Opposition lawmakers file no-confidence motion against Bulgaria’s government

Opposition lawmakers file no-confidence motion against Bulgaria’s government
By Dimitar Koychev February 11, 2016

Sixty-nine Bulgarian MPs filed a no-confidence motion against prime minister Boyko Borissov’s government on February 11, accusing it of failing to provide adequate healthcare to the population.

This will be the first no-confidence vote against the current coalition government that is led by Borissov’s centre-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) and has been in office since November 2014. In order to be successful, the motion has to be supported by 121 lawmakers in the 240-seat assembly, which will be extremely difficult despite recent tensions between GERB and its junior partner the Reformist Bloc.

The document was signed by all 38 MPs from the opposition Socialist Party (BSP) and 29 out of 30 MPs from the predominantly ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), as well as by two independent lawmakers, Dnevnik daily reported. The only member of the DPS not to sign the motion, controversial businessman Delyan Peevski, was abroad at the time..

Hasan Ademov from DPS claimed that the current health policy is harmful because many insured people do not have access to healthcare. He cited barriers related to the national health map, as well as limits on funding for hospitals. He added that there are further problems with policy on medicines.
BSP leader Mihail Mikov criticised the current health care policy for promoting the entry of private businesses to the sector.

The parliament’s vote is expected to take place on or before 18 February.

The government is not expected to lose the vote, even though 10 of the 23 lawmakers in the Reformist Bloc moved into opposition after a vote on judicial reform in December.

Borissov’s GERB has 84 MPs, while while the Reformist Bloc now accounts for 13 members of the ruling coalition, and its third member – the left-wing Alternative for Bulgarian Revival (ABV) has 11 lawmakers. The nationalist Patriotic Front that usually supports the government has a further 18.

There are two more groups in the parliament – the Bulgarian Democratic Centre (14 MPs), nationalist Ataka (11), as well as 11 independent lawmakers.

Bulgaria’s health minister Petar Moskov comes from the ranks of Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB), one of the five parties in the Reformist Bloc. In December, DSB decided to withdraw its support for the government amid a deepening dispute over judicial reform. However, Moskov did not resign. He remained a DSB member but left his post of deputy party chairman.

Borissov has previously warned of the risks of early elections. In January, he said that forming a new government after early elections would be exceptionally difficult.

More than a year after it took office, GERB remains very popular, judging from its exceptionally strong performance during the local elections in October and November.

The current government’s performance has been mixed. In the area of budget and finance, the government managed to reduce the budget deficit to a (still preliminary) 2.5% of GDP in 2015 from 5.8% of GDP in 2014. The economy also performed relatively well in 2015.

However, in the area of judicial reform and the fight against corruption and organized crime its performance was poor, judging from the latest report of the European Commission under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) released in January.

GERB is now in power for the second time; its first government, when it ruled without coalition partners, was in power from July 2009 to March 2013.