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site.btaDay 2 of President's Consultations with Parliamentary Groups on Potential Government Formation

Day 2 of President's Consultations with Parliamentary Groups on Potential Government Formation
Day 2 of President's Consultations with Parliamentary Groups on Potential Government Formation
Vazrazhdane representatives entering for cabinet formation consultations with President Rumen Radev, June 25, 2024 (BTA Photo)

Tuesday was day two of President Rumen Radev's meetings with the parliamentary groups as a step towards the formation of a government. Radev met with representatives of Vazrazhdane and BSP for Bulgaria. The key takeaway from the talks is that according to Vazrazhdane Kostadin Kostadinov, it is possible to form a majority government backed by 125 MPs from groups other than GERB and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) in the 240-seat Parliament. Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) acting leader Atanas Zafirov said that socialists are ready to actively participate in negotiations with all political forces in Parliament on forming an expert nationally responsible Bulgarian government, in case BSP for Bulgaria gets the third government forming mandate. 

The first two government mandates are bound to go to the two largest groups in Parliament, first to GERB-UDF and then, if it fails, to MRF. Under the Constitution, if they fail to form a government, the President mandates a third parliamentary group at his discretion. If it fails too, a caretaker government is appointed and parliamentary elections are scheduled within two months.

Opening the meeting with Vazrazhdane, Radev said the low voter turnout had put to the test the political parties and the legitimacy of all institutions. He asked the MPs about possible ways to deal with voter apathy. He also asked Vazrazhdane to comment on GERB-UDF's statement they were ready to propose a minority government if they failed to achieve a majority in Parliament. Kostadinov was adamant that his party would not back a minority government nominated by GERB, adding that Vazrazhdane was not afraid of new elections and even wanted them in the autumn.

Kostadinov also said that if the two largest groups, GERB-UDF and MRF, failed to form a government, Vazrazhdane would accept the third mandate and talk with the parliamentary groups except those two on the formation of a broad-based government with a consensual prime minister. He said voter apathy and the low turnout were partly due to GERB and MRF, which he said were "a very serious problem in the functioning of the Bulgarian political system". He said Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB) supporters obviously could not forgive the coalition's collaboration with GERB and MRF.

For his part, Radev said the 125-seat majority referred to by Kostadinov lost 38 MPs on Monday after CC-DB said they would not back a government proposed by Vazrazhdane due to insurmountable differences. The President suggested that since Vazrazhdane want to get the third mandate, they could talk with the political forces about forming a coalition against GERB and MRF. "Once we see the results, we can discuss the matter," the President said, adding that he hoped to be familiarized with the outcome.

The President also asked if the party would seek a majority or a government involving the smallest group, Velichie, which Vazrazhdane claimed was under foreign influence. Kostadinov replied that their proposal was a stress test of the Bulgarian political system to see whether the masks were falling off after all parties stated during the election campaign that they would not run the country with GERB and MRF.

Kostadinov on possible coalition against GERB, MRF

After the meeting with Radev, Kostadinov told reporters Vazrazhdane had talked with ranking members of CC-DB and it was up to them to decide if they will back a coalition against GERB and MRF. "We have extended a hand," he said. Either CC-DB accept the option of a joint cabinet of consensual figures against GERB and MRF, in the name of Bulgaria, or they give power to GERB and MRF, he said.

With 38 MPs each, Vazrazhdane and CC-DB rank third in Parliament.

Right now, there will either be a government which will exclude GERB and MRF and will normalize the political system at least partly, or GERB and MRF will form a government which will "turn off the power" of the political system, Kostadinov said.

He said MRF would be the leading partner in a coalition with GERB. "MRF creates separate enclaves where the police, the prosecuting magistracy, the court and the municipal authorities are in their hands. If this is multiplied at the national level, it will be end of the Republic of Bulgaria."

"From the very beginning, when we said we wanted the third mandate, we stated the formula for success. When two political parties argue, the arbiter is the Bulgarian people. When there are different opinions, it is the Bulgarian people who give preference to one or the other. Between elections, this is done through referendums. That is why the best functioning political systems are those which regularly hold referendums to reduce confrontation," said Kostadinov.

CC-DB deny having had Cabinet talks with Vazrazhdane

CC-DB Bulgaria Tuesday denied to have had talks on a government with Vazrazhdane. "Nobody from the Continue the Change - Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB) coalition has had talks on government formation with representatives of the Vazrazhdane party," CC-DB said in a Facebook post after Vazrazhdane leader said that they "have talked with ranking members of CC-DB and it was up to them to decide if they will back a coalition against GERB and MRF".

"CC-DB is a pro-European and anti-corruption coalition. At yesterday's consultations with the President, CC-DB Floor Leader Nikolay Denkov said unequivocally that the coalition cannot enter into talks on shared governance with the Vazrazhdane party due to the diametrically opposed views the two political entities have on the path of Bulgaria's development," the post further read.

The acting leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Atanas Zafirov, told Radev that his party can either just settle into the comfortable role of opposition and statically observe the current difficult political situation in the country from the sidelines or "try to participate in these processes by being realistic and being aware of the results of these elections."

Zafirov pointed out that the BSP would try to be a "conductor of dialogue". 

"Our collective bodies are adamant that we cannot participate in any form of governance with GERB," he underlined.

Speaking with the Socialist delegation, the President said that several possible approaches to solving the political jigsaw in Bulgaria has taken shape during the consultations thus far: from a minority government, as the first mandate-bearer expressed his intention after failing to form a sufficiently pronounced majority in Parliament, through an expert government to a clear anti-GERB-MRF (Movement for Rights and Freedoms) coalition.

Radev asked if BSP would support any of these options or if the party was ready to present a more ambitious plan if the third mandate came to fruition. 

He acknowledged that despite the challenging moment the BSP finds itself in, they are the oldest party in the legislature. The President was referring to ongoing turbulences in the party leadership.

Later on Tuesday, Zafirov told journalists that in case his group is given the third government-forming mandate, BSP is ready to actively participate in negotiations with all political forces in Parliament on forming an expert nationally responsible Bulgarian government.

The third mandate is not yet on the agenda, the BSP acting leader said. “If it comes to a third mandate, we will gather our collective bodies, hold a dialogue within the party and take the relevant decisions”, Zafirov added.

Asked whether he expects some of the BSP MPs to vote for a government of GERB-UDF and the Movement for Right and Freedoms, Zafirov said that he does not expect a split and assured that the BSP parliamentary group is homogeneous and united.

Regarding possible support for a government with the first and second mandate, Zafirov recalled that a decision was made at the party's National Council not to support a government with the first and second mandate and it has not been changed.

On Monday the President met with representatives of the three largest groups: GERB-UDF, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) and Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB). The key takeaway from the talks is that GERB is skeptical about the formation of a Cabinet and its leader Boyko Borissov mentioned a minority government of GERB as an option. MRF reconfirmed support for a GERB government and CC-DB remained determined to be in opposition.

Concluding meetings

Radev will conclude his consultations with the parliamentary groups of the 50th National Assembly on Wednesday, his Press Secretariat said. Radev will be meeting with representatives of There Is Such a People (TISP) at 11 a.m., and with MPs of Velichie at 1 p.m.

/YV/

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By 03:01 on 20.07.2024 Today`s news

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