Latest attempt to form government fails in Bulgaria
The second attempt to form a regular government in Bulgaria, with the mandate given to reformist pro-Western Change Continues, failed on January 6 as all parties in parliament except the other reformist pro-Western formation – Democratic Bulgaria – refused to back a declaration with key reforms and priorities for a possible government.
This brings the country closer to new snap vote, which is expected in March, according to earlier indications by President Rumen Radev.
The two formations said they would join forces to seek support for a minority government that would rule the country for one year and implement key reforms amid the deepening economic and political crises in the country. However, in order to propose a government, Change Continues said it would first test whether there would be enough MPs that would back its reforms.
On January 6, the declaration got supports from just 63 MPs – those of Change Continues and Democratic Bulgaria. None of the other five parties backed it, with Gerb and far-right Vazrazhdane voting against, while the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and Bulgarian Ascend abstained.
Following the vote, Nikolai Denkov, who was nominated by Change Continues for prime minister, said he would return the mandate to Radev without proposing a government. Meanwhile, Hristo Ivanov, co-leader of Democratic Bulgaria, called on Change Continues to try to find a way to reach an agreement with Gerb and go ahead with forming a government. However, the chances of such an agreement are slim and the second mandate seems doomed to fail.
If Denkov returns the mandate as expected, Radev will have to pick a party to get the third and final mandate to form a government. Many politicians and analysts suggest he will give the mandate to the smallest party in parliament, Bulgarian Ascend led by his former advisor Stefan Yanev.
There are two possible scenarios if Yanev is given the mandate: one of them is for Gerb, the DPS and the BSP – three parties dubbed the "paper coalition" because they recently joined forces in favour of a return to paper ballots in elections – to enter in formal coalition with Bulgarian Ascend, which would create a majority. The other is to give up forming a coalition and go for a new snap election.
It is still unclear which option the political parties would prefer. Gerb’s leader Boyko Borissov has said several times that the chances for a government are the highest with the third mandate as it would allow political rivals to unite without crossing their red lines and without signing coalition agreements. However, the image of Gerb, DPS and BSP has already suffered from their decision to bring back voting with paper ballots that creates room for electoral frauds.
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