Snap polls in Bulgaria: socialist refuse to form the government

The leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Kornelia Ninova [R] holds consultations in Parliament with GERB leader Boyko Borissov [R].

Bulgaria will have new general elections in the spring, the sixth in the nation in the past two years, after the Socialists abandoned their efforts to create a functioning government on Friday (20 January).

Socialists refused the last time

Following an unresolved election on October 2, the Socialists, who had the third and final opportunity to form a government, claimed they had made a sincere attempt to attract support and had established clear national policies but had been unsuccessful. 

Socialist leader Kornelia Ninova told reporters that her party was looking for a solution to lead the country out of many crises, mainly from the political turmoil. She considered alternatives and chose to give the president the mandate back.

Only the leaders of GERB, the ethnic Turkish MRF party, and the nationalist Bulgarian Rise party came up on Friday when Ninova urged the heads of the other six political parties to come together on four national goals, including effective use of EU aid. 

President Rumen Radev must choose when to dissolve the legislature and designate a date for new elections to occur within two months.

Political background

Since widespread anti-graft protests in 2020, Bulgaria has seen political turmoil. In the lack of a strong elected coalition, the Balkan nation has been led by caretaker technocratic governments for the last two years.

In a gridlocked parliament, the two biggest political parties, the anti-corruption We Continue The Change (PP) and the center-right GERB, have already been unable to secure enough support to establish a functional coalition government.

Both parties have declared they will not support a Socialist-led government. To create a functioning government, they have already tried and failed.

The absence of a functioning government will hamper Bulgaria’s plans to join the eurozone in 2024. It will put off necessary measures to combat high-level corruption and probably won’t allow the EU recovery funds worth billions of euros to be used effectively.

Latest Bulgarian socialists actions

The five socialist MEPs from Bulgaria did not vote in the European Parliament on a motion asking that Russia’s political and military authorities be held accountable for their war crimes against Ukraine on Thursday (19 January). 

According to the MEPs, the atrocities committed by Russian forces in Bucha, Irpin, and other Ukrainian towns show the savagery of the conflict and highlight the need for coordinated international action to bring those responsible to justice by international law.

Even though the relevant MEP is present, skipping a vote rather than voting against it or abstaining is not against the rules of the European Parliament. Still, many view it as a way to avoid accountability. 

When the BSP’s positions clashed with those of the S&D group, Bulgarian socialist MEP Sergei Stanishev, previously the leader of the Party of European Socialists, skipped votes rather than taking a stand.

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