News Column

Bulgarian Parliament Accepts Government's Resignation

Feb. 21, 2013

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevenliev on Thursday urged the parties in parliament to agree to form a new government in the wake of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's resignation.

"Bulgaria needs functioning institutions," he said in a televised address to the nation.

Borisov, 53, tendered the resignation of his cabinet on Wednesday following violent protests over his government's austerity policies. Lawmakers in parliament voted in favour of the resignation 209-5 on Thursday.

Shortly after the vote, Plevenliev said that he plans to open talks with all parliamentary parties on Friday to discuss a possible new cabinet and avoid dissolving the parliament.

It remains unclear which parties would participate in a caretaker government. Borisov said his conservative GERB party will not participate, as did opposition Socialist leader Sergey Stanishev, who was prime minister from 2005-09.

If parties fail to agree on a new government, Plevenliev will appoint a caretaker prime minister, dissolve the legislature and schedule snap polls.

Parliamentary elections had been due in July, but may now be moved forward by several months, with local analysts tipping a late April date.

Owing to measures such as the freezing wages and pensions, Bulgaria had a budget deficit of just 0.5 per cent of gross domestic product in 2012, earning praise from partners in the European Union.

But Bulgarians have grown bitter over failed expectations from their EU accession in 2007 - they remain by far the poorest in the bloc, with an average wage barely topping 500 dollars and even smaller pensions.

Protests began last week over increased electricity bills, with demonstrators quickly turning their anger at the government and demanding Borisov's resignation.

After two consecutive nights of clashes between protesters and police in Sofia, Borisov shocked the country by saying that his cabinet would rather step down than fight its own people.

GERB and Borisov swept the Stanishev's Socialists from power in 2009 elections, promising to stomp out corruption and improve the standard of life. The Socialists now lead GERB in opinion polls.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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