Bulgaria’s Borissov compares himself to Messi as he aims for comeback

Bulgaria’s Borissov compares himself to Messi as he aims for comeback
Scandal-hit former prime minister Boyko Borrissov expects nomination to form government, and says there is “no one better” to lead the country.
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia December 4, 2022

Boyko Borissov, the leader of the largest party in Bulgaria’s new parliament, Gerb, indicated that he would be the party’s nomination for prime minister, assuming it receives a mandate to form a government on December 5.

It is now more than two months since the October 2 general election, but with a fragmented parliament President Rumen Radev delayed giving parties a mandate to form a government.  

Radev finally announced on December 2 that he will give the first mandate on December 5, with Gerb the expected recipient as the largest party in parliament. 

On December 2, local media suggested that the party’s nomination for prime minister would be either Borissov’s deputy, Tomislav Donchev, or Dessislava Atanassova, the leader of the party’s parliamentary group.

However, Borissov dismissed suggestions of another candidate, saying there is “no one better” than himself.

“Gerb has two variants – we have a premier – there is no one better than me, no matter how immodest this sounds,” Borissov said.

“[Football star Lionel] Messi is … 31 [Borissov wrongly claimed the football player is 31 years old, while he is 35] but when he enters [a match] he scores the first goal. Bulgaria has its Messi,” Borissov added.

The 63-year-old former three times prime minister still plays football but not for a professional team.

Gerb has said that it will propose a minority government and seek parliament’s approval for it, though Borissov said it was not his preferred option. 

“Such a minority government is hardly the best thing that can bring stability and understanding [between parties]. Our political elite has not yet matured,” commented Borissov 

The government recently worked with the ethnic-Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) and the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), indicating they are its most likely partners. 

Radev, meanwhile, has been accused by experts and members of the reformist Change Continues and Democratic Bulgaria of intentionally delaying the procedure to help Gerb – once his fiercest opponent.

Even so, the chances of Gerb forming a government with the first mandate are slim. 

The party does not want to enter in formal coalition with the DPS and the BSP, even though the three parties, dubbed the “Paper Coalition” by their critics, recently worked together to amend the electoral law, re-introducing paper ballots in a move seen as opening the way for electoral fraud.

The changes were adopted in a final reading after a 40-hour marathon session in the parliament and despite protests by voters outside the parliament building.

Borissov also reached out to Change Continues and Democratic Bulgaria, proposing a pro-Western coalition, but the two reformist parties are unwilling to work with Gerb because of past corruption scandals.

Kiril Petkov, co-leader of Change Continues, noted that Gerb, the BPS and the DPS worked well together when adopting the electoral law changes. 

“Unless they make a three-party coalition, for which there are signs that it is happening, we are going to [snap general] election with paper ballots,” Petkov said as quoted by Dnevnik news outlet.

Democratic Bulgaria’s co-leader Hristo Ivanov also said that at the moment the most likely ruling coalition seems that between Gerb, the DPS and the BSP. However, Ivanov expects that this coalition will be formed with the third mandate, not the first one, and suggested that it would be given to the smallest party in parliament, Bulgarian Ascend, which is led by Stefan Yanev, a former advisor to Radev. Yanev has repeatedly said he would be willing to form any ruling coalition.

Yanev reiterated he was not ruling out any coalition in the parliament, and that he does not expect to become prime minister.