After two years of political crisis marked by five consecutive legislative elections, Bulgaria ended up adopting, on Tuesday June 6, a coalition government bringing together the pro-Western forces of this country deeply divided on the Russian question. The Parliament of Sofia approved by 132 votes out of 201 the nomination of a government supported by the conservative party GERB (for Grazdani za Evropejsko Razvitie na Balgarija – “Citizens for the European Development of Bulgaria”) of former Prime Minister Boïko Borissov and the pro-European centrist forces grouped behind Kiril Petkov’s “Let’s keep changing” movement.
These two forces have long been deeply antagonistic on the subject of the fight against corruption in this country which is the penultimate of the European Union (EU) in this area according to the ranking of the NGO Transparency International. But Mr. Petkov, a 43-year-old former Harvard-educated entrepreneur who entered politics in 2021 promising to end the reign of Mr. Borissov, 63, ended up agreeing with the one who led Bulgaria, during almost eleven years in the 2010s, multiplying the scandals.
The inability of the two camps to form a stable majority despite the succession of elections, associated with the war in Ukraine, finally pushed these two forces, which claim to be pro-Western, to compromise, in the face of an opposition that will be strongly pro-Russian.
“It’s the best we can do” to avoid “a sixth election” after those of April 2 had defended Mr. Petkov, on May 23, at the opening of negotiations. He had then alerted in particular on the rise “pseudo-nationalists” of the pro-Russian Renaissance party, which is progressing with each election, relying on the 32% of Bulgarians who say they still have a perception “positive” Vladimir Putin, according to a poll published on May 31 by the Globsec think tank.
“Electoral treason”, according to Roumen Radev
Located on the shores of the Black Sea and producing – in all discretion – many weapons for Ukraine, this country of 6.5 million inhabitants cultivates a historical, cultural and religious proximity to Moscow, while being part of the EU and NATO. It is of major strategic interest to the Western camp, which behind the scenes supported the formation of this coalition.
On the form, the actors of the new power also refuse the term “coalition”. The government is more like a technical cabinet formed around chemistry professor Nikolai Denkov, 60, who therefore becomes prime minister. This discreet researcher was briefly deputy minister, then minister of education in various governments between 2014 and 2022. “My childhood dream was not to be Prime Minister of a country in serious political and economic crisis and in a divided society”, he admitted to Parliament on Tuesday. Supported by “Let’s continue the change”, he will be replaced in nine months by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the former European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, supported by the GERB.
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