Bulgaria – New govt approved and a new period of cohabitation? (Amended)

In Bulgaria a new government has been approved.

The general election earlier this month led to the incumbent GERB government receiving the highest number of seats of any party in the legislature – 97/240. However, only four parties were returned to parliament and none of the other three were willing either to form a coalition with GERB or to support a minority GERB government in parliament.

The mandate to form a government, therefore, moved to the second largest party, the BSP. The BSP proposed a minority government containing three MRF ministers and a number of ‘experts’. The BSP had the support of 84 deputies. The MRF party has 36 seats. So, the government has the support of 120 seats in the 240-seat legislature.

In this context, the proposed minority government was presented to the Bulgarian parliament today. There were two issues. The first was whether there would be a quorum to allow a vote on the new government. The constitution requires at least 121 deputies to be present for a quorum. GERB announced yesterday that they would not be present. This meant that whether or not there could be a vote on the government was a function whether the fourth party in parliament, the nationalist Ataka party with its 23 deputies, would turn up to vote. If they did not, then there would be no vote on the government. In the end, one Ataka deputy was present, ensuring a quorum.

The second issue was then the vote on the proposed government. At this point, GERB deputies did take their seats. The subsequent vote was 119 in favour and 98 against with Ataka abstaining. The political effect of GERB’s position was to allow it claim that the socialist BSP-led government was only voted in with the support of the far-right, nationalist Ataka party.

Whatever the politics of the situation, the net result is that Bulgaria has a new government. However, it is a cohabitation government, or at least it might be classed as such. This is because President Rosen Plevneliev of GERB took office in January 2012 and GERB is not represented in government. That said, PM Plamen Oresharski is an independent, even though he is associated with the BSP. Therefore, even though the president’s party is not in government, the PM is not formally from a party opposed to the president. This does beg the question of whether this should be classed as a ‘true’ period of cohabitation. For now, I have not updated the list of cohabitations in Bulgaria.

In any case, the current government faces a dual dilemma. It does not have a majority in parliament. Instead, it will rely both on the continuing support of MRF and the continuing abstention of Ataka. Even if it maintains its current position in parliament, the BSP government still runs the risk of its legislation being vetoed by the president.

In this context, the chances of the legislature lasting a full five-fouryear term are probably small.

3 thoughts on “Bulgaria – New govt approved and a new period of cohabitation? (Amended)

  1. max

    The Bulgarian legislation full term is only four years but you are right that they would probably not last as long. The problem comes from the Constitutional requirement that a vote of non confidence is supported by 121 members of the parliament, and since MFR has its three ministers in the new government it will hardly vote against it. So even if the largest and smallest parties join hands still they cant topple the government. As for the Prime Minister he is independent in the sense that he is not a member of a party but he was elected on the BSP ballot and cohabitation is indeed a valid look on the current situation, especially with the intended reduction of the Presidential powers to nominate a head of the National Security Agency.

  2. Robert Elgie

    Thanks a lot for the comment. Would you please confirm the MRF members of the government and whether they are deputies?

  3. max

    Yes, the three MRF ministers are as follows:
    Sports Minister -Mariana Georgieva was second on the ballot list for MRF, but did not gain a seat in the Assembly. (Lovech region)
    Minister of Labour and Social Affairs- Hasan Ademov was leader of the MRF ballot list in his constituency. (Razgrad region)
    Minister of Environment and Water- Iskra Mihaylova was second on the ballot list in Pazardzhik.
    However in accordance with the law all ministers lose their deputy seats after they become members of the government and the next person on the party list in their constituency gains the seat in the legislature.


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