• Monday, 17 June 2024

Bulgaria facing renewed elections as talks to form government fail

Bulgaria facing renewed elections as talks to form government fail

Sofia, 25 March 2024 (dpa/MIA) - Bulgaria is facing the possibility of its sixth general election in just three years after talks to form a new government cabinet have been called off by deputy Prime Minister Mariya Gabriel.

The 44-year-old former EU commissioner explained in Sofia on Sunday that she was saying "'no' to the constant new conditions" put to her party by her coalition partners.

Gabriel said she and the negotiating team of her pro-Western, centre-right alliance Gerb-SDS were ending coalition-building talks with their coalition partner, the equally pro-Western liberal-conservative PP-DB.

The outgoing government led by Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov had resigned as planned at the beginning of March to enable a rotation of the office of prime minister, as agreed between the government partners in 2023.

Gabriel was set to become head of government and Denkov her deputy. However, according to media reports, both sides have been arguing over picks for key positions.

Gabriel said that she now wanted to withdraw her nomination for the office of prime minister, which had been planned for Monday by parliament. As a result, the cabinet she presented last Tuesday after talks with the PP-DB is unlikely to be voted on.

In a video message on Sunday evening, Denkov, now the caretaker head of government, called on Gerb-SDS to honour the "gentlemen's agreement" made verbally when the government took office in June 2023 regarding a change of head of government.

"Instead of plunging the country into chaos, let's keep our word," Denkov said. The verbal agreement was said to be that individual ministers should only be changed by mutual agreement.

"The negotiations on the formation of the Council of Ministers have shown that there was no mutual agreement on the change of ministers," Denkov said.

The EU country is now facing its sixth general election in half as many years. However, two further government mandates issued by head of state Rumen Radev would have to fail before this is called.

Another parliamentary election could make it more difficult for Bulgaria to introduce the euro on January 1, 2025, experts warn. Bulgaria is due to join the Schengen area without identity checks on March 31 - but only with its air and sea borders for the time being.

MIA file photo