candidate of the ruling centre-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB). On November 14, Prime Minister and GERB leader Boyko Borissov submitted the resignation of the government to the parliament.

Bulgarian media most often mention lawyer and former parliament speaker Professor Ognyan Gerdzhikov as the likely prime minister of the caretaker government. Gerdzhikov told Dnevnik daily that the topic has been discussed with him.

In his speech on January 22, Radev pledged that he would be the president of all Bulgarian citizens, regardless of party affiliation, religion and ethnicity. He added he would be a president of dialogue and reconciliation, cooperation and balance.

The new president said that he will work with the parliament, the government, the institutions, political parties and civil society organisations in a joint effort to find the best solutions for Bulgaria. Radev will also work actively with Bulgaria’s partners to accelerate the country’s European integration. The former air force commander pledged that he would be a president who uncompromisingly defends the rights, interests and dignity of his people.

In an interview with broadcaster BNT, Radev said that he will count on experts when composing the caretaker government. He stressed that the BSP will in no way influence his choice, but this does not mean he rules out bringing in people from the left. The new president commented that it is very important that he keep his independence, objective judgment and freedom to make decisions.

The president is likely to issue the decree appointing the caretaker government and dissolving the parliament on January 27, Dnevnik said. Such timing would enable the holding of early parliamentary elections on March 26, the date proposed by the BSP. An alternative date for the snap vote is April 2.

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