Rumen Radev, the President of Bulgaria, entrusted Mariya Gabriel with the authority to form a new government on the same day that she resigned as the EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, and Culture.
Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the Commission, accepted Gabriel’s resignation and congratulated her for her efforts while urging her to apply her expertise with the EU in her native country.
President Borissov invited Gabriel back to Bulgaria
Boyko Borissov, the head of the GERB party, took the initiative to bring Gabriel back into Bulgarian domestic politics to break the cycle of failure to create a sustainable government following Bulgaria’s five recent elections.
Despite having 69 MPs in the 240-seat Parliament, the GERB party, which won the 2 April elections, needs assistance finding allies to form a government.
“I will do everything possible for Bulgaria to have a stable, working, consistent government. For this, my proposal will be for an expert government, united around clear priorities that have one goal – the well-being of Bulgarians and the authority of Bulgaria,” said Gabriel as reported by Euractiv.
Gabriel and the GERB party lack allies for the coalition
While acknowledging that Gabriel’s task will be challenging, Bulgarian President Radev stated that he had given her a week to come up with a proposal for a composition of the government.
In terms of their different plans for a government, GERB and the second political formation, the pro-European coalition Change Continues-Democratic Bulgaria (PP-DB), are now at odds.
The PP-DB has indicated again that they will not back a GERB-nominated administration. As a result, it seems highly improbable that Gabriel would get assistance from PP-DB.
Gabriel held coalition talks with several parties
To discover alternatives for parliamentary support, Gabriel visited with representatives of three other parties in Parliament: the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), the Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms, which is primarily comprised of ethnic Turks, and the populist “There is such a people.”
Following the negotiations, the socialist party’s head, Kornelia Ninova, declared that the BSP was pulling out of talks to form a government with the GERB’s support and would not back it in a vote in Parliament.
The party’s support was not unequivocal, as the populist ITN pointed out.
Only DPS made it plain that it supported Gabriel’s aims and would contribute its professionals to the project.
If GERB had to rely just on DPS and ITN, all three groups would have an overall 116 MPs, five short of the majority required. In hypotheses, they might still elect a government if a few MPs of the opposite camp miss the voting session.
If GERB fails, the mandate will go to the PP-DB party
The biggest political party receives the first mandate under the Bulgarian Constitution. A GERB cabinet must be formed within seven days. The second mandate will go to PP-DB if efforts to establish a government are unsuccessful or Parliament rejects the proposed cabinet.
The President will grant a final mandate to a party of his choosing if the two previous fail. Rumen Radev would need to dissolve the Parliament and call early elections if the third effort failed.
The election campaign exposed a controversy involving Russian meddling. Attempts to promote anti-Western narratives and arguments against anti-Russian sanctions were pushed by pro-Moscow groups. Pro-Kremlin forces, however, failed in the election.