Bulgarian PM Boyko Borissov today (4 November) blamed the Bulgarian Socialist Party for asking for a non-confidence vote at a time when the country is preparing to take up the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU.
The BSP leader Kornelia Ninova announced that her force will start talks with the parliamentary groups of the Movement of Rights and Freedoms (DPS) and of Volya, the groups of maverick businessman Vesselin Mareshki, for a no-confidence vote in the Borisov cabinet. BSP proposes that the vote would be over corruption. According to her, the vote could be over corruption in healthcare, education, regional development or other spheres, as there were clear examples everywhere.
The talks will begin next week and will be held in the National Assembly, she said.
The decision to open talks with the other parliamentary forces for a no-confidence vote was taken by the BSP Congress last Saturday. The Socialists plan to hold the vote in early January, when Bulgaria will hold the EU presidency. According to Ninova, the presidency could not justify the corruption that swirled in the state.
On Wednesday, DPS agreed that corruption was a serious topic of no-confidence vote.
48 signatures are required to cast a no-confidence vote. BSP has 80 MPs, so there is no need for the support of the other political forces for obtaining the vote. But for the motion to be successful 121 votes out of 240 MPs are needed. Even with the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and Volya, the total ballot would count 118, 3 votes short of victory.
Speaking in Buras today, Borissov said that a vote of no-confidence was the right of any opposition, but questioned “why now?”
“If (BSP) are nationally responsible, they should not do it now. A vote of no-confidence is called when you expect it to pass, not just for parading. If we assume that they expect it to pass, this means that we will be without a government during the EU presidency”, Borissov said.
Former caretaker PM Ognyan Gerdzikov also criticised the BSP push for a no-confidence vote. He said that there was very little chance that such a vote would pass.
Since her election in May 2016 Ninova has been spearheading a more confrontational style with Borissov, compared to previous BSP leaders in the 8 years since he dominates Bulgaria’s political life. But she has herself issues with the old guard, which she has largely eliminated from the command positions.
There have been several cases when governments have fallen during their country’s EU Presidency. In the middle of the Czech Presidency, in March 2009, the then PM Mikek Topolanek lost a no-confidence vote and continued the Czech stint as caretaker PM. During the Belgian Presidency in April 2010 the then PM Yves Leterme resigned after a key Flemish party, the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats, withdrew its support for the coalition government. After that Belgium set a record for a country without an elect government, but in any case the Belgian Presidency was largely seen as successful.
Borissov may not fear for the vote itself, but such a showdown is always preceded by a debate in Parliament, which would not be to the taste of Borissov, at a time when indeed the international interest for Bulgaria would be at its peak.
There have been several cases of corruption and nepotism by GERB officials uncovered by BSP MPs recently. One of them is Elena Yontcheva, a former journalist. GERB replied by highlighting similar cases of nepotism by BSP officials. And the minister of health Nikolay Petrov abruptly resigned, over what is believed to be a corruption affair.
Bulgaria Minister Resigns in Procurement Scandal – Health Minister Nikolay Petrov resigned on Monday, following… https://t.co/EMTOqw8XCv
— Balkan Insight (@BalkanInsight) October 31, 2017
Borissov commented in his standard way. ”The thief crieth holding the thief
”, he said, repeating a joke he has said many times, about Hell, where there are no devils needed to keep the Bulgarian boiling, because each time one of them raises its head, another Bulgarian puts it back to boil.
Seen today, the no-confidence vote seems inoffensive. But Borissov realizes that many things could be different by January. Ninova has nothing to lose. And everything to win.
Moreover, PDS leader Mustafa Karadaya said yesterday that the presence of nationalists in Borissov’s cabinet is “mining the European future of Bulgaria”, adding that his force takes the course of “de-structuring the coalition”.
Although on the suface Borissov has succeeded in “taming the shrewd”, with reference to the three nationalist forces in his coalition, DPS doesn’t see it this way.
The Bulgarian Presidency will be everything but boring.