How the Bulgarian election will play a part in the Ukraine war

Bulgarian parliament formally approved an interim government that will be in place until a snap parliamentary election and regular European elections in June. 

It will be the country’s sixth national election in almost three years.

Dimitar Glavchev, the appointed prime minister, is a member of Boyko Borisov’s, centre-right GERB party.

Former Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov

“Our main task is precisely to organise fair elections. I have accepted the full responsibility and role assigned to me by the constitution to propose a government. I have the confidence of the people I have elected. I also put my trust in them. We must be the guarantor of stability,” Glavchev said during a press conference.

The temporary government is formed by the GERB and the Turkish minority’s main party, the liberal centrists of DPS, which is affiliated to Renew Europe in the EU Parliament.

Glavchev has appointed Kalin Stoyanov as a minister of interior, a highly divisive figure among Bulgarians. Stoyanovhas been condemned by the public for his alleged mismanagement during a protest of football fans last November, which has been marked by police brutality. 

Amid the critics, the Bulgarian president, Rumen Radev, said he is not involved in the selection of ministers of the interim government. “It should be clear that the Prime Minister Glavchev will govern the country with his ministers, not me. And he has the right in this situation to choose his team, and I respect that right,” Radev said. He went on to say, that if he were in charge of appointing a temporary government, he would not have appointed Minister Kalin Stoyanov. 

Kiril Petkov, left, co-leader of the We Continue the Change party, receives a mandate to form a new government from Bulgarian President Rumen Radev,

President Radev is a supporter of former Prime Minister Kirill Petkov’s We Continue the Change Party, a liberal movement critical of the current interim government. 

According to an exclusive IPSOS/EURONEW poll on voting intentions, Bulgarians slightly favour the governing GERB party. We Continue the Change Party is in second place, while the pro-Russian far-right party, Renaissance, is in third. 

The previous Bulgarian government was dissolved after the resignation of We Continue the Change Prime minister Nikolay Denkov on 5 March, nine months after taking office. 

Denkov was appointed following an agreement between the country’s two main political rivals: GERB and We Continue the Change. His successor, Maria Gabriel, withdrew her nomination, after what was supposed to be an agreed government rotation. 

Maria Gabriel, the prime minister-designate under a power-sharing deal by the two main political parties

According to Gabriel, a member of the GERB party, she refused to take on the role amid a lack of consensus within the cabinet. The government was supposed to create an anti-corruption set of reforms set to comply with the urgent requests of the European Union. Yet, the two rivalling political partners couldn’t come to an agreement.

In 2020, Bulgaria was shaken by mass anti-corruption protests. Therefore, the then Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, was forced to resign. After these rallies the Bulgarian political leadership couldn’t produce any reform bringing the country into a spiral of political instability.

Protesters wave Bulgarian and EU flags as they take part in anti-governmental protest in downtown Sofia on Monday, July 13, 2020

Bulgaria has been one of Moscow’s closest allies in the EU. Pro-Russian President Radev has been widely accused of being pro-Russian by his opponents. He has condemned Ukraine on the war with Russia but has also refused to provide aid to Kyiv. 

There are fears that the current instability could bolster the presence of nationalist and pro-Russian parties, deepening the rift.

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