EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel nominated as Bulgaria’s next PM

EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel nominated as Bulgaria’s next PM
Mariya Gabriel will hold talks with parliamentary parties in an attempt to put together a new government after nomination by Gerb party. / European Commission
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia May 10, 2023

European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel has been nominated for Bulgaria’s prime minister by Gerb-SDS, Gerb’s leader Boyko Borissov said on May 10.

Borissov now plans to hold talks with other parliamentary parties, but so far Gerb has not been able to persuade the other parties in the new parliament — especially the Western-oriented, reformist Change Continues-Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB) coalition — to join forces and back a new government. 

Gabriel, the European commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education, youth and sport, is expected to hold talks with representatives of all parties and coalitions in parliament in an attempt to put together a regular government, Borissov told lawmakers on May 10.

“We warmly welcome the nomination of Mariya Gabriel as prime minister designate of Bulgaria. She has the experience and international authority to overcome the political stalemate in Sofia. Full support for our sister party GERB-SDS for putting the interests of the country first,” Manfred Weber, the leader of the European People’s Party (EPP), wrote on Twitter. Gabriel was vice-president of the EPP group in 2014-2017.

A day earlier, Gerb’s leader said he was about to nominate a strong figure that can meet the current challenges and once again urged the second-largest formation in parliament, CC-DB, to back a new government.

However, on May 10, Daniel Lorer of CC said that Gabriel’s nomination does not change the decision of the coalition not to back a government that is nominated by or with the participation of Gerb. The reformist coalition is reluctant to rule together with Gerb due to several major corruption scandals involving Borissov and key party members.

Lorer said that the name of the candidate for prime minister does not change anything as the coalition does not trust the whole Gerb party, not just some of its members. CC-DB will not nominate ministers in a government led by Gabriel.

The smallest party in parliament, There Are Such People (ITN), also said that it would not back a Gerb-led cabinet until all ministerial candidates are revealed.

Meanwhile, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), seen as an unofficial coalition partner of Gerb for years, approved the nomination but said it also wants to see the proposed formula for a government and its priorities before deciding whether to back it.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) said that Gabriel’s nomination was a mistake by Borissov as it was made before a meeting of the leaders of all parties in parliament.

Borissov has said he would hold such meetings in an attempt to find agreement on a joint government and programme. Despite its criticism, the BSP will meet Gabriel on May 11.

Far-right pro-Russian Vazrazhdane’s leader Kostadin Kostadinov said that his party would not back any government that is not led by Vazrazhdane.