Bulgarian parliament accepts socialist-led government's resignation

By bne IntelliNews July 24, 2014

Bulgaria's parliament voted on Thursday (July 24) to accept the resignation of the socialist-led government of PM Plamen Oresharski, paving the way for a caretaker cabinet to assume office in August.

The approval of Oresharski's resignation was largely a formality as Bulgaria's main political parties had already agreed to hold snap elections in early October. Lawmakers voted 180 to eight, with eight abstentions, to oust the government.

Oresharski came into power in June 2013 after street protests over high electricity bills toppled the cabinet of centre-right CEDB and led to snap polls.

The outgoing government's time in office was also marred by protests, sparked by corruption allegations. Its fate was sealed after the poor performance of the senior ruling coalition partner, socialist BSP, in May's European Parliament elections, which gave its junior partner, MRF, the leverage to ask for more power. However, BSP refused to give in to MRF's demands and instead embraced the early elections option.

The front-runner to be Bulgaria's next prime minister is CEDB leader Boyko Borissov. CEDB won the May 25 European Parliament elections with 30.4% of the votes, while BSP placed a distant second with 18.9% and MRF was third with 17.3%.

Opinion polls suggest that CEDB will emerge as the largest party in Bulgaria's new parliament but will lack the votes to win an outright majority. There is speculation that if Borissov decides to form a coalition government in order to enjoy bigger political stability, he would prefer to partner with MRF.

Experts predict that the October snap polls will yield a fragmented parliament, with up to 6 parties entering the 240-seat assembly. Some political analysts give MRF the second place, leaving third the ailing BSP. Other parties that are expected to pass the 4% threshold are the rightist Reformist Bloc, leftist ABV, and the recently established populist Bulgaria without Censorship, which has been hit by internal scandals this week.

The deficits in the energy and the healthcare sectors, Bulgaria's stance on the South Stream natural gas pipeline, the construction of another nuclear power unit, and the crisis at Corporate Commercial Bank will be among the key items on the new government's agenda.

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