Bulgaria risks the fourth national elections in April 2021 amid disagreements over budget spending and the EU.
The Bulgarian coalition government faces a no-confidence vote in the country’s parliament on Wednesday, threatening new political instability in the EU’s poorest member state.
Centrist of the Prime Minister Kiril Petkov We continue the change (PP) party created a four-party coalition with socialist, populist and center-right factions and took office six months ago, only to cause the coalition to disintegrate earlier this month over disagreements over spending and whether Bulgaria should unlock The accession of Northern Macedonia to the EU.
The EU is now facing a new round of political turmoil and possibly a fourth national election in April 2021, jeopardizing millions of euros in EU reconstruction funds and plans to adopt the euro in 2024.
Stagnation could also hamper Bulgaria’s efforts to find a stable supply of natural gas afterwards Moscow suspends gas supplies on the Balkan side – almost entirely relying on Russian gas – for Sofia’s refusal to pay in rubles.
Speaking during a debate on a no-confidence vote in the legislature on Tuesday, Petkov called on lawmakers to support his cabinet amid the war in Ukraine and rising inflation.
“This government will not allow theft from Bulgarian taxpayers,” Petkov said. “You have to decide – you have a real chance to plunge the country into a political crisis during the war.
Petkov, a 42-year-old Harvard graduate, holds a strong pro-European and pro-NATO stance, unusual for a country with a traditionally friendly stance on Russia.
Petkov fired his defense minister in February for refusing to call Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “war” backed EU sanctions against Moscow and agreed to repair Ukraine’s heavy military equipment while not sending weapons to Kyiv.
A crumbling coalition
The former coalition partner ITN left the government after accusing Petkov of ignoring the country’s interests and submitting to EU and NATO pressure, demanding that Bulgaria’s veto on Northern Macedonia’s EU accession talks be lifted.
Petkov said any veto decision would be put to a vote in parliament, and accused the populist ITN leadership of deliberately obstructing the cabinet’s anti-corruption agenda.
Six ITN lawmakers have so far resigned and vowed to support Petkov and his efforts to tackle corruption, but the government still has six votes less than the 121-strong majority.
Analysts see a new round of turbulence for months to come.
“Even if the government survives the vote, it would be difficult to secure stable support in the long run,” said Dobromir Zhivkov, a political analyst with Market Links. “Early elections are very popular.”
The proposal against the ruling coalition was proposed by the opposition GERB party to former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.
Annual inflation rose to 15.6 percent, a 24-year high in May. Finance Minister Asen Vassilev says the rise is mainly due to high energy and food prices caused by the war in Ukraine.
A new vote is likely to benefit Borissov’s GERB party, as well as pro-Russian parties such as the nationalist Revival, as economic problems and the war in Ukraine polarize society.