Bulgaria’s PM Denkov tables resignation of government

Bulgaria’s PM Denkov tables resignation of government
MPs are expected to vote on March 6 on the resignation of Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov's government, but the next steps are unclear. / government.bg
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia March 5, 2024

Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov tabled the resignation of his government on March 5 to trigger a rotation with his deputy Mariya Gabriel, which was agreed nine months ago between Change Continues-Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB) and Gerb, the parties backing the government.

After the snap general election in April last year, CC-DB and Gerb – until then fierce opponents – agreed to set aside their differences and back a joint government, led by Denkov in the first nine months and then by Gabriel for another nine months.

As Denkov’s government took office on June 6, he filed its resignation on March 5 to fulfil CC-DB’s part of the agreement. CC-DB insists that the resignation is voted on on March 6 to move forward the procedure for the rotation.

Earlier on March 5, Gerb sent to CC-DB its proposal for an agreement on joint governance over the next three years. The proposal was in response to a memorandum offered by CC-DB in February as starting point for negotiations with Gerb.

At the time, Gerb rejected it, saying it was an attempt by CC-DB to take more power with appointments of heads of key state regulators. CC-DB had proposed an equal quota for each of the two formations in every regulator.

Gerb’s proposal has a three-year term and suggests rotations between Denkov and Gabriel continue. The next rotation should happen after nine months and last 15 months.

It also proposes mechanisms for decision making and cooperation between the two formations and suggests that in cases when a two-thirds majority of MPs is required, other pro-Western formations can be allowed to back the appointments. That opens the door for stronger influence for the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) – the only other party in parliament that claims to have pro-Western orientation.

The proposal sets the completion of the reform of the judiciary as a top priority. Gerb also wants shared responsibility within the government, which would mean that half of the ministers would be from the party. Currently, Gerb’s sole representative in the government is Gabriel, but the party has approved the rest of the ministers. Most of them are not members of CC-DB.

Gerb also demands that Denkov will not become foreign minister after the rotation but Gabriel’s deputy and education minister. On the other hand, CC-DB requires that Denkov and Gabriel make a complete rotation of their positions, which means that Denkov will become foreign minister.

CC-DB welcomed the proposal, saying it is a step towards a constructive dialogue, while Gerb indicated it would be willing to amend the proposal after negotiations with its partner. CC-DB also said in a statement it was pleased that a large part of its proposed memorandum is included in Gerb’s document.