Will pro-Russian forces be able to use new political crisis in Bulgaria?

Wednesday, 3 April 2024

Bulgaria is about to have new parliamentary elections after nine months of coalition rule.

Since April 2021, it has been announced five parliamentary elections in Bulgaria. They could form a government though only on 6 June 2023.

The challenges that hindered the government formation are still there. Read more in the article by Volodymyr-Nazarii Havrish and Serhii Herasymchuk, The Foreign Policy Council Ukrainian Prism – Will Bulgaria become pro-Russian again? Meaning of its another snap elections.

Last year, two blocs agreed that their representatives would alternately lead the government to maintain a balance of power in the government. On one hand, the conservative pro-European bloc GERB-SDS (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria and Union of Democratic Forces), and on the other hand, the liberal pro-European alliance We Continue the Change – Democratic Bulgaria (PP-DB).

They promised each other to rotate after nine months in office, in March 2024.

The first signs of crisis came visible in early February 2024. The dispute within the coalition was about the Prime Minister back then.

According to the agreement between the parties, Deputy Prime Minister Mariya Gabriel (GERB) was supposed to become the new Prime Minister, replacing Nikolay Denkov.

But GERB refused to give up the position of Foreign Minister, as previously agreed.

As a result, GERB could gain even more control over the government.

And, of course, such plans did not suit We Continue the Change – Democratic Bulgaria (PP-DB).

For a while, the situation was on halt, but the crisis received a new impetus in early March, when rotation, as previously agreed, was supposed to take place.

On 6 March, Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov announced his early resignation and called for negotiations on the new government.

On Tuesday, 19 March, when Mariya Gabriel presented her mandate and the government's list to the President, Nikolay Denkov and other, PP-DB representatives were outraged that Gabriel's approved government list with the people who had not been agreed upon during the negotiations between coalition members.

Moreover, some of these people did not even consent to their appointment.

The crisis reached its peak on 26 March, when GERB-SDS refused to use the mandate to form a new government.

And on 27 March, PP-DB did the same.

The country's President, Rumen Radev, exercised his right to discretion and tasked the mission of forming a government to the There Is Such a People parliamentary group. But even they refused this right on 28 March.

On 30 March, the acting Prime Minister became Dimitar Glavchev, the head of the Bulgarian National Audit Office.

He noted that he would form a non-partisan cabinet within a week with a goal to perform duties until parliamentary elections.

Parliamentary elections are set to be held in early June on the same day as the elections to the European Parliament.

Unfortunately, Bulgaria is going through the growth in the popularity of right-wing radical and pro-Russian forces, including the scandalous Revival party, which constantly demonstrates support for Russia and actively promotes the idea of "protecting Bulgarian farmers from Ukrainian grain."

The indicators of the Bulgarian Socialist Party may also increase, whose leader Korneliya Ninova calls for rejecting any military aid to Ukraine.

Fortunately, it is not likely that the openly anti-Ukrainian party Revival will join the coalition.

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