Bulgarian parties edge closer to deal on new government

Bulgarian parties edge closer to deal on new government
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia July 28, 2021

A government backed by the three political newcomers in the Bulgarian parliament — popular showman Slavi Trifonov’s There Are Such People (ITN), Democratic Bulgaria and Stand up.BG! We are Coming! (ISBG) — along with the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) is now looking likely after several days of talks between ITN and other parties that took seats in the July 11 general election. 

Both Democratic Bulgaria and ISBG said on July 28 that ITN must provide guarantees that a potential ITN-led government would not be supported — officially or unofficially — by the former ruling party Gerb or the ethnic-Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) parties if they are to extend their support.

The three anti-establishment parties do not have majority in parliament as together they have 112 MPs out of 240. This means they would need a support from one of the three traditional parties – Gerb, the DPS or the BSP, of which only the BSP is palatable to Democratic Bulgaria or ISBG. 

ITN, which took the largest share of the vote on July 11, invited all the parliamentary parties except Gerb to initial talks. However, after the first meetings, it continued expert talks only with Democratic Bulgaria and ISBG, saying it would not seek support from the DPS.

Although Democratic Bulgaria and ISBG have repeatedly said they do not require ministerial seats to back ITN, they now said they would want a document that would guarantee no influence from Gerb or the DPS in the future government.

Democratic Bulgaria also said it would demand a document that would clearly define the future government’s commitments.

“We insist on clearly announced commitments. We are ready to talk about what the document would look like, how it would be titled and how it would be signed. This is a matter of negotiations. What is important and essential is to have very clearly fixed mutual political commitments so that we can give our vote [for the government],” Democratic Bulgaria’s co-leader Hristo Ivanov said after a meeting with ISBG.

He added that although ITN has repeatedly said it does not want to form a coalition and would count on a floating majority, “in floating majorities the DPS swims the best”.

The DPS has become a synonym of murky deals between politicians and controversial businessmen and has been accused along with Gerb of widespread corruption.

The two formations once again said they do not want ministerial seats in exchange for their support but that they want the future government to be comprised of people with good qualities just like several ministers in the current caretaker government — they singled out the ministers of economy, finance, education and internal affairs — or people who are on their level.

Democratic Bulgaria and ISBG pointed out they are not nominating those ministers, but that they expect the directions and the high standards they have set to be followed.

The caretaker government of Prime Minister Stefan Yanev has gained widespread approved as it had revealed numerous cases of corruption, abuse of office or misuse of funds by the previous government, and has replaced the controversial heads of the state security services and state-owned companies where for years the opposition has pointed to corrupt practices.

Meanwhile, the BSP, which is also in talks with ITN on possible support for the party’s government, has also invited Democratic Bulgaria and ISBG to talks on their positions regarding an ITN-led cabinet.

Ivanov also called on ITN to initiate talks on specific policies between party experts and people who will be nominated as ministers.