Bulgaria's Biggest Party Divided over Nationalist-Led Cabinet
The prospect of forming a nationalist-led cabinet within the current Parliament has divided opinions in Bulgaria, with the biggest party itself split over the move.
Outgoing Prime Minister Boyko Borisov on Tuesday indicated, during a national security council at the Presidency, that he may support a government of either the Patriotic Front or the Reformist Bloc if any of the coalitions is handed the probe mandate.
President Plevneliev is due to hand the mandate to Borisov's GERB party and then to opposition BSP, but both will return it without trying to set up a new government.
He hinted at the possible choice of the Patriotic Front, a nationalist coalition that backed the outgoing minority government, as the third party to seek a new cabinet. If no party fails to produce a new cabinet then, the country will have an interim government and an early election will be held in the spring.
"I am ready to be Prime Minister," Krasimir Karakachanov, the PF's co-leader and a presidential candidate who came third in the election early this month, said on Monday.
Dimitar Bayraktarov, a lawmaker with the PF, told the Bulgarian National Radio on Wednesday his bloc would seek to work with experts for a comprehensive government. All parties with the exception of the two ethic Turk-dominated ones, the DPS and DOST, will be invited for talks.
Valentin Radev, serving as MP from GERB's faction, told private bTV station his party would back the PF so long as the latter could produce a "sustainable program" to lead Bulgaria through the political crisis. He argued it was not clear whether ministers from the current cabinet would take part in a PF-led government as well. "Nothing is for sure, this is politics," he said.
Parliament Deputy Speaker Dimitar Glavchev, also from GERB's faction, said the party of Borisov believed "it is good for the Bulgarian citizens to preserve [the current Parliament]."
"Maybe we will switch our roles with the Patriotic Front, which until now supported [the executive] without taking part in it. Maybe we will support it the same way now," he told the public broadcaster.
But Vladislav Goranov, outgoing Finance Minister, warned against a move from GERB to back a Patriots-led administration.
"The best solution is to go through elections... It is naïve to think there might be another government within this cabinet. Governance is no joke and no question of arithmetics," he told NOVA TV on Wednesday.
Within the Reformist Bloc, some parties have argued it would be better to keep the "current majority" in place and form a cabinet with GERB and the PF for the next two years until the regular election in 2018.
BSP, the Bulgarian Socialist Party which was the biggest parliamentary opposition to the outgoing cabinet, voiced its objection against any attempts made to form a new cabinet and called for an early election to take place on March 26.
The DPS, Bulgaria's second-largest opposition force, has also urged a snap vote in the spring. For its part DOST party warned a nationalist-led effort to set up a cabinet may constitute a provocation to ethnic peace in a country where ethnic Turks are up to 10% of the population, while several other percent describe themselves as Roma or Bulgarian Muslims.
The PF has not displayed anti-Turkish sentiment per se, but has sought to curb voting of Bulgarian expats living in Turkey and to limit the DPS (and now DOST)'s influence on the Bulgarian political scene.
Volen Siderov, the head of nationalist Ataka party, ruled out becoming a minister in a PF-led cabinet, but argued "the state should not be left without a government in the months to come."
"We have a riot in a refugee camp that could grow into something more dangerous. We have a statement from Turkish President Erdogan, who threatens Europe with a wave of migrants."
Siderov added that if the United Patriots took power they would lift retirement pensions.
The United Patriots is the name of an alliance between the PF and Ataka which jointly raised Karakachanov's bid for President and which vows to keep working together for election purposes.
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