Tensions Rising in Bulgaria's Coalition Govt over 'Political Maverick'

Politics » DOMESTIC | March 18, 2016, Friday // 16:41
Bulgaria: Tensions Rising in Bulgaria's Coalition Govt over 'Political Maverick' Government partners are demanding that Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB) chair Radan Kanev (pictured) decide whether his party is part of the government or in opposition. Photo: BGNES

Tensions are rising between GERB party of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and a party which is a member of the Reformist Bloc, GERB's junior partner in the coalition government, but has been in opposition since December.

The Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB) HAVE sparked controversy with its decision to leave the government, keeping its ministers and remaining a key part of a coalition bloc that is actively involved in the cabinet.

In December, DSB leader Radan Kanev announced he was moving into opposition, but would keep his place in the Reformist Bloc. After a DSB congress days later, he announced the decision would be applied to the entire party. However, Petar Moskov, who was Deputy Chair of DSB, remaied in office as Health Minister.

Kanev since that time has repeatedly threatened to leave the Reformist Bloc, announcing he wwill set up a new right-wing project, but has not yet taken the step.

On Thursday, as Borisov departed for a European Council in Brussels, GERB's lawmakers demanded in a statement that all ministers, officials at state agencies, and other administrative staff affiliated to the Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB) be dismissed.

Speaking from Brussels, the Prime Minister turned down the request.

A day later, however, he accused DSB of shunning responsibility by failing to take a final decision.

"It is not fair when one has made appointments to [the executive] and is not willing to bear responsibility."

Commenting on the developments on Friday, Interior Minister Rumyana Bachvarova, who is also Deputy PM in charge of coalition policies (and oversees dialogue among government partners), called on Kanev to take a stand and choose whether he would like to be in opposition or in the government.

GERB Deputy Chair Tsvetan Tsvetanov (who also heads the group of GERB lawmakers) added the party's lawmakers would raise the issue again at a meeting with Borisov next week, discussing with him the "positions DSB are holding in the executive."

Separately Tsveta Karayancheva who is Tsvetanov's deputy in Parliament, called Kanev and his DSB party "insolent" for both being part of the government and criticizing it.

Vili Lilkov, a municipal councilor from the DSB, said the MPs' statement are aimed at pressuring the party into leaving the Reformist Bloc.

Moves by the DSB have are drawing anger from other Reformist Bloc parties, particularly from Meglena Kuneva, Deputy Prime Minister and head of the Bulgaria of Citizens Movement (DBG) party, one of the three biggest parties in the bloc alongside DSB and SDS.

Economy Minister Bozhidar Lukarski, who chairs the latter party, earlier also voiced skepticism about DSB's "middle" position of claiming to be out of the government while keeping ministers and officials in. 

Kuneva urged the DSB on Friday, in an interview with the Bulgarian National Radio, to state clearly whether it would be part of the government or part of the opposition, in an apparent reference to the DSB's refusal to withdraw its support from Health Minister Moskov and other officials.

Appointments made out of the DSB quota include Minister Moskov, Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev, Deputy Interior Minister Tsvyatko Georgiev, Deputy Energy Minister Nikolay Nikolov, and several heads and deputy heads of government agencies, according to a list read out publicly by GERB MPs on Thursday. Most of the names have been confirmed by DSB officials.

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Tags: Radan Kanev, DSB, Boyko Borisov, GERB, Petar Moskov
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