GERB Stymies "Patriots'' Hopes of Ruling Bulgaria
GERB’s sudden withdrawal of support from its former coalition partner has dampened the hopes of the nationalist Patriotic Front of forming the next government.
Patriotic front's leaders Krasimir Karakachanov and Valeri Simeonov. Photo: VMRO
GERB vice-president Tsvetan Tsvetanov on Wednesday said the centre-right party had taken this decision after a plenary meeting on Wednesday - and the decision is final.
“We are considering early elections as the most proper conclusion,” Tsvetanov told journalists.
This marked the third recent U-turn by GERB on whether Bulgaria should go into preliminary elections or whether the parties in the current parliament should make a final attempt to form a government.
The crisis started after Boyko Borisov, leader of GERB and now outgoing Prime Minister, decided to resign on November 14, after his party's candidate failed to win the presidential election.On Tuesday, President Rosen Plevneliev called a meeting of all the parties in parliament and tried to convince them to form a new government in an attempt to resolve the standoff.
Bulgaria’s two largest parties, GERB and the Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, had already declared they will not accept a presidential mandate to form a government, and would rather go to elections.
However, Borissov, did not then dismiss the option of supporting one of GERB's ex-coalition partners, the Reformist Bloc, or the Patriotic Front, if they wished to try to form a government.
"Two years ago we offered a coalition to the Reformist Bloc, and to the Patriotic Front as well. They said: ‘We are not joining, we do not want to participate in government, we will just support certain decisions. I owe them the same, should they decide to form a government,” Borissov said on Tuesday.
This apparent offer boosted the hopes of “the patriots”, a coalition of far-right parties - the National Front for Salvation of Bulgaria and VMRO, which recently united with the pro-Russian ATAKA party of Volen Siderov.
Later on Tuesday, Valeri Simeonov, one of PF’s leaders, confirmed that his party would try to form a cabinet and would ask all parties to nominate qualified experts to “save Bulgaria from the difficult situation”.
The nationalist coalition has made significant advances on the back of growing anti-refugee sentiment in Bulgaria. Its presidential candidate, Krasimir Karakachanov, came third in the recent presidential election, winning over 15 per cent of the votes.
GERB explained its decision to withdraw support from a future “patriotic” cabinet with a vote on Wednesday in parliament on the budget for pensions for 2017.
The nationalists had proposed a significant rise in pensions for next year, which unexpectedly gained the support of the BSP but which GERB dismissed as populist nonsense.
“Those are not policies but populist suggestions, aimed at gaining dividends in an electoral campaign,” GERB MP Menda Stoyanova scoffed.
Daniel Smilov, a political analyst at the Center for Liberal Strategies, said while it was clear from the beginning that there would not be a PF-led government, events had “boosted the PF’s profile as a political subject, which is capable of forming a government.
“All factors are to their benefit. I understand their behaviour. I just can’t get the behaviour of GERB,” Smilov noted to BIRN, adding that there are clearly internal rifts inside Bulgaria’s main party.
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