A week to the minute after receiving a mandate from President Roumen Radev to seek to form a government, Plamen Nikolov, the Prime Minister-designate from Slavi Trifonov’s ITN party, presented the proposed structure and members of a Cabinet.
The brief ceremony at 5pm on August 6 followed a day of melodrama and uncertainty, including the withdrawal of Momchil Ivanov from his candidacy to be Justice Minister.
Ivanov withdrew following critical media reports and comments online about abusive comments against “Sorosoids” that he had made on Facebook.
It was during the live broadcast of the ceremony that the name of the latest justice minister-designate became known, Ivo Atanassov, an ITN MP. The afternoon had seen a scramble to seek to name a replacement for Momchil Ivanov.
The meeting with Radev was attended by Nikolov and ITN parliamentary group leader Toshko Yordanov, with Trifonov – as has long become customary – absent and limiting his “public” engagements only to posts on Facebook.
Procedurally, Radev should now table the proposed government in the National Assembly. Should a quorum be confirmed at the sitting, it will require a simple majority for the proposed government to be approved and then sworn into office.
No date for this sitting has yet been announced, but it has been widely expected to be August 11.
As the ceremony at the President’s office proceeded, it remained unclear whether there would be sufficient support for it to be approved.
Talks between ITN and the Bulgarian Socialist Party continued on August 6 at “expert” level on economic and social policies. The BSP said that by the end of the day, it would announce whether talks would continue, while both ITN and the BSP signalled a large degree of convergence on proposed policies.
Commenting on the withdrawal of Momchil Ivanov from his Cabinet candidacy, Democratic Bulgaria coalition co-leader Hristo Ivanov said that this changed nothing and the issue was the fact that Momchil Ivanov had been nominated at all.
Democratic Bulgaria has reiterated over recent days that its constituent parties will make their respective decisions before the coalition announces its stance on the government proposed by ITN.
Nikolai Hadzhigenov of Parliament’s smallest group, “Rise Up Bulgaria! We’re Coming” said that the changes to the proposed government should have gone further.
The group would decide this weekend whether or not to vote in favour of the ITN-nominated government.
The Movement for Rights and Freedoms has made no clear statement, while Boiko Borissov’s GERB-UDF coalition, the second-largest group in the National Assembly, has said that it will vote against the proposed government.