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Nationalist-Tinted Government Takes Power in Bulgaria

Returning centrist premier Borisov may have his hands full as country looks ahead to its EU presidency.

5 May 2017

Bulgaria’s parliament voted yesterday to endorse a coalition government of the center-right GERB party and a loose alliance of three nationalist parties. The incoming government will be closely watched as the country prepares to take over the six-month rotating presidency of the European Council from January 2018.

 

A total of 133 lawmakers voted in favor while 100 voted against the cabinet, ensuring GERB leader Boyko Borisov of a third term as prime minister, national broadcaster BNT reported.

 

Speaking in the parliament, Borisov said healthcare will be a “strategic priority” for his cabinet, along with “Euro-Atlantic integration, incomes and money for education and science,” Bulgarian National Radio reported.


Along with GERB and the three-party rightwing alliance, United Patriots, Borisov’s cabinet was also backed by Volya (Will), the party whose leader Veselin Mareshki (pictured), a pharmacy and petrol tycoon, is a political newcomer.

 

Months after Rumen Radev, a Socialist with strong ties to Russia, was elected president, many eyes will be on the populist, anti-migrant United Patriots, the first far-right group to join a Bulgarian government.

 

Socialist leader Kornelia Ninova, whose party is the second largest in the parliament, lashed out at what she called a “serious departure from the campaign commitments” made by GERB and the United Patriots, and the chairman of the predominantly Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Mustafa Karadayi, hit out at Borisov for nominating United Patriot co-leader Valery Simeonov as deputy prime minister in charge of demographic policy.

 

 

  • The nationalists are bound to have a significant influence in the new government as they secured the ministries of defense and economy and two deputy premierships. They had campaigned vigorously on an anti-immigration and anti-Turkish platform amid rising concerns among voters over an increasingly assertive Turkey, which has repeatedly threatened to scrap the migration deal with the EU.

 

  • In contrast to the premature ends of both his previous administrations, Borisov has vowed this time to remain in power for a full four-year term, despite the coalition’s fragile majority. 

Compiled by Lyubomir Martinov

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